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Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Spelling and Cursive

Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Spelling and Cursive

Can you teach spelling and cursive at the very same time?

Linda Higginbotham is a real mom with two real kids who use All About Spelling. Cursive writing was a skill that Linda’s kids desperately needed to improve, but Linda was struggling to fit another subject into their school day.

So Linda did what any enterprising mom would do: she figured out a way for spelling lessons to serve double duty.

When she decided to “piggyback” cursive into their AAS lessons, Linda discovered a double benefit. Not only did her children’s cursive writing improve, but they also got in some extra spelling practice! And Linda was able to check two subjects off her to-do list—with just five extra minutes of work each day. Now that’s good planning!

Would you like to find out how your children can practice cursive in just five extra minutes each day? Read on!

Here’s Linda…

I’m excited to share how I piggyback cursive onto our regular All About Spelling lessons. I am working with two older students: a sixth grader and a dyslexic high school student who really struggled with cursive, especially reading it.

We follow Marie’s advice and spend 20 minutes per day on spelling. I set the timer for 20 minutes, and when the timer goes off, it’s time for cursive practice.

Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Spelling and Cursive Writing - All About Spelling

Here is how our cursive practice has progressed over the last year.

At first, I would just ask them to write one sentence using the spelling words they had written in their notebooks. Then they had to copy the sentence in cursive. When that became easier for them, I allowed them to skip the first part and write the sentence directly in cursive.

Here’s the part that was the key. I did the same. Using their words, I wrote a cursive sentence too. Then I had them read my sentence two or three times for fluency. As the year progressed, the difficulty progressed. At first I wrote my sentences on the white board in large, careful letters.

Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Spelling and Cursive Writing - All About Spelling

Gradually, I transitioned to smaller letters. Then I moved to lined paper, writing on every other line with very carefully formed cursive. Now they are reading sentences on every line, written more normally—meaning less carefully.

We are now writing two sentences at a time. At first I allowed them to write any two sentences. Now the sentences have to be related—a tiny story—but always using the spelling words they have studied that day.

Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Spelling and Cursive Writing - All About Spelling

They write their sentences in the notebook, so the words are right there and accessible to them. They can always add extra words to make a good, interesting sentence. I correct the extra words too, especially if they follow a spelling rule that the kids should know.

Real Moms, Real Kids: All About Spelling and Cursive Writing - All About Spelling

Our cursive practice is always short and sweet, never more than five minutes. We often make silly sentences or stories. This has been a great way for us to squeeze in cursive practice, which had often been shorted before. Plus, this method has provided a practical and painless way to reinforce what my children are learning in spelling.

In the past, my son always said my handwriting just looked like a bunch of squiggles to him, but now he is reading my writing fairly easily. Now that’s progress!

I think the next step may be to ask Dad to write some sentences so they can practice reading other people’s cursive, too.

Here’s What I Loved about Linda’s Story

Linda shared some great tips for combining spelling and cursive writing! Here’s what especially stood out to me:

  • She gives “real life meaning” to cursive practice: her children see the practical application of being able to read other people’s handwriting.
  • She dovetails spelling and cursive practice.
  • They use a timer, and cursive practice takes less than five minutes.

Products Linda has used with her children:

Linda has also found these resources to be helpful:

Did you enjoy Linda’s story? Read more stories in our Real Moms, Real Kids series.

Do you teach cursive writing? If so, what method do you use?

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Jennifer

says:

Thanks for the great idea. My 3rd graders just finished learning all of the letters in cursive and I needed a way now for them to work more with what they’ve learned.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Jennifer. Using cursive for spelling is a great way to work on both skills as the same time.

Hank Chatman

says:

That is such a great idea. I will be doing this for sure!

Kristi F.

says:

This mother has wisdom! The progressive steps make this approach to incorporating cursive handwriting seem doable! I’m printing this article to refer back to so that I can implement this style in a way that works for my own students-including an older dyslexic son. Thank you for sharing this story of a “Real Mom!” Please let her know that is has helped another homeschooling family.

Sherry

says:

My daughter has just learned to write all of the lower case letters in cursive and it is the one thing she enjoys doing. We simply used a Zaner-Bloser handwriting workbook for 3rd graders. She has beautiful manuscript copywork skills and soon I look forward to seeing copywork in cursive. The trouble is all the detailed copywork doesn’t seemed to have carried over into an understanding of spelling. She will be going into 4th grade this fall and struggled with spelling this list of words after she had worked with them for several days: my (miy), sky (ski), dry (drie), try (triy), cry (criy). She did spell by, fry, mile, nice, and fine correctly, though. She is my fifth child. Her siblings were not amazing spellers, but they were all grade level or above when tested. This is not the case with her. I think she needs the rules that AAS will provide. I like this post’s idea of combining the two and at some point hope to do so.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sherry,
We have a blog post titled Why Copywork Doesn’t Always Work for Teaching Spelling that you might find helpful.

