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Happy National Handwriting Day!

Monday, January 23, 2012 is National Handwriting Day, an annual celebration commemorating the birthday of John Hancock. National Handwriting Day was created in 1977 by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) to publicly acknowledge the importance of handwriting. It’s also the perfect time to get your students excited about handwriting by having a handwriting-themed party at your school!

Start off by introducing American statesman John Hancock who is best known for being the first to sign the United States Declaration of Independence. His large, bold signature is the most prominent on the document and is so closely linked with this event that “John Hancock” has become a synonym for “signature”, as in "Put your John Hancock here."

Get your students into the spirit of the celebration by preparing a handwritten National Handwriting Day declaration scroll for your classroom. Provide a feather quill pen and ink for each student to sign the document.

To add to the festivities, consider bringing in a birthday cake and have everyone sign it in frosting. Serving alphabet cookies, cereal, or soup would work as well.

Next, choose a fun handwriting activity to do. Consider these ideas:

Grades 1-2
Have students write their names in large letters with white glue on sheets of construction paper. Sprinkle glitter or confetti into the names and let dry. Assign a "favorites" category to each student, such as favorite animals, foods, colors, sports, movies, or places. Give students time to mingle and interview each other to find out about their classmates' favorites. Remind students to take careful notes as they keep a tally. Finally, each student should handwrite a list of the class' top ten favorites in one category and display it in the room.

Grades 3-8
Do a signature study where the role of signatures in society is discussed. Explain that signing a document is often viewed as a way to agree to a set of terms, make a promise, show support, or authorize an action. Ask students to brainstorm documents that require signatures. Explain that signatures are written in a personal style but should also be legible. Discuss possible consequences of illegible signatures on important documents.

On the Friday before National Handwriting Day, ask students to collect signatures and bring them to school on January 23. Examples of signatures could be from family members, celebrity autographs, and sports trading cards. Display a class collection of signatures on a bulletin board. Invite students to identify signatures written in an attractive style and to point out illegible signatures.

Be creative and have lots of fun celebrating in your classroom! Remind students that good handwriting is necessary for communication with others and that it will help them succeed at school and in life. Happy National Handwriting Day!

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