How to Train Your Word Wizards

28th February 2017 - By 

The Magic Shapes handwriting resources use basic shape making and fine motor skill activities to help children develop familiarity with the different shapes used to create letter forms. Every letter of the alphabet is available in:

lowercase print

All letters have been created by hand and are intended to look like handwriting (opposed to computer generated). Each set is similar in style so the capital letters can be used with either the lowercase print and/or the cursive styles.

For each style every letter has been broken down into simple shapes. These basic shapes can be used for fine-motor activities and resources are provided to support children to develop their confidence and pencil skills using these shapes.

The same shapes can then be combined to create individual letters and slides are provided to demonstrate how the shapes combine to create a letter. Letters can then be practised and perfected with additional resources that include guidelines and tracing activities along with space to have a go at writing freehand.

The cursive lettering use three simple joins: up, down or across. A ‘joins grid’ is available to demonstrate every possible combination of letters and how they may join.

The premise throughout is to understand letters as symbols. These symbols can be used and combined to represent sounds (and this is developed further in the Magic Sounds Phonics resources).

Once upon a time when few people could read and write, the use of symbols to communicate ideas and instructions would have seemed like a type of magic. Arguably this is exactly what it is. When we master the art of combining symbols to transmit out thoughts and directly connect our mind to writing, we are working a kind of magic. A kind of magic that has been developed over thousands of years.

An Evolution of Letters

The Latin alphabet we use today is a descendant of Egyptian hieroglyphs. The earliest systems of using pictures to represent language eventually developed into more basic symbols before becoming the symbols we use today and know as letters.

We take the name ‘alphabet’ from the Greek ‘alpha beta’ and the modern letters we use are thought to have been adapted by the Romans from a variant of the Greek alphabet.

Old English was in use as late as the 10th century and was written with Anglo-Saxon runes known as the ‘futhorc’. Runes were mostly created with straight lines that were simple to draw (and engrave on rocks and bones).

The spread of Christianity eventually led to the Latin alphabet replacing the use of runes in England although for a while certain runes continued to be used, notably the ‘thorn’ for which there wasn’t a suitable Latin letter (today this has been replaced by combining the letters ‘th’).

In 1011 the Old English alphabet was recorded by a monk with 29 letters:

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z & ⁊ Ƿ Þ Ð Æ

The first 23 of these are familiar to us today. The ampersand (‘&‘) was a combination of the letters ‘et‘ (meaning ‘and’ in Latin) and it was considered by many as the 27th letter of the alphabet until as recently as the 19th century.

The remaining 5 letters were runes which were later replaced by letters. The thorn continued to be used for some time and was often mistaken for a ‘y’ leading to the often used mispronunciation of ‘ye olde’ (þe olde).

An ‘i‘ was used for a ‘j‘ and a ‘v‘ served as a ‘u‘ until the J and U were added to the alphabet in the 16th century.

W had been represented by the rune Ƿ (wynn) but was replaced by the digraph UU after the Norman conquest. This eventually evolved into the the modern ‘double-u’ we use today.

Get your Word Wizards in Training

You can find the resources here:
lowercase print

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