Kristine

says:

This is great!! My kids learn Italic and not traditional cursive, but I want them to be able to read cursive. Using your idea I have been writing my own writing station sentence (starts in AAS level 3 I think). in cursive for them to read. After only a week they are able to read most of it. I could not be happier–easy and effective.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kristine,
This is a great adaptation. And yes, Writing Station activities start in AAS 3.

Amy

says:

That’s a great idea!

Tonya

says:

My second grader wants to learn cursive and I have been trying to figure out how to get started. This is a great idea. Thanks

Darlene

says:

Great tips! I’ll try them, thanks!

Arlene Merrick

says:

Hello Marie,
I was intrigued to read this particular article because I am teaching my son cursive this year. It has been “A long way baby” for him because we discovered he had disgraphia which the discovery of that was enlightening! It helped us to find the help he needed and through therapies he is now a changed boy in the writing department! A bit behind but at least for the last two years he has been writing and it is legible!! So, this year I introduced cursive and not only was he open to it but has been doing fairly well!! If you knew where he was just three years ago at age 9. You would be shouting from the roof tops as I have with the difference in the past two years. Anyway,all that said. I can appreciate what Linda is doing and it has given me some ideas of being able to eventually do the same and incorporate his All About Spelling words into cursive practice. I love that as a goal to work towards now!!

Linda

says:

Arlene, I know what you mean about shouting from the rooftops! My son is not a good speller, but he is SO FAR from where he was 3 years ago! And he now spells more words right than he does wrong. As we progress through the next levels of AAS, I know he is going to be even better.

Something else I have begun doing is this; if they struggle particularly hard over some review words that day, I request they use those words in their cursive sentence for just one more practice that day!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Arlene,
It’s so great to hear that your son is having so much success! Thank you for sharing his journey with us.

Maureen

says:

I’ve been looking for a way to incorporate cursive and I love this idea. Thank you!

Niki P

says:

What a great idea! Thanks for sharing.

Janet

says:

What a great idea! I struggle, too, with thinking, “How am I going to fit in ONE MORE THING?!” Thanks for sharing your process with this. I’m going to begin this next week when we begin AAS level 5.

Aimee

says:

I love this idea! I am going to try it, because even though my children learn to write cursive, they often complain that they can’t read it.

Tara

says:

We’ve been using cursive for a few years, now, to help deal with letter reversals. It virtually eliminated them, except for one time when my daughter wrote an entire word in mirror image in cursive. I still have no idea how she managed that!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tara,
Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci could write whole passages in mirror images? Your daughter is in good company!

Liz

says:

Linda, I love you you shared how you incrementally increased the difficulty of cursive practice while keeping it short and sweet for your learners. Going from reading your large, careful script on a whiteboard to reading and writing single-spaced sentences in a notebook is commendable progress to make in a year!

Linda

says:

When I feel that cursive is automatic enough, I will have them do their dictation sentences in cursive, but we are not there yet. Abby sometimes tries it, but thinking about the cursive detracts from the spelling becoming automatic.

Nina Mills

says:

I have a question about your cursive instruction. Did you previously teach them the cursive letters and how to connect the letters? Or was this their first intro into cursive?
If I understand this correctly, your process was , spelling lesson, as far as you got in 20 min. then write a sentence with the spelling words. Then they copied it into cursive. You did the same on the white board, and gradually over time moved to smaller, more natural letters as they demonstrated fluency in reading your and writing. Over time, they skipped printing the sentence and just wrote it out in cursive. Does that sound right? This article is great, short and sweet and you are right, that works well in homeschooling lessons.

Linda

says:

You’ve got it; summarized the process nicely! This was not teaching cursive; they both had learned cursive, but never used it consistently enough to become fluent. My son, who is dyslexic, never liked cursive and avoids it as much as possible, but he can both read and write it now. (If he must!) My daughter enjoys it. She has some practice sheets from Currclick called A Floral Alphabet that she loves.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Nina,
I think because Linda’s kids are older (high school and 6th grade), that they had previous cursive instruction. However, I have found that you can teach cursive but if you don’t require your students to use it regularly, and you don’t provide the regular opportunity to read it, that they will never master cursive.

