Yes, it really is THE Zaner-Bloser handwriting program. After years of labeling programs as "similar to" or "in the style of," we are finally able to carry the official Z-B program. It's easy to see why it has such a stellar reputation. The style that has defined "traditional" is coupled with materials that provide clear instruction in all aspects - letter strokes, slants, spacing - as well as lots of practice. Program components include a student book, a spiral-bound teacher book, and a reproducible practice book.
Obviously the heart of the program, the Student Edition features letter models with arrows, simplified stroke descriptions given for every letter that are easy to remember, an emphasis on self-evaluation (i.e. circle your best m, etc.), and constant legibility reminders (i.e. circle a word you wrote that has good slant). Grades K, 1, and 2M are manuscript instruction. Cursive writing instruction can begin in either Grade 2 (2C) or Grade 3. To give you an idea of the instruction path, the 2C book introduces cursive about halfway through the book with undercurve, downcurve, and overcurve letters. Each letter has a page that shows both the manuscript and the cursive form, its stroke description (i.e. for t: Undercurve, Slant; undercurve. Lift. Slide right.), and provides several lines for first tracing the letters, then practicing the letter by itself and then with other letters already learned. Each page has a color photo of some item that starts with the letter (i.e. tractor). I really like the program's emphasis on self-checking - looking back over what has been written and choosing the best example of a letter or a legibility factor. Z-B identifies four Keys to Legibility (Shape, Size, Spacing, and Slant) and little key icons provide reminders to look for good examples. Cursive strokes are introduced in this order: curves, slants, joinings. Uppercase letters are introduced last. Manuscript strokes are introduced in this order: verticals, horizontals, backward circles, forward circles, and slants. The books are colorful, employ a wide variety of cross-curricular content including poetry, and provide for lots of practice. In general, they're engaging and easy to follow. Student books each include a section on writing positions and make provisions for left-handed writers. Grades K, 1, 2M, and 2C student books have a horizontal orientation with portrait orientation starting in Grade 3. Each grade level book starts with a review of previous material.
The Practice Book is a collection of reproducible black and white masters for extra practice pages. Most Student Edition pages have one or two coordinating pages from the Practice Book.
The Teacher Editions are wraparound with reduced student pages with a 1 (Model) - 2 (Practice) - 3 (Evaluate) approach. In addition to background information and articles on handwriting and literacy, page-by-page helps include suggestions for differentiation (i.e. teaching to different learning abilities - struggling or advanced learners) and teaching to different learning styles as well as support for English Language Learners. Use of the Practice Book is coordinated in the TE. The TEs provide particular help in evaluation and in teaching the student how to self-evaluate. Tips From an Occupational Therapist is an on-going sidebar which includes gross and fine motor development activities. Included with the K through Grade 2 TEs is a Music, Mazes and More CD-ROM which features sing-along songs with printable song lyrics as well as optional practice pages. Each TE also includes an evaluation poster showing five different quality levels of handwriting.
There are several ways to purchase the materials for this program. We sell the Student Edition by itself and there is enough instruction and modeling in those books that it could be a stand alone option. However, if you think you'll need more practice or you need more support in teaching, you'll want to look at one of the bundles. Bundle options include: Student Edition plus Practice Book; Student Edition plus Teacher Edition; and Student Edition, Teacher Edition, and Practice Book. Please note that there is only a Student Edition for Grades 7/8. This is a catch-up type of book that includes both manuscript and cursive instruction with some practice and an emphasis on legibility.
Student books are 95 - 160 pgs, pb (largest books are the lower/middle elementary grades). Practice books are 60 - 110 pgs, pb. Teacher books are 110 - 180 pgs, spiral-bound. ~ Janice