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A-Z Family Life in Colonial Times

By Joy Marie Dunlap
LightHome Publications

27695 Blue Diamond Lane
Romoland, CA 92585-9019

This downloadable 48-page e-book is a unit study and penmanship workbook for grades 2-8 using alphabetical examples of life in colonial times for students to copy. Also included are recipes, crafts, activities, coloring pages, and group activity suggestions. Once you purchase the book, you are able to download it as an Adobe PDF file, which means to open the file, you must have Acrobat Reader, a free program easily downloaded from the Internet. Once you have purchased it, you may use it for as many children in your family as necessary.

If you are looking at this book on the website or in a catalog, you could very easily be confused. It is called by many different names: A-Z History Unit Study, Penmanship, A-Z Family Life in Colonial Times, A-Z History Unit Study Copywork, and Alphabet of Colonial Family Life. But if you get past the confusion of the "titles" of this book and read the product description, you will find that it is everything the titles say it is and more. Below I will describe in detail what you will find in the book; however, the website does a good job of describing the product and also has sample pages for you to download.

There are 26 pages of penmanship exercises, one for each letter of the alphabet, describing life in Colonial times. The pages are for standard cursive writing, and the writing samples and lined writing guides are about the size of college-ruled notebook paper. This size of writing would most likely be difficult for second through fourth grade students, but it would be very nice practice for fifth grade on up. It would depend on the motor skills of your student. Each penmanship page includes a note at the bottom that describes a corresponding Colonial craft or activity and gives teaching and discussion ideas. For example, the "T" page is titled "Trenchers and Trundlebeds," and it has the following copywork:

In Colonial times, families ate on flat wooden plates called trenchers. They were like a cutting board, with an edge around it. Several people shared one trencher. Children stood quietly beside the table to eat, while the grown ups sat on straight-backed chairs and talked. A trundlebed was a low bed that could slide under the parents' bed during the day so it was out of the way. Most Colonial families did not have many bedrooms.

The note on the bottom of the page reads,

Have a meal in which you share plates and your kids eat standing up, for one meal. Have them eat quickly and in silence (just for this one-meal Colonial experience). While this experience may not be pleasant for modern day kids, it is a way to help your kids develop a deep sense of gratitude. Gratitude comes partly from realizing how much you have compared to other situations where kids live in poverty, or another time period like the Colonial period when there were so many more rules, and fewer privileges than kids enjoy today. Without any basis of comparison, our kids are not likely to develop a mature spirit of gratitude, which brings contentment and joy to a wider range of life circumstances. Not everyone can (or could) have it all!

In addition to these penmanship pages, you will find a Colonial dinner menu with five recipes and illustrations, several Colonial crafts, eleven coloring pages depicting various scenes and items from Colonial times, activity suggestions, discussion and teaching suggestions, and group activity suggestions. The pages of this book are filled with old-fashioned illustrations, as well as photos of the author's family involved in Colonial re-enactments and performing the described activities (lovely family!).

This book could be used in many ways for all ages. It has enough material to be a good unit study on its own. It would also be a great supplement to your current history curriculum. It is a great penmanship book. It would be wonderful for a co-op class, for classroom use, or for a summer camp activity. It is a great resource for planning family time. Personally, I don't use many unit study materials in my homeschool, but I will definitely be using this for penmanship and for the enjoyable educational bonus while my children learn more about life in Colonial times as they work independently.

As with all the other LightHome Publications products I have seen, the graphics are wonderful and the pages are beautifully designed. The Dunlap family has a great eye for beautiful artwork, and it shows in all their books. I saw a few minor typos, but they detract in no way from the integrity of this lovely book. The book is designed for printing in black and white, but the graphics have a few inconsistencies in the computer file. If you only have a color printer and print in color, you will get a spattering of color graphics mixed in with your black-and-white illustrations. For example, when you view the "D" page onscreen ("Dairy Cows"), the illustration of the milking stool is in color, while the illustrations of the cow, dairy products, and churn are in black and white.

Even if you don't need any materials on Colonial times, please check out the LightHome Publications website. There are many more beautiful penmanship and/or unit study workbooks for many more subjects and grade levels. You will find penmanship books with prose, hymns, Scripture verses, famous quotes, and more, all with beautiful illustrations and pretty pages. You can download sample pages to see for yourself how delightful these books are. LightHome Publications makes the finest penmanship products I have ever seen. This book retails on the website for $13.00, but at the time of this review, it was on sale for $6.08, which is an excellent value for an e-book that is fully reproducible for as many children in your family who need it. Ever since I discovered LightHome Publications penmanship books, they have been the only penmanship books we use. Their charming pages delight and motivate my children to practice good handwriting cheerfully and neatly.

Product review by Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, August 2009

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