January 23 is National Handwriting Day! As faithful advocates of handwriting instruction, this day is very near and dear to our hearts here at Universal Publishing.
Even with the progression of technology, writing by hand still serves an important purpose in school and beyond. National Handwriting Day celebrates that purpose and provides a great opportunity to discuss the importance of handwriting with your students.
National Handwriting Day was established by the Writing Instrument Manufacturer’s Association (WIMA) in 1977 to “alert the public to the importance of handwriting.” WIMA selected January 23 as National Handwriting Day to coincide with the birthday of John Hancock, whose famously large signature adorns the Declaration of Independence.
How will you celebrate National Handwriting Day with your students? Here are a few ideas to get you started!
6 Activities for National Handwriting Day
1. Wish John Hancock a Happy Birthday
John Hancock was born on January 23, 1737. This year he’d be 281 years old! To celebrate, have your students make birthday cards for Mr. Hancock.
Younger students can simply write “Happy Birthday, John Hancock,” draw a picture, and sign their names.
Older students may want to write a letter instead, perhaps about how writing has evolved since the eighteenth century. Ask them to get creative as they attempt to explain modern writing instruments and methods to a man who used a quill and inkwell!
Whether cards or letters, make sure students sign them with their own “John Hancock.”
2. Have a Contest
Have a contest in your classroom! There are a few different ways you can do this.
Option 1: Ask students to all write the same thing, like a sentence you make up or a line from a historical document. Let students vote for the one they think is written the most legibly.
Option 2: Ask students to answer an open-ended question such as, “Why is handwriting still important?” Then the class can judge the entries based on the quality of the handwriting, the quality of the answer provided, or both. You could have one winner for the best handwriting and one winner for the best answer!
Option 3: Combine options 1 and 2 so that students write a provided sentence and also complete an open-ended question. In our Resource Center, we provide materials for you to hold your own Classroom Handwriting Contest, including entry forms and guidelines for judging. Learn More Here.
3. Discuss the History of Writing by Hand
Did you know that humans have been using writing as a form of communication for over 5,000 years? The history of writing methods includes everything from stone engravings to wax-filled wood tables to typewriters.
Talk to your students about these various writing instruments and surfaces. Then ask them to select one of these methods and write about its use.
4. Compare Writing by Hand vs. Typing
David H. Baker, the Executive Director of WIMA, states, “Though computers and email play an important role in our lives, nothing will ever replace the sincerity and individualism expressed through the handwritten word.”
Ask students to compare writing by hand to typing. Which do they prefer, and why? What are the pros and cons of each? Are there times when it’s better to write by hand than to type?
5. Write Letters to Friends/Relatives
Hand-written letters and drawings have a much more personal touch than emails and text messages!
Have students write letters to relatives or friends who live far away or who they don’t see very often. Then ask them to follow through and actually mail the letters. Getting a letter in the mail will surely brighten the recipient’s day!
6. Write Letters to Soldiers
Have your students each write a letter to a soldier. You can discuss how writing by hand offers a more personal touch than typing a letter or sending an email. There are organizations such as Operation Gratitude and A Million Thanks that will distribute letters to soldiers.
Not only will these notes of appreciation mean a lot to the men and women who receive them, this is also a great learning opportunity for students.
Tell us how you celebrate National Handwriting Day in your classroom. Comment below!
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