Sunday, January 17, 2010

Presidential Penmanship Italic Style Complete Program CD from Zeezok Publishing, a TOS Crew Review

I had no idea what to expect when I learned I'd be getting a program called "Presidential Penmanship Italic Style". My middle schooler said aloud what I was thinking, "Why would we want to learn to write in italic?"

My homeschooler struggles with penmanship. Penmanship requires motor planning, some fine motor, some gross motor, some thinking about letter shapes, spelling, planning so you don't run out of space at the end of a line in the middle of a word, all at the same time.

I'm considering the purchase of software that types what we speak to simply bypass the penmanship challenge altogether. I'm not in the market for another how-to-teach handwriting program.

And I'm pleasantly surprised that "Presidential Penmanship Italic Style" is not a how-to-teach handwriting program. "Presidential Penmanship Italic Style" is a supplemental program on CD for handwriting skills that covers grades 1-6, Junior High and Senior High." It's basically copywork using scripture and quotes and speeches from the docments, leaders and presidents of the United States of America, where the quotes are leveled from easy/short to longer/more challenging to memorize as the grade increases. And yes, the copywork part of it is sooooooooo a workbox item, one of those rare finds that I can use to grow my daughter's experience with independent work.

The program is priced at $39, covers elementary school to senior high, and allows users to print only what is needed. Additional cost: Purchasers will need a printer, copy paper and toner in order to use the program, or purchasers will need to take the CD to an office supply store to have the needed sections printed.

You'll need Adobe Reader to access the files. Adobe Reader 9 is included on the CD for you. There are nine pdf files on the CD:

First grade = 75 pages covering 36 lessons
Second grade = 75 pages covering 36 lessons
Third grade = 111 pages covering 108 lessons
Fourth grade = 109 pages covering 108 lessons
Fifth grade = 109 pages covering 53 lessons
Sixth grade = 112 pages covering 108 lessons
Junior high = 111 pages covering 108 lessons
Senior high = 111 pages covering 108 lessons
The ninth file is a product catalog.

We are concentrating on the first grade file at my house. The first grade quotes are short, simple. I like the way that the program at this level offers four opportunities to practice. The first time a student views a quote, the student can finger trace it. The quote is next presented in a kind of outline form, where the beginning points are represented with dots, and students are told to begin tracing at the dots. The same quote is present a third time, in what I'd describe as a shadow to trace. Last, the student copies the quote to blank lines, either from memory, or from copying one of the existing versions.

The lines spacing is generous for young children and children with fine motor delays that affect handwriting.

The quotes can send you off on some interesting "rabbit trails" as you look up the definition of a new vocabulary word with your child or you look up a person or document and add to your knowledge of history.

For my homeschooler, we are working to memorize the quote and author before she sees the copywork sheet. One reason is that she is less likely to protest if she already knows the line she's about to write. Here's another reason: Did you watch the tv show, West Wing? The characters from that tv show were always quoting a long-dead president. I wondered to myself if real legislators quote like that. And then, my representive in Washington DC met with constituents in the home of someone I know who invited me to come. And yes, as he listened to our concerns and interacted with us, he quoted from our founding fathers quite a few times. I left the meeting thinking, "They do talk like the characters on the West Wing!" *grin*

The italics that I'd wondered about when I first heard about them are gentler, more forgiving than some handwriting styles and programs, and I suspect italics may actually be easier for children who manage fine motor challenges every day.

Is it a good value? Here's how I think about it: For $39, for first grade through high school, I can pop the CD into my computer, print the page or pages for the next lesson to memorize and be done. No searching for an appropriate quote, no typing it into the gadget that prints it into the kind of lined copywork paper I need. Yes, that's a price I might pay for a product like this one. It's not a product that I'd have looked for, though, because I didn't know it existed.

Zeezok Publishing sent TOS Homeschool Crewmates, free, to review, a variety of products. I received the Presidential Penmanship Italic Style Complete Program CD. Zeezok Publishing sent a variety of products to Crewmates, so be sure to check out the link HERE that takes you to all of the Crew reviews for this company.

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