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Cursive First, An Introduction to Cursive Penmanship

Publisher: LITHBTH Educational Services
Author: Elizabeth FitzGerald, M.S.
Review last updated: November 2010
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Cursive First

Elizabeth FitzGerald teaches homeschoolers how to teach their children to read using Wanda Sanseri’s Spell to Write and Read program. Over the years of homeschooling her own children and teaching other parents, she began to investigate whether or not it made sense to teach cursive handwriting from the start rather than beginning with manuscript and transitioning to cursive. She experimented with her own children with very successful results. Cursive First grew out of the need to share her methods for teaching cursive in conjunction with SWR. Wanda Sanseri initially resisted the cursive first approach, but eventually became a believer and supporter, writing the foreword to this book.

Cursive First teaches a fairly simple style of cursive; it includes simple loops and a moderate slant. The book comes with a set of cards that should be laminated and cut apart. Cards feature models of each lower case letter on one side, and instruction information on the reverse: sounds key words and instructions for formation of the letter. A clock face is used to help with instruction along with the idea of a house with a main floor, basement, and attic for alignment. In addition, you receive a set of reproducible worksheets for practicing lower and upper case letters, phonograms as taught in SWR, and numerals. Other kinesthetic activities for developing both gross and small motor coordination are suggested in the book, so this isn’t simply a pencil-and-paper approach.

Practice sheets provide practice with letters and words, but not sentences. FitzGerald suggests that you shift into having students practice their penmanship within their spelling lessons and other writing assignments as they develop enough fluency to do so.

The book serves as a teacher manual, including suggestions on how to align instruction with SWR lessons, even if teaching cursive as a transition from manuscript. The book also dedicates quite a bit of space to a history of the development of handwriting and an explanation of the methodology.

This course requires direct instruction although students should be able to actually practice on their own. There is no grade level designation, so it might be used with all ages. While it aligns with SWR, it will work apart from that program.


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  • Instant Key

    • Suitable for: direct instruction for group or one-on-one
      Audience: Kindergarten and up
      Need for parent/teacher instruction: high
      Prep time needed: minimal once you're familiar with the approach
      Teacher's manual: essential
      Religious perspective: no religious content

    Publisher's Info

    • LITHBTH Educational Services

      1179 West A Street #117
      Hayward, CA  94541