New Jersey Is the Latest State to Push for Cursive in the Classroom

Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images
Ridofranz/iStock via Getty Images

If you happen to have spent some time with kids who graduated from elementary school in the last decade or so, you may notice they have little idea how to form the graceful Gs and 2-shaped Qs of cursive—or any other cursive letter, for that matter. The cursive alphabet was cut from the Common Core curriculum in 2010, and it’s been making those of us who learned it feel old ever since.

However, a number of states—most recently, Texas—have elected to reintroduce cursive into schools in the last few years, and New Jersey is hoping to follow suit. According to WPEC, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight is sponsoring a bill that would require students to master reading and writing in cursive by the end of third grade.

“Our world has indeed become increasingly dependent on technology, but how will our students ever know how to read a scripted font on a Word document, or even sign the back of a check, if they never learn to read and write in cursive?” McKnight asked in a press release. “This bill will ensure every young student in New Jersey will have this valuable skill to carry with them into adulthood.”

Opponents could make the argument that physical checks and scripted fonts are well on their way to becoming relics of the past right alongside cursive literacy, but it’s not just real-world applications that make learning the loopy alphabet such a valuable skill.

“Some research suggests that learning to read and write in cursive benefits the development of cognitive, motor, and literacy skills,” the bill says. “In addition, instruction in cursive handwriting has been associated with improved academic outcomes for students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.”

It may also increase your SAT scores, improve your spelling, and more—read about its other benefits here.

[h/t WPEC]

Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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The Little News Ears Podcast Helps Keep Kids Informed Without Overwhelming Them

Little News Ears translates current events into kid-friendly terms so parents don't have to.
Little News Ears translates current events into kid-friendly terms so parents don't have to.
Ranta Images/iStock via Getty Images

Kids are often curious about things they overhear on television or in conversations around them, but trying to translate that information into a kid-friendly format isn’t always easy. That’s where Little News Ears can help.

The program, available both as a podcast and as a YouTube video series, explains intriguing news stories to children in a simple, upbeat, and often funny way. In it, a young boy named Bram, a futuristic dog-like being named BoxerBlu, and a loris named Otis cover everything from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to step away from their royal duties to people mudlarking (hunting for treasure) along the River Thames. More serious topics, like the deaths of high-profile people, are presented “in the vein of Fred Rogers teaching children about the Kennedy assassination,” as the website explains.

Little News Ears was created by Dan Buck, a former primary school teacher who now serves as the Head of School at Tessa International School in Hoboken, New Jersey. While the focus of the series itself is to express the news in ways that preschoolers and elementary school students can understand without frightening or overwhelming them, the website also includes lesson plans, vocabulary lists, and other resources to help parents and teachers learn how best to educate children on current events.

Usually, Little News Ears is offered as a subscription service—$6 per month or $55 for an entire year—but Buck and his team have made the program, along with the supplemental materials for educators, completely free for as long as the coronavirus pandemic lasts. You can learn more about the site and sign up for free access here.