I think it might be easier to use a cursive workbook to teach the letter formation and how to join letters, and then use Linda’s idea to provide regular practice. I like that Handwriting Without Tears stresses short daily practice, not more than the 5 minute or so Linda does.

Julie

says:

Love AAS and AAR

a

says:

Good idea. I have one who could use some cursive practice.

Patty Conrad

says:

Looks very helpful as we begin cursive.

Steph

says:

Great tips! I need to do this to make sure we practice handwriting regularly

Jessica R.

says:

Although my son isn’t quite at the point to begin learning cursive, I was unsure if I would teach him cursive at all. This article made me think about how easily cursive handwriting instruction could fit into our homeschool routine and the comments helped me consider some of the benefits of learning cursive today. Thanks for an informative article.

Alison

says:

I’m going to have to try this!

Elizabeth m.

says:

Love this idea!

Rachel

says:

Love this idea! Great way to incorporate cursive into daily work:)

Alison

says:

I often feel pressed for time, so I love this idea. Shorter lessons help me with consistency, too.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Alison,
Yes! One of the “secrets” I’ve found with homeschooling is that short lessons are the most productive overall for all of us.

Martina

says:

Love this idea!

Ami

says:

My daughter was taught cursive in 2nd grade, private school. When we start homeschooling, my son will be in 1st and wants to start learning so I will be teaching him cursive next. Always nice to see different methods to teach it.

Linda

says:

You could just start with a spelling word instead of sentences. I like the flexibility of AAS to work at any level we want.

Sigrid

says:

This is such a great idea! I am going to do this when my kid progresses a bit farther in his cursive learning. The dictation sentences have already helped a lot in his printing skills.

Jackie

says:

I love the idea of piggybacking spelling and cursive. I have struggled with fitting in all of our ‘subjects’ and I feel this will be very helpful.

Matt Stringham

says:

My wife and I were just having a conversation the other day about the importance of cursive. How sad our society is deviating away from teaching this important written art.

Sarah

says:

This is such a good idea! Definitely going to incorporate this with my daughter who is learning cursive. Thank you!

Katie

says:

Thank you! What a great idea

Kari

says:

That’s a great idea, and sneaky, too

Hélène

says:

I cant imagine a laptop being quicker than writing notes in class. Also, the act of WRITING vs typing gets the info into your brain alot better. God knew what He was doing giving us hands n not tablets at the ends of our arms :)

Tammy

says:

I love this program. My children have learned so much.

Sarah Hull

says:

I love these ideas. I have wondering how to incorporate cursive into my sons learning. We haven’t started learning cursive yet, but I know that I want to incorporate it into our learning by the next school year. I will definitely try this!

That is a great idea! I use the Barton Reading and Spelling System with my children, but I can see how this idea would be easy to apply for us, too. Thank you!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Emma. I thought it was a great idea too, and it’s been going well so far this week with my kids.

Stephenie

says:

I used Handwriting without Tears.

Rachel Storms

says:

I would like to try this with my youngest.

Jolene W

says:

Love this idea! Definitely trying it once we start cursive!

Lisa Fetty

says:

We use free cursive worksheets online. I think it’s important for children to learn cursive. I love the idea of incorporating this gradual approach to utilizing their spelling words and cursive together.

jennifer mathesz

says:

Great idea! I love killing two birds with one stone :)

Debra

says:

Excited to use this next year!

Rose Orosco

says:

I need to try this with my 4th grade boy.

Michelle W

says:

I was using handwriting without tears and it just isn’t working for us. I might just have to try this.

I love this idea! My daughter is excited to learn cursive but I am a little overwhelmed by it so this will actually be most helpful for me!

Carol

says:

Thanks for the ideas! I have some reluctant cursive writers as well and have trouble squeezing in the instruction time.

I have been using our Bible verse memory work in almost the same way! I love combining subjects!

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Kelli,
Thanks for sharing this idea. I love getting two birds with one stone in homeschooling too!

Faith

says:

I used All About Spelling with my older children and we all loved it! It was the only program that clicked with them. I would highly recommend it.

Erica

says:

My 4th grade daughter has never liked handwriting. This year I skipped the handwriting book and have her write out all her spelling words and sentences in cursive. This slows her writing down and helps her focus on spelling the words correctly. I like the idea above about using two spelling words and having the student write 2 related sentences. I will try this tomorrow in our spelling lesson.

Jennifer Boudreaux

says:

Would love to give this a try!

