Teaching cursive letters in a series of similar letters can be helpful for kids who are just learning letter formation. Tricks to help with teaching cursive handwriting can make all the difference when it comes to carryover and legibility. Below, you will find information about teaching cursive handwriting and letters that are similar and should be taught together in groups for ease of learning.
read more about cursive letter families below as well as more cursive writing strategies and tools here and in the How to Teach Cursive Writing series that we have on The OT Toolbox this month.
You can find all of the tips and strategies for teaching cursive handwriting under the cursive writing tab up above.
Cursive Letter Families
Teaching cursive letters in chunks can be helpful because many cursive letters are similar in formation either in starting lines or with components. Consider a lower case cursive letter “i”. The way the beginning line curves up and stops is similar to the start of a lower case cursive letter “t”.
Letters like m, n, v, x, y, and z all start with a bump curve that starts from the baseline and curves up in an arch toward the middle line,
Letters like e, l, h, b, f, and k all start with a loop.
There are similarities in upper and lowercase cursive letters that indicate a need to teach letters in an order that takes cursive letter families into account.
Lowercase Cursive Letter Families
These are lowercase cursive letters that curve up from the baseline with a curve that follows the outside and left side of a circle. The curve traces back on itself to create a curve shape.
Wave letters include lowercase cursive: c, a, d, g, q, and o.
These are lowercase cursive letters that curve up from the baseline with an inverted curve that follows the underside and right side of a circle. The curve traces back on itself for the strait portion of the letter, but then pulls away to either continue with additional components of the letter or to connect to subsequent letters.
Spike letters include lowercase cursive: i, t, u, w, p, and j.
These are lowercase cursive letters that begin with a loop from the baseline.
Loop letters include: e, l, h b, k, and f.
These are lowercase cursive letters that start from the baseline with a low curve on a 45 degree angle that peaks with a curved “bump” at the middle line.
Bump letters include: n, m, v, x, y, and z.
These are lowercase cursive letters that start from the baseline and slant at a 45 degree angle without a curved portion at the direction change.
Slant letters include: s and r.
Another way to distinguish cursive letters even further is to identify tow truck letters. This term uses a verbal prompt from the Learning Without Tears handwriting program which identifies letters with a high connection point. The “tow truck letters” connect to subsequent letters in a word with a connector at the middle line rather than the baseline.
Tow Truck Letters include: o, v, w, and b.
Uppercase Cursive Letter Families
Right Curve Start
These are uppercase cursive letters that start at the top line with a counter clockwise (or right curve) motion from the top line down to the baseline.
Right Curve Start Letters include: A, C, O, Q, and E (Uppercase cursive letter E starts with a right curve to the middle line.)
Rocker Start Letters
These are uppercase cursive letters that start with a small rocker motion to the top line.
Rocker start letters include: B, R, P, and L.
Down Stroke Start Letters
These are uppercase cursive letters that start at the top line and move down.
Down stroke start letters include: D, T, F, U, Y, V, and W.
Left Loop Start Letters
These are uppercase cursive letters that begin with a small loop start at the top left side of the letter.
Left loop start letters include: H, K, M, N, X, and W.
Slant Start Letters
These are uppercase cursive letters that start at the baseline and slant up to the top line at a 45 degree angle.
Slant start letters include: G and S.
Left Curve Up Start
These are uppercase cursive letters start at the baseline and curve up to the left side.
Left curve up start letters include: I and J.
Uppercase cursive letter Z doesn’t seem to fit into any of these categories!
Teach Cursive Letter Families with Picture Frames
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Use the cursive letter order descriptions to create family photos like we did. Use these in the classroom to teach kids about how the letters are related in formation. We used just a few items to create family photos for cursive letters:
A picture frame set worked great for making a full set of cursive letter families.
Cardstock in bold colors and patterned scrapbooking patterns work as colorful and eye-catching mat for the cursive letter family photos.
Cut the cardstock to fit the frames. Add a small piece of tape to keep the cardstock in place. Write the groups of cursive letters on the cardstock. Fit the paper into the frames.
Use these frames to teach common cursive letter families. Place them on desks or tables in the classroom or home and refer to cursive families during instruction.
A note about order to teach cursive letters:
Specific order of uppercase and lowercase cursive letters doesn’t matter hugely. It’s recommended to teach letters in their family chunks for ease. It’s also a great idea to teach letters that are similar in look or formation to their printed counterpart.
There are so many different cursive letter curriculum out there without a clear letter sequence so it’s truly up to the instructor. Consider the benefits of teaching cursive letters in their letter family clusters. Here is one list of recommended cursive letter order
for ease of instruction.
Need help with the underlying skills needed for handwriting? Start here on our Handwriting resources
The Handwriting Book
is a huge resource when it comes to addressing handwriting concerns. It’s a book written by 10 occupational therapists and physical therapists and refers to every underlying skill related to written work. This is a tool for therapists, teachers, and parents.