Friday, December 6, 2013

Calligraphy - Introduction to the Children

We finally introduced our calligraphy cards! I am already making notes for upcoming changes, based on observation and feedback. But, I'd say - we are definitely in success-mode. Even the children who have not yet received presentations on calligraphy are taking more interest in creating beautiful work, in tracing some of the cards that are meant for tracing and copying.

Now that we have a dedicated area for calligraphy materials that only some children can use (must have had a presentation on it first so as to receive proper instruction - the same as with ANY material), the inspiration is provided for the other children who see the beautiful work done by their classmates, see the beautiful samples we have, see the beautiful materials and their desire to work with them.

These girls (among many others not photographed here) have been waiting two years to get their hands going on calligraphy. When they saw the title on the folder I had in my hands, this was their response.

But not just the girls are interested. Here is Legoboy proudly displaying some of his work. You'll have to trust me he did some work there - all capital letters practice, but he used the names of the other children in the room which I cleared from the paper. He has started calligraphy in the past, but with materials that weren't essential enough. He took a break for a time, waiting on me to have the keys ready, but continues to ask. Now we are ready - and so is he!

For some reason, this one surprised me with his interest. Perhaps he wanted to get away from continuing work with sacraments, perhaps he just wanted to work with me for a change of pace, I don't know. But there he was, ready to work with the calligraphy markers, when several others were done for the day after practicing their shaded writing.

The children have produced beautiful work - thus far, they have been working on their own names a lot - and I don't feel like editing them all. I'll get some of their work posted soon.

A concern presented to me: if the children are working on calligraphy, will they have time to work with the "core" materials?

Result based on observation: The children are inspired in their "core" work when they can do something SO beautiful with it. Calligraphy and illumination (which I am incorporating into our calligraphy practice) also connect us with our Church heritage - we have copies of the Book of Kells, Book of Hours, and other samples of historical and modern work. Our prophecies are written in beautiful calligraphy (done by one of our level 2 catechists) - and the children get to JOIN into that connection with other peoples of other times and places, the next atrium over and centuries away.

This is the work of their hands - with which, when their fundamental needs are fulfilled, frees their ears and hearts to hear the other teachings we have in the atrium.

We can drill them on the core material - but how much better to make it a beautiful experience :)


  1. teresahelenlarson@yahoo.comDecember 7, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    This post makes me very excited, too. Would you be willing to share any more of what you did and what pens you use? I am a homeshooling mom who has fallen in love with Catechesis of the Good Shepherd but has no formal training. We are studying the Middle Ages and I have been trying to find a way to introduce illumination and calligraphy. God bless your work!

    1. When I have the basic outline perfected, I will definitely share a free version of what works, as well as a (low-cost) paid-for version with printables to make it really easy.

      The children have given me fantastic feedback so I hope to have the final version ready by Christmas.

      To share a bit about writing utensils though: we are starting with soft-lead pencils to practice shaded writing (helps the child develop control of pressure and the consciousness of pulling all strokes towards you); then we are using markers because they will provide more consistent writing for their early experiences - get them used to the strokes and the words and the alignment and the style before we delve into writing with actual ink. I am discerning right now, if we need to start with cartridge pens or if we should jump right into dipping inks - how much of a baby step do we need there - the children will let me know soon ;)

      My goal is to keep this all simple, straight-forward - can be used by children in a 90 minute a week class, or can be easily "fleshed out" for children who have daily access (such as homeschoolers at home; or a Montessori class). Cut to the most crucial basics (the keys) so that it is both easy to follow as-is and modify as individuals are comfortable doing so. :)

  2. Jessica--thank you for your posts. This one on calligraphy has left me hanging a bit---I am eager to make changes to our work for this fall. Can you offer any further details about your folders? THANKS!!!