Pick Up Your Pens & Pencils, It’s National Handwriting Day!

Celebrated January 23rd, this day 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. National Handwriting Day is a great opportunity to craft a letter to a friend or penpal, write down a cherished family recipe with your kids, draft the next great American novel, or practice your A-B-C’s.

Writing by hand is a physical act that improves fine motor skills and cognitive processes in younger learners, and serves as an exercise in creativity for older children when they take the time to write stories or explore 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 & Science of Handwriting

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 Teaching Cursive Writing

Grades 6-12
Starting in the 1970s, and under the recent 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. Let your students weigh in on the cursive handwriting debate with this PBS NewsHour video and educational resources from May 9, 2014. For further background and materials to support student understanding, see the Teacher’s Guide, Student Handout, and Informational Text in Support Materials.

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-3
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.

Play Letter Hopscotch

Grades PreK-3
Recognizing each letter is one of the first steps of the reading process – but learning letter names outside of alphabetical order can be challenging. This activity gets the brain and the body moving and learning together. Grab some sidewalk chalk and take learning outdoors by making a letter hopscotch.

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!

Five Tips for Hosting a Writing Club

Grades 3-5
Getting reluctant writers to write can be a huge challenge. Try these five tips for hosting a writing club and watch your child grow into a confident and capable writer!