Beginning & Practice Cursive - Traditional Style
These materials span grades and include both instruction and practice.
This handwriting program uses the Zaner-Bloser style for the traditional style books and D'Nealian for its modern style books. Beginner books start with rubrics for both teacher and student, followed by a presentation of the sailing analogy. A sailboat figure is used at the left of each ruled line to help children orient letters with the directions given. There is some direction given for letter formation on each page by a member of the "crew". Lowercase letters are practiced first, organized by ease of formation rather than alphabetically. These are followed by the numerals, then uppercase letters, with more easily-formed letters first. Each page has a line of tracing the target letter, then a line to copy the target letter with only the starting point supplied. Then, there are three boxes with words beginning with the target letter. Children are asked to draw a picture of each word in the box. After this, there's a final line of letter copying. On lower-case letter pages, children copy the letter again, only without the starting dot. On the upper-case letter pages, children review practice of the lower-case form. Finally, each page has an extension activity that's intended to improve fine-motor skills. These are generally art activities intended to develop fine motor control, but are not directly correlated to lesson content.
Practice books have the same sailing theme, but a different format. These would be used after completion of the Beginner book and the focus is no longer on letter formation, but on writing practice. Dolch words are used in the exercises to give children exposure to the most frequently used words. Letters are presented alphabetically with mixed lower- and upper-case practice on each of the two pages per letter. Short lines at the top of each page allow children to trace and copy several of each. Next is a line to practice writing a focus word, then a line to copy a sentence. Each page then has an activity that requires the student to practice writing within a real-life context. These are just like the activities in the Build Their Skills series. As in that series, the manuscript book has more variety in types of activity while the cursive practice generally is a short, written response to some prompt by a "crew" member.
If you think you'll use both Beginner and Practice books, the combination books are a great value. They contain both 64-page books (for a total of 128 pages), but are much less than double the cost.