4 Summertime Activities for Kids

Summer is here and kids are celebrating! It’s time for a break from school and the weather is great for playing outdoors. Busy parents everywhere are wondering how to keep their kids occupied during the summer break. We have a few suggestions that might help.

My Artwork Journal by Compendium Kids
My Artwork Journal by Compendium Kids

1) Art Projects

The number of possibilities when it comes to art projects is just about endless! Bring out the inner artist in your child and create a treasured keepsake at the same time with the My Artwork Journal from the Compendium Kids collection. No more wondering what to draw – each spread in this journal has a suggested theme to inspire your child to create a picture.

Staedtler aquarell

STAEDTLER ergosoft aquarell watercolor pencils are a fun medium to experiment with. You can draw with them just like pencil crayons and then use a wet paint brush to blend and wash the colors to make a watercolor painting. When you’re creating art using a wet paint brush you’ll need a heavy-weight paper to prevent buckling. Clairefontaine’s watercolor pads have the ultimate paper to pair with the aquarell pencils.

My Writing Journal by Compendium Kids
My Writing Journal by Compendium Kids

2) Writing Projects

For the young writer, the Compendium Kids collection includes My Writing Journal. Suggested topics such as “I can write about someone who lives in our neighborhood” or “I can write about my grandparents” encourage your child to write about how they see the world. It’s super fun to read these stories again years later!

Now would be a great opportunity to introduce a child who enjoys writing to the world of fountain pens and high quality paper. Many authors step away from the world of technology and write some of their best work using an old-fashioned fountain pen and paper.

Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen
Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen

A good choice for a first fountain pen for a young writer is the Pelikano Junior. It has an ergonomic grip that guides proper finger placement and the rounded medium-broad nib is easy to write with. The Platinum Preppy disposable fountain pen is very inexpensive, comes in two nib sizes and seven colors and is another good choice for a beginner fountain pen. Don’t forget to buy some ink cartridges too!

Clairefontaine medium size ruled notebook
Clairefontaine medium size ruled notebook

Clairefontaine is the ultimate paper for writing with fountain pens since it has a super smooth finish and handles fountain pen ink very well. Try browsing through the clearance Clairefontaine on our website for deals on notebooks that can be used for kids. Or try out either of the low-priced large or medium size side-stapled and ruled with margin Clairefontaine notebooks.

Calligraphy & French Cursive Handwriting
Calligraphy & French Cursive Handwriting

3) Penmanship Projects

Besides writing poetry or stories, a fountain pen and nice paper can be used to learn or practice French cursive handwriting or calligraphy. If you’re wondering what French cursive is, you can take a look on Google images to see many samples and learning guides. Since cursive handwriting is not included in the curriculum of many schools this is something that students may want to learn at home. To find inspiration and learning guides for calligraphy Google images provides a huge variety of designs!

To learn French cursive handwriting or calligraphy it can be helpful to use French-ruled paper since it has grid lines that are quite useful for cursive writing practice. Clairefontaine paper comes from France and has several notebooks with French-ruled paper such as their inexpensive medium-size staplebound notebook. Our blog post “What is French-Ruled Paper?” will help you better understand what is special about this paper.

Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen
Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen

A couple of good beginner fountain pens to use for learning French cursive handwriting are the Pelikan Pelikano with a fine nib or the disposable Platinum Preppy with a fine nib.

Pilot Plumix Calligraphy Pen
Pilot Plumix Calligraphy Pen

When choosing a beginner calligraphy pen keep in mind that the smaller nibs are easier to write with but are best suited for smaller writing. For regular size handwriting the Pilot Plumix calligraphy pen is a great choice.

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens
Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens come with four different sizes of nibs ranging from 1.5mm to 6.0mm and can be purchased individually or as a set. Once again, don’t forget to buy some ink cartridges or you’ll soon be running out of ink!

Wooly Bully

4) Games

If a child has brothers and sisters or maybe a few neighborhood friends to play with, good old-fashioned board games and card games are a fun social activity. We have discovered from our own experience that if kids like video games chances are very good they will also love board games and card games! All you have to know is how to count to play a crazy action packed game of Halli Galli. For kids around 6 or 7 years old a story telling game like Once Upon A Time, or a tile-laying game like Wooly Bully will be fun. For kids 8 and older, try the beautifully illustrated story telling game Dixit, the zany rule-changing card game Fluxx, or Turbo Taxi a fast-paced puzzle game. Teenagers that are sci-fan fans will like Race For The Galaxy, other teens will enjoy Shear Panic the strategy game with Wallace & Gromit-like sheep, or the ever-popular Settlers of Catan. If your children haven’t tried playing Eurogames yet, get them one and they may end up being the most popular kids in the neighborhood this summer!

What are your kids doing this summer? We would love to hear about their favorite games, art, pen and paper projects!

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Student Calligraphy and Fountain Pens

We were recently contacted by a schoolteacher who wanted to introduce her students to the “lost art” of calligraphy and writing with a fountain pen. She was looking for supplies that were both affordable and capable of withstanding the wear and tear of her students. Fortunately, Writer’s Bloc carries a wide selection of calligraphy supplies and fountain pens that are tailored to the needs of students. Our hope is that introducing students to calligraphy and fountain pens will bring about a newfound appreciation for writing. Here are some ideas for teachers and students who want to try their hand at calligraphy and using fountain pens.

