Crack the Cursive Code teaches cursive writing in the context of a cartoon adventure story. This activity book has three elements: the story, writing, and coloring. The course is very creative on many levels, but the story itself makes this course much more interesting than many other options.
The adventure features Fox, Chicken, and Dog, cartoon characters in the ongoing story who decide to play dress-up as the characters Eat N. Hunt, Lord of the Wings, and Indie ‘Napper’ Bones, respectively. They open an old scroll that they are unable to decipher, and thus begins their amazing adventure. They suddenly find themselves on the deck of a pirate ship that later transforms into a submarine, then into a hot air balloon.
Along with the text and story illustrations, each page of the story highlights two letters in cursive, introduced by the Lord of the Wing's magic wand—for example, a and b, with arrows indicating the direction and steps to follow in forming the letters. The cursive style taught in this course is fairly standard, although it simplifies things a bit by dropping joins after some of the uppercase letters such as B, F, and O.
The letters are taught in alphabetical order, and the 3,000-word story employs alliteration within each story section based on the letters being taught. For instance, as students learn about the letter g, one sentence of the story reads, “The underwater boat gracefully glided toward the sun that glistened on the ocean’s surface.” The letter h follows with sentences such as, “The dog hastily hung a hammock and had his head down in hardly any time at all!”
Facing each story page is a lined page for tracing the two letters emphasized in that piece of the story, in both uppercase and lowercase forms, in isolation and within word context. (Writing books for left-handed students place the practice pages on the left, while right-hand books have them on the right.) The instructions do not tell students to write the letters on their own, but additional practice pages in the second half of the book provide more tracing practice and space for students to write the letters on their own.
In addition, the book uses the sentence, "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” to provide practice for writing all lowercase letters. Students will both trace and copy this sentence a few times. A few extra lined pages at the back of the book can be used for whatever practice you wish. Utilizing those pages is important since otherwise, students don’t get enough practice writing without tracing the forms.
I expect that many children will love to color the black-and-white story illustrations, and there are additional coloring pages for the story characters.
New in 2023 is the standalone storybook in cursive containing the same story and illustrations used in the activity book but with no practice pages. Specifically designed to provide children practice in reading cursive, this full-color storybook is available in both hard and soft cover. This storybook also has a printed manuscript version, minus illustrations, at the back of the book for reference. Children might also enjoy the audio version of the storybook that was professionally recorded with character voices, music, and sound effects. These two items are available individually or in bundles with the writing workbook. Digital bundles also include printable files for two alphabet practice "placemats" in either 8/5" x 11" or 11" x 17" sizes. Print and laminate either one for repeated use.
Some parents are ambivalent about teaching cursive handwriting, but Crack the Cursive Code might be appealing enough to tip that decision in a positive direction.