Universal Handwriting 3rd Ed. (Full Color)
Although this is a completely new edition of the classic handwriting series, the general layout of these books is much the same as in the previous edition. The difference is COLOR - the workbooks are now full color and, personally, I think it makes a huge difference. Baselines are red; dotted midlines a light blue, illustrations are more interesting, and instruction boxes more noticeable. There are some content differences but letter presentation and sequence is identical. Introductory workbooks include space to practice individual letters, then the letter used in single words, and, lastly, one or two sentences to copy. Review pages include general grammar instruction and writing (composition) assignments. Word and sentence content is often different between the two editions. You could probably characterize the changes as more global names, more info on well-known individuals and a broader selection of content for sentences. For instance, the "old" edition included this sentence for "A" - America is the land of the free and home of the brave. The new edition uses this sentence: Ansel Adams was a famous American photographer.
In this series, the PK through 3rd grade books are landscape orientation, while grades 4-6 are portrait. Workbook structure is consistent through the grade levels with each two-page lesson featuring practice on individual letters, words, and then sentences/passages. Obviously, the line size diminishes through the grade levels while the word and sentence length increases. Sentence/passage content is varied and is drawn from all subject areas - history, science, literature, etc. Letters (with letter stroke descriptions) are presented in the upper left-hand corner of each page. In the cursive books, another box illustrates the joining procedures. Uppercase letters are presented and practiced separately from lowercase initially. Colorful illustrations highlight individual words. Specific troubleshooting instruction (i.e. line quality, spacing, pencil position) is presented periodically. Most lessons conclude with a brief check-up list to keep students oriented on quality issues. Both a pretest and a posttest are included with each workbook.
The series includes a Writing Readiness (PK) workbook that emphasizes left to right orientation. Manuscript strokes and letters are then introduced and practiced in the Basic Strokes & Letters (PK/K; 1-inch), Beginning Manuscript (K; 1-inch), Reinforcing Manuscript (1; 1/2-inch), and Mastering Manuscript (2M; 1/2-inch) books with progressively longer content and slightly smaller line size. The Manuscript Review and Intro to Cursive (2MC; 1/2-inch) book can be used either at the end of 2nd grade or the beginning of 3rd grade when the student is ready to move into cursive. This book reviews all manuscript letters before introducing the cursive letter strokes. Starting with Beginning Cursive (3; 3/8-inch) cursive letter strokes and joins are introduced and practiced.
This 3rd edition now includes specific Teacher's Manuals for each writing workbook. These are pricey but nicely done full-color spiral-bound books that include reduced copies of each student workbook page. An introductory article on the rationale for teaching handwriting (in an age of keyboards) provides some of the most convincing research documentation on this subject that I've seen. I was intrigued to learn that MRI scans show that young brains "light up" with adult-level activation when students are writing by hand while typing produces no similar activation. The wrap-around teacher helps include stated objectives for each lesson and detailed, step-by-step instructions for three teaching steps (model/discuss, practice, self-evaluate). One other regular feature of these manuals may make them worth the cost for some parents. Each lesson includes an OT tip from Katherine Collmer, teacher and occupational therapist. Also included are specific stroke descriptions as well as corrective techniques for each manuscript and cursive letter.
Despite the value of the TMs for this 3rd edition, I do think it would be possible to use the much less expensive 2nd edition TM (#58975) with the colorful 3rd edition workbooks as long as you recognize that the teaching information and helps are much more general rather than the daily-lesson specific instruction found in the 3rd ed. TMs. Workbooks - 80 pgs, pb; TMs - 148 pgs, spiral-bound ~ Janice