Sarah

says:

Excited to make the switch this year!

Ally Welch

says:

Awesome! Will have to try this!

Natalie

says:

Awesome! Been wanting to try this program would love to win

Becca

says:

Awesome. Great idea

Teresa

says:

I’m going to try the timer too.

Miranda

says:

What a great idea. We use the clock for motivation as well.

Courtney Wise

says:

Thank you!

Regina

says:

Would be a blessing to win!

Deanna

says:

Thank you so much for such a great idea. I’m going to implement that today in our spelling. I am in our second year homeschoolin and I really appreciate all the great tips I read on this site. I started AAS and AAR this year and I am ama zed with the progress with my 2 children. Thank you Marie!!

Deanna

says:

….homeschooling
I hate when I don’t proofread before I submit

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Deanna. I hope this tip works as well for you as it has so far for me. I just started using these cursive tips myself yesterday and today, and I can see that it will make a lot of difference in them becoming comfortable in reading and writing cursive. I’m happy that we can provide helpful tips and ideas to you, but I’m happy to enjoy such ideas myself too!

Lee

says:

What a great idea!!!

Kara Mattson

says:

Thanks so much for this very inspiring idea!

Kathrine K.

says:

That’s a great idea! I’ve never thought of that.

christine

says:

Love it!

Jessica Norris

says:

I am definitely trying this next year when we start cursive! What a great idea.

Christina Wells

says:

We have not got to cursive yet, as my oldest is only six, but we do practice printing with the spelling words.

Renee

says:

Great info. Thanks!

Maria Nelson

says:

This is great! My daughter’s using AAS and I will ask that she do her writing in cursive.

Stacie F

says:

Love this article.

Chris O

says:

I love this idea. We always have done spelling in cursive, enabling me to work on letter formation and spelling at the same time.

Kelly

says:

Using a timer is a great idea. My kids often ask when spelling will be over.

I love the idea of using a timer to know when the set time is done. Great idea.

Mahmoud Sultan

says:

I am really grateful for the bright idea that you suggest.

Alicia Langstraat

says:

What do y’all use to teach the cursive writing in the first place? I love this for practice, but I’d like an example of how to teach the letter formation to begin with.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Alicia,
There are a lot of options out there for teaching handwriting. I prefer Handwriting Without Tears. It was developed by an occupational therapist, and takes a child’s development motor skills into consideration. I particularly love that it stresses just short amounts of practice each day.

Michelle

says:

By introducing this method, she has also tackled sentence construction. :) THANKS for the tips. God lead me to buy two timers last week and I will began today!

Victoria

says:

I plan to incorporate cursive next year when my son is 8 – I like this method for practice!

Anne

says:

I’m so looking forward to implementing this! Thanks for the inspiration 😊

Lisa

says:

For my older children who need on-going cursive practice, I take a one subject notebook and once a week I copy into it a quote from a fairly famous writer, person from history, religious figure, etc. I write it in my own handwriting, using cursive, to give the student practice reading cursive. The student is then required to copy the quote in cursive. As the year goes on and they become more proficient, I then ask them a question about the given quote, and they have to give me their own answer in cursive. Sometimes we even do a back-and-forth discussion. This way, the cursive practice is interesting and gives my older students (grade 6 and up) ongoing cursive writing practice. My college-age children have appreciated being able to quickly take notes during classes using cursive. It is much faster than printing! I know that some students like to use laptops to take notes in class, but this method has worked well for teaching my children practical, cursive writing.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
Great ideas here on how to move to more difficult, ongoing cursive practice.

Research strongly suggests, by the way, that notes taken by hand are much more effective on long term learning than notes taken on a computer. Cursive is much quicker than printing, it is arguably a very important skill, even in today’s modern age, to have.

Kathy K.

says:

Excellent and efficient ideas — I’ll use these with my easily frustrated son! Thanks so much!

Deanna

says:

This is a wonderful way to work cursive into our routine. Thank you!

I like that she has them read her cursive writing, too. What an excellent tool she is providing them with.

Stacey J

says:

What a great idea! My youngest is currently learning cursive and could use more practice with it and her spelling.

tracy

says:

I love it when we can reach two goals at the same time. It helps the kids accomplish so much more with less effort and time. Thanks for the ideas.

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Tracy,
I know, right?! This is the first I’ve seen this too (I don’t always know what each week’s blog post is going to be ahead of time), and I am going to jump on some of these ideas. The one about writing sentences for my kids to read is especially appealing to me.

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