My two oldest children attended public school. They both wanted to learn cursive but the school did not teach it. I remember my oldest telling me that some kids who already knew it could get in a group and work together, but cursive wouldn't be taught. So I taught them at home. I started reading everything I could about it, and happened across the "cursive first" ideology. With my third child, I taught her cursive in Kindergarten. She already knew how to form all the manuscript letters, and with all the evidence in favor of cursive, I figured why not. She writes nicer than the older two do, as long as she isn't rushing to get through her work!
We've discovered which mechanical pencils and lead we prefer, and we use Pilot G-2 pens for a lot of work too. I noticed how difficult ball point pens were for me to write with, and how sloppy my children's work looked with them, so it made sense to use a nicer pen. When we began using IEW products, we learned Mr. Pudewa has a thing about using pens over pencils. He has some other interesting things about writing and pens out there, as well as other info about paper vs. digital. He mentions our new favorite pen, about 15 minutes into this one - Pen and Paper, What the Research Says, Part 3 (This whole series is great.)
Funny thing, that podcast came out in June but his story is similar to mine. Last year I was getting ready for Christmas and trying to find some stocking stuffer type gifts. I thought a unique pen would be fun! My kids LOVE office supplies, we walk through office supply stores like most kids walk through a toy store. I decided to try disposable fountain pens (Pilot Varsity).
|Pilot Varsity disposable (M)|
Guess what... everyone LOVED them! That might be an understatement... but more on that later. This pen is a medium nib, so its line is a little wide for my tastes. But it's so easy to write with! You barely touch the paper. A disposable fountain pen is a great pen for young kids to start with because they may be used to pressing hard from using ball point pens or pencils, and you will damage a fountain pen if you press. My youngest bent the nib on her disposable fountain pen as she adjusted to using it. We bent it back twice before it ran out of ink. She has a new refillable pen now (Pilot Kakuno, F), and is a lot more gentle with it!
(We have nibs in 3 sizes, Medium, Fine, and Extra Fine.)
|Pilot Kakuno is a great starter pen for kids, it has a smiley face to remind which way the nib should face.|
There is a great variety available when it comes to fountain pens. One of my favorites is one of my son's pens, a green Gullor 159 (Jinhao). It is a heavy pen and it feels nice in the hand for someone who needs to pay more attention to their writing. The Plum Blossom is not as heavy, but still weightier than most. Weighted pens can be helpful for some people!
|Jinhao 8802 Plum Blossom (M) and Gullor 159 (Jinhao) (M)|
I do see better handwriting with fountain pens, but we still need to focus or we get sloppy. I know my hand is less tired after a lot of writing when I use my fountain pen. I think the Pilot G-2 and other rollerball pens are almost as nice to write with, and don't require messy refills and cleaning that fountain pens do. But fountain pens are just cool and unique! Keep reading if you want to take a look into the madness we've begun...
A little intro to fountain pens. They run out of ink faster than other pens! The ink feathers on thinner paper, but some inks are better than others. If you don't want feathering, use a sturdier paper such as HP Premium Choice Laserjet Paper. Or, use a smaller nib. Our EF nibs are great on any paper.
To refill a fountain pen you need to purchase a compatible ink cartridge (which are disposable) or use a compatible converter (which is refillable). Some pens come with a converter and possibly a cartridge or two. We can't ever get the converters to refill correctly (you can refill them while attached to the nib) so we use a syringe to fill the converters or cartridges. Be sure you are using the proper ink to refill with! One ink we like is Noodler's Black Bulletproof, and we are experimenting with other colors of inks to find our favorites.
A fountain pen needs to be cleaned regularly. We clean them every month or two if used regularly, less used pens might go a little longer.
These pens below are just cute! They are mini fountain pens. They come in 8 colors. The ink cartridges are sold in 3 packs, there are no converters for the pens. Meet the Pilot Petit1 (F).
The next five are our starter pens, the first ones we purchased after we tried the disposables. My son uses the black Pilot Penmanship pen, and my daughters use the clear Pilot Penmanship pens. These are NICE, they have extra fine nibs and look great on any paper! One of the nibs wasn't putting down enough ink when we received it, but if you understand how a fountain pen works you can make minor adjustments. We did, and it works great now. These pens all use Pilot CON-50 Converters as well as Pilot ink cartridges. My first pen is the purple one in the middle, a Pilot Metropolitan Animal. It came with its own converter as well as a nice box to store it in. The white and yellow is the Pilot Kakuno (F), my youngest child's pen. They come in a variety of colors. The clear pens are nice because you can see when they are out of ink.
These are different ink cartridges and converters. As you can see, they are different sizes so you need to know which one fits your pen.
The next picture shows calligraphy fountain pens. My oldest owns the black set, the nibs can be changed on the pen body and come in different widths. Fountain pens have a rounded tip on the nib, calligraphy pens have a flat edge to achieve the wider width and angles when writing. The blue pen is a Pilot Plumix pen (it comes in different colors). It's nearly the same body as the Pilot Penmanship pens above. These are fun when writing in italic styles as well as fancier calligraphy.
Here's where things get really serious. If you like calligraphy the next step is a dip pen. These have no ink cartridges because you dip the nib in the ink. The handle is solid wood and the nib can be removed. The nib is flexible, it bends to achieve the wider lines seen in some types of calligraphy, as well as with Copperplate and other writing styles. These are a lot of fun to write with! My husband made the ink holder for me.
For a less messy approach to calligraphy, there are brush pens. These have a flexible tip and you must learn to control it to write thicker and thinner lines. My son loves practicing this! I am glad he enjoys this style because it takes a lot of practice to achieve the thin and thick lines and good writing. He was pretty excited when I told him that if he practiced a lot, he could make money from having good handwriting. We like the helpful information at Pieces Calligraphy. Some of the pens seen below are:
- Pilot Futayaku Double-Sided Brush Pen - black
- Pilot Petit3 Fude Pen - red, clear blue, pink
- Pentel Fude Touch - green, yellow
- Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen - purple, orange, red, black