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens

The Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen is a good choice for a first fountain pen. This fountain pen is of good quality for its price and is a great way to supply the classroom with affordable quality fountain pens. Students will be able to choose from an array of colors and find one that suits them best.

Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen

The Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen is great for our aspiring little writers since this pen is specially designed for children. The Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen is available in four different colors and is also available with a left-handed nib for all the left-handed writers.

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

For older students, the LAMY Safari is a popular choice. This fountain pen is a favorite daily writer of both teachers and students around the world. The LAMY Safari fountain pen comes in several colors and different nib sizes including 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm calligraphy nibs.

Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pens

For those new to calligraphy the Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pen is a nice starter pen. UPDATE: The Pelikan Script has been discontinued.

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens
Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens

For students wishing to learn calligraphy, some other affordable calligraphy fountain pens choices are:
Pilot Plumix Calligraphy Fountain Pen in Blue, Black or Purple
Pilot Parallel Pen with a 1.5mm Nib, 2.4mm Nib, 3.8mm Nib, 6.0mm Nib, or a Set of All Four Pens

Introduction to Calligraphy Lettering Cards

The Introduction to Calligraphy Lettering Cards from Brause are a useful guide for practicing Calligraphy. Introduce your students to nine different lettering styles and let them teach each other!

French Rule Paper

Many teachers and students in the USA are unfamiliar with the French ruled paper commonly used by students in France and other countries. This paper is an excellent tool for anyone who wants to learn cursive writing, to improve their handwriting or to practice calligraphy. For more information about French rule paper you may wish read one of our previous blog posts: What is French Ruled Paper?

Do you love writing as much as we do? What tools do you personally find useful to help students and others to develop the art of calligraphy and handwriting?

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Should Children Learn Cursive Handwriting?

Whether or not children should be taught how to write in cursive has been a topic in the news recently. We thought we’d interview our resident teacher, Kelly, about her thoughts on this topic.

Kelly, do schools still teach children how to write cursive handwriting?

It varies from school to school, but generally after the primary grades (K-2) handwriting is not explicitly addressed in the curriculum. None of the schools that I have worked in teach cursive systematically or consistently through grade levels.
Why is this skill often no longer included as part of the regular curriculum?

Mainly it is because so much more focus is placed on content areas like math, science, and reading. Even while teaching writing teachers focus so much on organization and ideas that the quality of the handwriting is often overlooked. There is so much to teach in a day, and handwriting– especially cursive– just gets pushed to the wayside.
Why do you think children should learn cursive handwriting in this digital age?

There is value in learning cursive. It teaches students the correct way to write letters so that they can write neatly and efficiently. Speed and legibility are extremely important in standardized testing as students are expected to write essays in short periods of time, and those grading these essays need to be able to read them! In my fifth grade classroom last year I still had students writing their letters backwards, which was both surprising and frustrating. Those that wanted to write in cursive for their final drafts struggled and often had to ask me questions like, "What does a cursive ‘D’ look like?" However, students that had been taught cursive in previous grades generally wrote faster and neater, which is important as difficulty of content and expectations for quality escalate quickly from fifth grade on.
What can parents do to help their children learn cursive even if their school doesn’t include this in the curriculum?

Encourage your students to practice, practice, practice! Watch how they write letters and encourage them to use the correct direction and stroke order when printing. Generally kids think cursive is pretty cool, so if you can teach them how to write it they would be happy to learn (and show their classmates and teacher the next day). At the very least check their homework for spelling and legibility as these are two of the most neglected writing components in school today.

It is also very helpful if your students have the right tools they need to fit their writing style. This might mean finding thicker or thinner pens to write with, using wide-ruled or graph paper to write on, or it could be as easy as adding a pencil grip or eraser.

Thank you Kelly!

Writer’s Bloc has some useful tools for learning cursive or for improving your own handwriting. Many of these tools are used daily by students in parts of Europe, where cursive handwriting is still being taught in school.

For very young students, both the LAMY ABC Fountain Pen and the Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen have ergonomic grips to assist with proper finger placement. These fountain pens have rounded nibs that are very forgiving and easy to write with. The Pelikano Junior is even available with a specially designed left-handed nib. Being a lefty myself, I can tell you from personal experience that this does make a difference.

For older students, the Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen has been in use by millions of students for 50 years and has been recommended by generations of teachers. Like the Pelikano Junior, this pen is also available with a left-handed nib option.

The LAMY Safari is another fountain pen that has been a favorite of both students and adults for the past 30 years.

Of course, learning to write includes making mistakes and maybe even spilling some ink! Washable blue fountain pen ink makes clean-up (including laundry) and corrections easy. Using the Pelikan Ink Eradicator Super Pirat Pen you can erase your writing errors with one end of the pen and then make your corrections using the blue pen on the other end. There are many kinds of washable blue fountain pen inks available in both cartridges and bottles, including LAMY Blue, J. Herbin Bleu Myosotis, Aurora Blue, Pelikan Royal Blue and Pelikan Violet.

French ruled paper seems very unusual to most Americans, but its lines are useful for guiding the size of your upper & lower case letters as well as the size of cursive loops & strokes. There is an example of this as well as a few instructions from DarkskyZ on the Fountain Pen Network (scroll down to find it). I personally enjoyed trying this techniqu

What are your thoughts? Do you think it is important for children to learn cursive handwriting? What tools do you use to help children or yourself improve handwriting skills?


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