書道 Calligraphy

Wairakei Primary School has a whole-school goal based around handwriting skills. Not only are we developing our letter formation and shape in our handwriting books, we are transferring these skills into our everyday book work.

As well as fine motor skills, there are many other skills involved in handwriting. These include hand-eye coordination, muscle memory, posture, and use of the ‘tripod’ pencil grasp. Students then need to focus on the correct formation of all lower- and upper-case letters and numbers. It is a more complex activity than we realise.

So we tried some different ways of reinforcing our handwriting skills. This is a high-impact teaching strategy, referred to as ‘multiple exposures’. Multiple exposures provide students with different opportunities to encounter and engage with knowledge and skills.

We purchased new calligraphy pens that have brush ends, and this allows for the practising of ‘fancy’ lettering. It helps us add flicks and control the shapes, and experiment. We also decided to try the Japanese version of calligraphy, called 書道 (shodō).

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Japanese calligraphy has different requirements. It uses ink and a specialised brush. The writing is vertical. The way you hold the brush, the pressure you apply, and having to write in an entirely different language means concentration needs to be even greater.

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Japanese writing has shapes and some look like our letters and numbers. I could do the shapes with the brush. And it goes downhill! - Chelsea

The rules are holding the brush in the middle. Don’t touch the brush, because, you know, the ink is there. And you have to hold it up and down, not on the side like a pen. - Ari

My name turned out really big and long. I did my full name and it is huge. You always had to hold the brush up carefully.- Asharntay

You should do all the characters in one move without lifting the brush. - Donald

I made some nice lettering and shapes for my mum. - Manaia

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Calligraphy is connected to the key competency of Using Language, Symbols and Texts, and follows the directives of Teaching Handwriting (Ministry of Education, 2008), which states that handwriting “along with spelling and punctuation, is an essential tool in effective written communication.”

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Keywords: Handwriting, Calligraphy

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