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Daily Handwriting Practice, Traditional Manuscript Review by Cindy West

Jill Norris
Evan-Moor Educational Publishers
18 Lower Ragsdale Drive
Monterey, CA 93940-5746

Providing short, daily practice in traditional manuscript handwriting, this book not only aims to teach and improve handwriting but touches on many other skills as well. Appropriate for children in kindergarten through third grade, Daily Handwriting Practice covers a full 36-week school year.

With reproducible pages, the book can be used over and over again for all your children. Lessons from Monday through Thursday take up a half page and require the practice of letters and/or words using the first two of four lines. The other two lines are used to trace and write a sentence. Letters or words that are to be traced are printed in grayscale, with plenty of room afterwards for students to try the letters or words without help. The entire book uses primary paper with dashes going through the middle of the lines.

In the beginning of the book, each letter is practiced in upper and lowercase before sentences are expected. There are no arrows on the lessons to show letter formation, but there is a chart that your child can refer to. I chose to copy the chart and post it on our wall.

These half-page lessons all have a small picture that goes along with the daily topic. If desired, the picture can be colored. Some of the lessons have a little poem or fact in addition to the picture. Some of the topics covered include nutrition, fractions, continents, money, and energy.

On Friday, the lesson is a full-page review of some of the facts presented earlier in the week. For example, one week's topic is on the Earth's layers. Monday through Thursday the child has to write some words and sentences about one layer of the crust. On Friday, the child is asked to list the layers in order and complete a sentence about the Earth. Other Friday activities might include rewriting the steps of a recipe, writing fraction names beside the correct picture, copying a small paragraph, or labeling a map.

Besides the weekly topics, added language skills include things like ABC order, antonyms, verbs, months, and color words. It's the bonus information and skill practice that make this program so intriguing to me. At the same time, I must admit that some children who might be ready to practice manuscript handwriting might not be ready for the level of reading and vocabulary that is expected. A first grader who is a strong reader will likely have no problems, but you might want to hold off until second grade if reading is not strong. Overall, though, I love the program! I especially like the quick lessons that can be finished in 5-10 minutes and all the extra learning that will take place at the same time.

Product review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2008