Don’t Forget to Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s on National Handwriting Day!

National Handwriting Day, observed on January 23rd each year, coincides with the birthday of John Hancock – a Founding Father of our nation, the first to sign the U.S. Declaration of Independence, and famously known for his penmanship and signature. For us less well-known writers, it’s still a great opportunity to celebrate the occasion by crafting a letter to a friend or penpal, writing down a cherished family recipe with our kids, or practicing our curliest cursive.

In the digital age, it might feel outdated, but writing by hand is still incredibly important. This physical act improves fine motor skills and cognitive processes in younger learners. It serves as an exercise in creativity for older children writing their own stories or exploring the world of text-based art like calligraphy. With the personality of every writer embedded into each hand-written word, this old school style of communication is as unique as it is personal.

Learn more about the value of handwriting and penmanship, and try out some fun activities and games with the resources below.

The Art & Skill of Writing by Hand

How Important is Handwriting These Days?

Grades PreK-3
The ability to write benefits children in numerous ways throughout life — academically, creatively and emotionally. So where does penmanship fit into the bigger picture?

Calligrapher Sammy Little | Craft in America: Democracy

Grades 6-12
Learn about the art of calligraphy in honor of National Handwriting Day with this video from Craft in America. Then, create text-based art that documents an event in U.S. history!

Why Some Schools Still Insist on Lessons in Elegant Cursive

Grades 6-12
Starting in the 1970s, and under the implementation of the Common Core, a former pillar of elementary education has been largely forgotten. But there’s a feeling that learning cursive still has value, even in the age of typing and texting. PBS NewsHour’s April Brown reports from North Carolina, one of a handful of states that’s moved to make learning the formal, curlicue letters mandatory.

The Art of Handwriting | Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art

Grades 6-12
Every handwritten message brims with the personality of the writer at the moment of interplay between hand, eye, mind, pen, and paper. The letters here, from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, show that an artist might put pen to paper just as he or she would apply a line to a drawing.

How to Make an AI Read Your Handwriting (LAB) #5 | Crash Course: Artificial Intelligence

Grades 9-12
Crash Course’s “John Green Bot” wrote his first novel! Follow along as Jabril converts the novel into typed text by programming a neural network to recognize handwritten letters.

Activities, Crafts & Games

Identify Letters Written With a Fingertip

Grades PreK-K
This quiet, soothing activity is an easy way to calm your child at the end of a school day or after a busy weekend of activities, while also helping your child better identify letters and numbers.

Picture Books About Writers and Writing

Grades PreK-4
Celebrate the art of writing in all its various forms with these ten picture books about writers and writing that will tickle your children’s funny bones and teach them some history too.

Write Secret Crayon Messages

Grades K-3
In this activity, your child will use the crayon resist painting technique to write secret messages! When you write with a white crayon on white paper, the writing appears invisible… but when you brush over it with watercolor paint, the message shows up!

My Creature Adventure Story

Grades 1-5
It’s time to write a creature adventure story! Invite your child to choose their creature and a setting, decide on the plot, and then use this printable worksheet from Wild Kratts to begin writing their story.

Lettering Artistry with Jessica Hische | KQED Art School

Grades 6-12
San Francisco artist and author Jessica Hische has designed everything from chocolate lettering to Wes Anderson movie title sequences. Here she takes us into her design studio with a demo on custom lettering from pencil sketch to vector paths. After watching the video, explore discussion questions about Hische’s creative process and try out your very own work of lettering art!