D’Nealian Handwriting: Manuscript and Cursive Handwriting Curriculum for Grades K-5

D’Nealian® Handwriting is the original continuous stroke, manuscript-cursive handwriting program! Newly reimagined for today’s elementary classrooms, this supplemental handwriting curriculum now provides an integrated print and digital experience:

  • Complete audio, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic approach
  • Streamlined instructional routine and robust, multimodal practice
  • Prewriting skills, manuscript handwriting, and cursive handwriting
  • Continuous stroke method supports unique learning needs like dyslexia
Teach manuscript handwriting and teach cursive handwriting using D’Nealian Handwriting.

Why Choose D’Nealian Handwriting as Your Supplemental Handwriting Curriculum?

Discover the D’Nealian advantage! D’Nealian Handwriting makes it easy to teach manuscript and cursive handwriting in the elementary grades.

Student using D’Nealian Handwriting curriculum.

Multimodal Learning

D’Nealian Handwriting has been reimagined to provide a complete audio, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic approach to manuscript and cursive handwriting.

The continuous stroke method supports early literacy and fine motor skills development.

Continuous Stroke

The continuous stroke method supports early literacy and fine motor skills development with a focus on proper letter slant, size, and spacing.


Reduce Reversals

Benefit: Because there are few pencil lifts, the D’Nealian continuous stroke method also cuts down on common reversals such as b and d or p and g.

Teach manuscript handwriting and teach cursive handwriting with D'Nealian.

From Manuscript to Cursive

Since most lowercase letters are the same as their cursive version, it’s easier for students to make the transition from manuscript to cursive.

Teach All Learners How to Write Manuscript and How to Write Cursive

  • Streamlined Instructional Routine
  • How the D'Nealian Curriculum Works
  • Practice for Every Learning Modality
  • Digital Resources for Teaching & Learning
  • Support Unique Learning Needs

Streamlined Instructional Routine for Teaching Handwriting

  • 4-Step Lesson Design
    A streamlined approach — Teach, Model and Guide Practice, Practice, and Evaluate — teaches handwriting in a way that is easy to implement in any classroom.
  • Multiple Learning Modalities
    In each lesson, skills are modeled through a variety of learning modalities, including audio, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic.
  • Point-of-Use Resources
    References for Stroke Modeling Animation Videos and printable practice pages, strategies for supporting English language learners, and more are all provided right at point of use.
  • Instructional Support for Spanish
    Explicit teaching support is provided for each tracing or writing skill — and is available in both English and Spanish!
  • Activity Bank
    At the end of each lesson, the Activity Bank provides support for all learning modalities. Additional activities provide enrichment, letter practice, and creative projects.

How D’Nealian Works

  • Build Prewriting Skills
    Students begin by learning the skills they need to prepare them to write, including proper writing sitting position, understanding left-to-right progression, and tracing and drawing lines.
  • Manuscript Letters & Numbers
    Students learn lowercase and capital letters by tracing the letters, then writing them. Students also learn to write numbers and number words.
  • Size, Slant, and Spacing
    D’Nealian Handwriting teaches children proper letter size, slant, and spacing.
  • Transition to Cursive
    The continuous stroke method facilitates a smooth transition to writing lowercase cursive letters. Students learn capital cursive letters by tracing and then writing them.

Practice for Every Learning Modality

  • Practice, Review, & Evaluate
    The Student Edition provides pages for practice, review, and evaluation, giving students ample opportunities to practice forming letters and words, reinforce their learning, and self-evaluate their work. Additional practice pages can be downloaded and printed as needed.
  • Tactile & Kinesthetic Practice
    Support early elementary students with hands-on tactile and kinesthetic learning using Alpha Touch Cards, a classroom set of 25 Write-On/Wipe-Off Cards, and Tracing Letter and Number Cards.
  • Real-World Tasks
    Students practice their writing with real-world writing tasks such as writing addresses, letters, recipes, thank-you notes, and more. Especially as students transition to cursive handwriting, these real-world writing tasks help them understand the importance of learning how to read and write cursive.
  • Activities for All Learners
    Every lesson includes an Activity Bank that offers opportunities to differentiate and extend instruction. Additional practice activities for a variety of learning modalities (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic) are included.
  • Practice with a Personal Touch
    Add a personal touch to handwriting practice with the Practice Generator! Teachers can use pre-built templates to make custom handwriting practice pages featuring students’ names, communities, favorite hobbies, sports, and more.

