The Christian Liberty Handwriting seriesis made up of five books, two for traditional manuscript and three for cursive, for grades K through 4 (although the last book can be used by older students to improve their cursive). The first two manuscript books teach a modified Palmer style, and the three cursive books teach simplified Zaner-Bloser style (with the exception of the “k,” “Q,” and comma). It is a Christian curriculum—Scripture verses (King James Version) and biblically-themed passages provide a fair amount of the copywork.
How Do These Work?
- Level K: In the Beginning starts with circling and X'ing objects, and drawing missing elements. It moves on to tracing and writing circles, slanted and straight lines on 3/4" lines. Letters begin on page 23, working through the alphabet in order and offering three lines of practice for both uppercase and lowercase letters, plus small pictures to color on every page. At the end of the book is a three page overview of numbers, giving students two lines of practice per numeral. Throughout the text are fun activities and helpful assessments for student and teacher.
- Level 1: Writing with Diligence takes a slightly different approach. Instead of working in alphabetical order, it teaches letters in "stroke groups," which helps prepare students for the transition from manuscript to cursive. The text starts with review of basic pencil movements and punctuation marks before heading straight into letter and word formation. Lines are 1/2". Like the previous book, there are pictures for kids to color on each page, and instructional hints and information throughout.
- Level 2: Writing with Prayer reviews manuscript briefly (13 pages), and by the end of the second semester completes the transition from manuscript to cursive. It works first through the entire lowercase alphabet, then the entire uppercase, giving four lines of drill per letter, plus practice of a word that uses the letter, and space to write a practice sentence. After finishing the alphabet, it provides drill using days of the week, months of the year and a variety of other passages to copy. Following the pattern of diminishing size, students write on 3/8" lines in this volume.
- Level 3: Writing with Grace teaches only the 40 letters that are most difficult for students: the capitals and lowercase a, b, e, h, i, k, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, and v. Students write words and sentences, solve puzzles, answer questions and copy short stories on 3/8" lines. There is some vocabulary drill here as well, as kids complete sentences with the word that best fits, all the time practicing those same 40 problem letters.
- Level 4: Writing with Power is similar to Writing with Prayer, working first through the whole lowercase alphabet and then through the uppercase. However, it alots only two lines (3/8") for practicing per letter rather than four. There are other activities as well—writing short bios of American heroes, composing a business letter, writing headlines for a newspaper. This can be a grade 4 or a remedial text.
Each of these is a consumable student text. There is no teacher guide, though each volume includes a "Guidelines for Teaching Handwriting" insert for instructors. Brief introductions to teachers also offer information for encouraging proper posture and form. These are not reproducible, so you'll need a separate text for each student, but the cost is low enough this shouldn't be too problematic.
In the cursive books, some fun activities are included along with exercises that work on other language skills such as alphabetizing and letter writing. Home school personalities from the past are featured in the last three books. Handwriting Practice Pads for either the lower or higher level can be purchased for $2 each.
Our Honest Opinion:
Though these will probably do the job of teaching handwriting, they're not our favorites. One possible problem to be aware of is that lines in the early books might be too small for young children. In all books, instructions are usually given to write a word that is only shown in typeface, but not in cursive. It would help if more models of actual handwriting were shown. Also, the Zaner-Bloser method of handwriting can be difficult for some kids with its exaggerated loops and curves. The Christian emphasis is welcome, though we think the secular Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting offers an easier and better method for teaching and learning handwriting.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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