National Handwriting Day Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson plan, students investigate the handwriting techniques and styles of famous authors and discuss what might have affected their styles. In addition, students learn the basics of the handwriting style known as calligraphy and create their own calligraphic style.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Recognize some famous signatures and handwriting techniques
  • Understand the basics of calligraphy


30-45 minutes


  • calligraphy pens
  • copies of handwriting from famous authors/people (found on web)
  • examples of calligraphy

Key Vocabulary

  • cursive
  • calligraphy
  • John Hancock

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.2

Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text, or issue under study.

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.6.1

Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 6 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.


  • Prior to class, print several copies of famous handwriting styles or authors or famous people who were particularly famous for their handwriting. For example, a copy of John Hancock's signature on the Declaration of Independence would be a good place to start.
  • When class begins, pass out the handwriting examples. Do not tell your students to whom each handwriting sample belongs (note: the sample of John Hancock's signature will, of course, be obvious).
  • Give your students some background on National Handwriting Day. Explain that it was established in 1977, and it is celebrated every year on John Hancock's birthday, January 23.
  • Explain to your students that the style of a person's handwriting can give us clues as to how the person works and thinks. Hold a short discussion about the samples. Some example discussion questions include:
    • What is significant about each handwriting sample? Is it messy? Neat?
    • What do you think the sample handwriting says about its author?
    • Do you have any guesses as to whose handwriting it might be (note: you may need to give your students multiple choice selections to narrow it down)?
  • Once the discussion concludes, explain to your students they are going to learn how to write a certain type of stylized handwriting called calligraphy.
  • Write a definition of calligraphy up on the board and show students several examples.

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