Digital Resources for Teaching & Learning

  • Stroke Modeling Animation Videos
    Provide audio-visual support with animation videos that model proper size, slant, and spacing for numbers and all manuscript and cursive lowercase and uppercase letters.
  • Interactive Student Practice
    Practice in 3 easy steps! Students watch a stroke modeling video and complete a tracing activity. They finish their interactive practice with free form letter formation.
  • Print-on-Demand Resources
    Teachers can easily print pages from a printable PDF of the Student Edition, or give students even more practice with pages from the Practice and Review Workbook.
  • Practice Generator
    The new Savvas Practice Generator lets teachers quickly create customized practice worksheets for individual learner needs from pre-built templates. Customized practice increases student ownership of learning!

Support Unique Learning Needs

  • Dyslexia & Other Learning Needs
    The continuous stroke method in D’Nealian Handwriting supports students with unique learning needs such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, or fine motor delays.
  • Spelling Patterns
    Using a continuous stroke helps students better learn and retain common spelling patterns.
  • Refine and Correct
    The D’Nealian method also lets students refine and correct their handwriting as they go, making both manuscript and cursive easier to learn.

Free Sample Manuscript Handwriting Lesson

Try a complete D’Nealian Handwriting lesson for free! D’Nealian Handwriting provides complete, step-by-step handwriting lessons for both manuscript handwriting and cursive handwriting. Get started with this Manuscript Letter sample lesson, focused on tracing and writing uppercase D: Teacher’s Edition, Student Edition, and Practice Page. Visit the Interactive Tour for more free sample lessons, including Cursive Letter sample lessons!

Get More Free Lessons

Take a Closer Look at the D’Nealian Handwriting Curriculum


Program Overview

Get a quick overview of the latest edition of D’Nealian Handwriting.

Complete Digital Experience for Manuscript and Cursive Handwriting

Savvas Realize - logo

The digital components of D’Nealian Handwriting are all hosted on the award-winning Savvas Realize® digital platform. Realize integrates with a wide variety of digital tools and systems, such as Google Classroom, Canvas, Schoology, OneDrive, and many more!

With Savvas Realize, you can create custom Playlists. Use ready-made content or upload your own files for maximum customization, then assign to specific students based on their instructional needs. You can also share Playlists with other educators in your school or district!

Free! Handwriting Name Practice Worksheets

Add a personal touch to your students' manuscript handwriting practice with these free handwriting name practice worksheets! Get ready-to-print handwriting worksheets featuring 60 of today's most popular children's names. Plus, sign up for free access to D'Nealian Handwriting, which makes it easy for educators to create custom handwriting name practice worksheets for every student in the classroom.

Get Your Worksheets

School Stories

In these inspirational stories, you'll learn about what schools and districts from across the country are doing to help students succeed and shape the future of education.

Get Inspired

D’Nealian Handwriting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is the difference between the D’Nealian Handwriting continuous stroke and other methods like Ball & Stick?

    D’Nealian Handwriting features a continuous stroke for lowercase letters with a focus on proper size, slant, and spacing of the letters. In comparison, the Ball & Stick method requires students to learn four basic strokes each for manuscript and cursive.

    With D’Nealian Handwriting, 87% of lower case letters are the same as their cursive version, allowing children to easily move into cursive writing when ready. With Ball & Stick, manuscript and cursive letters are largely different, requiring students to learn a completely “new” alphabet when they move to cursive.

    Finally, the D’Nealian Handwriting method also cuts down on common reversals (b and d or g and p) because there are no pencil lifts.

  • How does D’Nealian Handwriting support students with prewriting?
    D’Nealian Handwriting helps students practice print concepts, such as left-to-right progression. The program also helps students develop the fine motor skills needed for writing through tracing activities. The program also focuses on proper size, slant, and continuous stroke. Students learn about proper letter size and form and are taught to identify letters that are small, tall, and fall. They also learn proper word and letter spacing, and proper stroke techniques.
  • In D’Nealian Handwriting, when do students transition from manuscript handwriting to cursive handwriting?

    D’Nealian Handwriting helps students transition to cursive in Grade 2. They learn to write lowercase cursive letters first, and then learn to write cursive capital letters.

    The program is designed to help students use their knowledge of manuscript lowercase letters to facilitate an easier transition to cursive lowercase letters. As students work on capital cursive capital letters, they also work on real-world writing tasks.

  • Are there Stroke Modeling Animation Videos for all 26 letters?
    D’Nealian Handwriting provides Stroke Modeling Animation videos for all lowercase manuscript letters (26), all capital manuscript letters (26), all lowercase cursive letters (26), and all capital cursive letters (26), as well as numerals 0-9 (10). Overall, the program provides more than 100 Stroke Modeling Animation videos!