Handwriting: joining letters

Learning focus

To practise joining letters neatly using long ladder and curly caterpillar letters.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos
  • three activities


Long ladder letters

Some letters are called long ladder letters because they have a long straight line in them.

For example:

l, i, t, u, j and y

Watch the following clip to learn more about these letters.

Learn about long ladder letters.

When joining long ladder letters to other letters, you have to think about where you will finish writing one letter and how you will link it to the next.

Top tip!

  • l is joined by drawing the long line down and then curling the end to join to the next letter.
  • t is the same but you go back at the end of the word to add the cross.

Curly caterpillar letters

Curly caterpillar letters always start with the curl being drawn first.

For example: c, o, a and s

Some curly caterpillar letters have long ladders in them too. You always start with the curve before drawing the long ladder.

For example: d, g, q and f

Learn about curly caterpillar letters.

Top tip!

With the letter f, you draw the curve and long line first.

Then take your pen off the paper to cross the f.

When you are joining up your writing, the cross joins onto the next letter.


You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Practise your long ladder letter joins by completing the "Joining the letter ‘l’" worksheet.

If you can't print the sheet then write your letters out onto your own lined paper.

Top tips!

  • Sit comfortably on a chair with both feet on the floor.
  • Turn your paper slightly so it is on an angle.
  • Keep your back up straight and look down with your head.
  • Write using a pen or pencil.
  • Copy over the example letters first to see and feel how the join is.
Joining the letter 'l'

Activity 2

Now try combining what you have learnt about long ladder letters and curly caterpillar letters to complete this activity.

Write each of the words below out on lined paper three times.

Make your hand writing as neat as you can and see if you can join up some of your letters.

Now choose one of the words and write a sentence as neatly as you can that uses that word.

Remember your handwriting top tips.

It is ok to take a break if your hand is hurting. Do lots of stretching of your fingers to help make it feel better.

Activity 3

Copy these three short tongue twisters out onto lined paper.

Use what you have learnt about long ladder letters and curly caterpillar letters.

Try to make it as neat as you can and join each letter carefully.

You’ve worked really hard practising your handwriting today, now have some fun!

How many times can you say the tongue twisters above without making a mistake?

Maybe you could challenge your friends and family to a tongue twister competition?

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt how to practise joining letters neatly using long ladder and curly caterpillar letters.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help improve your creative writing.

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