Writing Time 4/3/21
A large part of early learning involves familiarising students with our alphabet and teaching them how to communicate effectively through written language. During this developmental period, handwriting instruction needs to teach students correct letter formation in a way that’s easy to understand.
So, what’s a great way to introduce students to handwriting? Letter groups!
In handwriting practice, letters are grouped according to the type of movements required to correctly form them. Once students learn the features of one letter, such as a downward stroke, other letters with similar formations are easier to master. This repetitive practice of the same movement provides students with more opportunities to master it before attempting new, more difficult letter formations.
In Writing Time, the different kinds of letter groups are called ‘Hero Lines’. They associate common handwriting movements with an exciting adventure theme that helps students to recall letter formations.
When learning these letter groups, students start with less complex groups (e.g. those requiring simple downward strokes) before moving on to more complex groups (e.g. those requiring strokes that change direction).
Writing Time resources are available in the three most commonly used handwriting fonts in Australia: New South Wales Foundation Style, Queensland Beginner’s & Modern Cursive, and Victorian Modern Cursive. Due to the subtle differences in font styles, Queensland and New South Wales fonts recognise six letter groups, while the Victorian font only recognises four.
|Queensland Beginner’s Alphabet||NSW Foundation Style||Victorian Modern Cursive|
|Rainy day lines are straight lines that go from top to bottom||i t l x z||l t i x z f j||i t l j|
|Wave lines go down and under in an anticlockwise direction||u v w||v w u y||u y v w b|
|Back flip lines go around in an anticlockwise loop||a d q o e c f||a d g q c e o||a c d g q e o f s|
|Kangaroo hop lines go up and over in a clockwise direction||n m h k r||n m r h k||m n r x z p h k|
|Forward roll lines go around in a clockwise loop||p b j||p b||-|
|Snake lines change direction from anticlockwise to clockwise||s g y||s||-|
Use letter groups in your handwriting lessons as a fun way to help your students to learn. Try a multi-sensory approach that engages students and assists motor skill development.
Sing along with the Hero Line songs (available for free at Writing Time Online), and have students perform the suggested actions. Each Hero Line has its own song, which is sung to the tune of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’. The actions familiarise students with letter formations and further develop their gross motor skills.
The Hero Lines are great discussion starters. Go through each Hero Line and discuss how their names are inspired by the physical movements used to create each stroke. For example, explain that rainy day lines move downwards like water dripping, or kangaroo hop lines go up and over like a kangaroo hopping.
Art activities that involve the Hero Lines get beginner hands moving in the right direction. The early years Writing Time Student Practice Books are packed with meaningful art activities that help students practise the common slants, slopes and loops needed for letter formation. Use these art activities to introduce a letter group, as a warm-up before targeted letter practice, or as a reward for fast finishers.
Use letter groups as a key component of targeted handwriting practice. Have your students track, trace and copy the focus letters both individually and within sentences. As you progress through teaching the grouped letters, the relevant handwriting movements will become more automatic for students.
Writing Time Student Practice Books include written assessment tasks that are completed throughout the year. However, to fully assess a student’s handwriting ability, you also need to observe their handwriting technique.