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Presidential Penmanship (e-books)

Zeezok Publishing

PO Box 1960
Elyria, OH 44036

Want to infuse a love of God and country, American history, and good morals into your child's handwriting practice? Then look no further than Presidential Penmanship.

The Presidential Penmanship e-books come in downloadable .pdf files. They are available in A Beka writing style (which I use), and also in the BJU Press, D-Nealian, Getty & Dubay Italic, Handwriting Without Tears, and Zaner-Bloser writing styles. The e-books can be purchased in individual grade levels from first to sixth grade and also in junior high and senior high levels. They are also available as a complete set covering first grade through senior high. This option is the best value.

The Presidential Penmanship program uses presidential quotes and speeches, excerpts from famous American documents (such as the Gettysburg Address and the Declaration of Independence), and Scripture as the basis for handwriting practice. No instruction is included; the books are simply a tool for copywork and penmanship practice. Everything you need is included (except for a pen and pencil of course); just print and you are ready to go. To give a little more detail, here is what you will find in each level:

Grades 1 and 2 offer 36 weeks of lessons with five days worth of practice for each lesson. On day one, children will read the quote and then write it inside outlined letters. (The letters look a little like bubble letters, and children write inside of them.) Days two, three, and four find students tracing the quotation, which has been printed in light gray lettering. Day five is copywork, and children write the quote on the lines provided. All writing for grades 1 and 2 is in manuscript form. The A Beka style, which we used for this review, is straight up and down lettering, no slanting and no cursive.

The quotations used in these grades are short but not lacking in depth. For example, the very first quote of 2nd grade is: "It is impossible to rightly govern a nation without God and the Bible." --George Washington.

Grade 3 is exclusively cursive, as are all of the e-books from here on. It includes 108 lessons and is designed for three lessons to be completed each week, covering a "regular" school year. For this grade, each lesson begins with the quotation printed at the top of the page. It is repeated in light gray lettering, intended for tracing. This is followed by printed lines for the child to write the text on their own. The quotes used in 3rd grade are slightly longer than those found in the 1st and 2nd grade books.

Grade 4 consists of copywork only, no tracing. The 108 quotes provide ample practice. The lines for writing are noticeably smaller than those of the previous grades. Selected quotes are intended to reinforce this nation's founding principles as well as the character qualities of good citizenship.

Grade 5 uses George Washington's "Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior" as its base. There are 53 lessons in all, with each lesson containing two parts: a rule and a related Scripture. For example, lesson one, part one involves the copying of this rule: "Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present." Part two is this related Scripture: "Have regard for good things in the sight of all men" (Romans 12:17b).

Grade 6 includes108 cursive handwriting lessons. The selected quotes focus on the core founding principles of this nation and emphasize selflessness and self-discipline. A "final exam" is also included, in which students copy the Gettysburg Address.

Junior High begins with shorter quotes, gradually increasing in length throughout the year until paragraph-length passages are being copied. Children will copy selections from the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln and Reagan's first and second Inaugural Addresses, and the Gettysburg Address. There are 108 lessons in all (one quote copied each lesson).

The Senior High text is similar to Junior High in that quotes are taken from the same documents and speeches. However, different selections from these speeches are used. Students again begin copying shorter quotes, increasing to longer passages throughout the year. The Senior High e-book also contains 108 lessons.

In my personal opinion, Presidential Penmanship is a great resource. In using this product, children will be exposed to a wealth of wisdom. Not only are students practicing and improving their handwriting skills, they are also learning how to develop strength of character as well as gaining a deeper understanding of the founding principles of this great country. The quotations used throughout the text are wonderful for memorization and a great beginning point for discussions.

Having looked through each grade level and personally using Grades 1 and 2 with my own daughter, I could only find two areas to criticize. First, I felt that 2nd grade involved too much tracing. Of course, this program can be used in any way you see fit, so leaving out some of the tracing is one's own prerogative. Second, I found it difficult to connect some of the Scriptures from Grade 5 to the Rules presented. Even so, I still think Grade 5 is excellent and feel that Scriptures are always useful.

I highly recommend Presidential Penmanship for children of all ages. I believe it to be helpful for developing good handwriting and a wonderful tool for shaping great Americans.

Product review by Stacy Kalisz, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, May 2009

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