Wednesday, July 3, 2013

{Crew Review} Classical Conversations PreScripts for Art & Copywork


Hello, My name is Alane and I’m a copywork slacker.

I always have the best of intentions to have my kids practice their handwriting in authentic learning tasks – such as copywork – but I usually do not get much further than the “planning” stage.  I saw the opportunity to review Classical Conversations newer PreScripts cursive handwriting books (with art lessons to boot!) and knew this was a product we just had to have.

It was a little hard to choose from the four options:

PreScripts Cursive Letters and Coloring (Age 3-7) – $11.99 {Sample Pages}
PreScripts Cursive Words and Drawing (Age 5-10) – $12.99  {Sample Pages}
PreScripts Cursive Sentences and Art Lessons (Age 7-12) – $12.99  {Sample Pages}
PreScripts Cursive Passages and Illuminations (Age 9-high school) -– $12.99 {Sample Pages}

In the end, I chose the age 7-12 Cursive Sentences and Art lessons, thinking that Luke would be right in the middle of the age range and it would be perfect for him.  Levi is on the young side (7.5+ years), but he’s known cursive handwriting since kindergarten, so I figured it wouldn’t be too hard for him to use.

The book has 144 pages, though some are blank so that you can copy the art lessons directly into the top spiral bound book as a nice portfolio of work.  In it are 4 sets of lessons; each set is 6 lessons long with pages for review at the end. According to the book, the review is to help your children “master the cursive letters and words but also retains the historical content.”

The art lessons center of providing your students with some skills to help them work on elements of:

point of view
Hard and soft lead pencil, a blending stump and gum eraser are recommended supplies (we didn’t use the blending stump or gum eraser).

For each lesson, your student is given two opportunities to write the same sentence (they are labeled “a” and “b”).  The copywork is printed in a light gray that is easy to trace over prior to copying the sentence:


Photo 6

After each set of sentences, students are given a black-line drawing of a piece of art to practice with. 


Photo 4

Here’s a sample from after Lesson 13.  Students are encouraged to practice technical drawing skills, using a ruler and sharp lead pointed pencil.


How we used this:  I really misjudged Levi’s ability to use this.  As I mentioned, he began learning cursive in kindergarten and spent all last year using his cursive to write short sentences and spelling words.  I knew this would stretch his fine motor skills to need to copy longer sentences, but I didn’t take into account that it would really tax his attention and determination to see a rather full page of text to trace and/ or copy.  Levi ended up getting a “pass” on this product review.

Even for Luke, who hasn’t been required to do much cursive handwriting longer than 1-2 sentences at a time, this was challenging – but in a good way.  We worked up to a routine where one day Luke traced the entire sentence, and the next day he would copy part of it.  You can see on the page below that I actually broke up the copywork across a couple days, as he hasn’t finished the last line:

  Photo 3{Since we had just finished learning about the 20th Century in the spring, I let Luke pick sentences to practice that were from his favorite time period – World War II.} 

Luke really struggles with careful work and attention to detail, so you’ll notice quite a few erasures on his work!  But the beauty of copywork is that over time, he is learning the skill of editing his work and being more careful.

Both Luke and Levi found the art projects a bit over their head.  They are pretty risk-averse when it comes to trying to draw {unless, of course, I’m asking them to draw airplane and tank battles – oy}.

The first drawing lesson encouraged students to overlay a grid on a piece of art to help with copying it.  My boys were both very gun-shy to try this technique, so I decided to show them that a very non-artistic person could use the technique to produce a decent approximation; you can see my attempt in the bottom right of this picture:


CC PreScripts Collage
After this, I let Luke pick and choose which art projects he wanted to attempt.  On the left you’ll see his attempt with shading and on the upper right, he created a da Vinci inspired flying machine.

My recommendations & thoughts:  I really like these books even though I definitely chose a level too advanced for Levi.  From the copywork/ handwriting perspective, I think it would be better to purchase so that your student is not on the low end of the age range {especially with the younger students}.  The Sentences book is perfect for my 10 year old, and I know by the time we finish it, his hand strength and fine motor skills will be much improved.  In the fall, I think I’m going to start the year with this lesson plan:

Day 1: Trace sentence “a”
Day 2: Copy 1/2 of sentence “a”
Day 3: Copy next 1/2 of sentence “a”
Day 4: Copy 1/2 sentence “b”
Day 5: Copy 1/2 sentence “b”

Hopefully after the first one or two sets of sentences (6-12 weeks or so), Luke’s fine motor skills we be stronger and he can do a complete sentence in a sitting.

Since my kids are not naturally artsy, the art lessons are a bit advanced even for Luke (age 10), but that is OK.  I look at these particular art lessons as a bonus and perhaps they will be more willing to try them as the year goes on.

Other Schoolhouse Review Crew Members had the chance to try out other levels of these books.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew


All prices are accurate as of blog posting.

1 comment:

Wendy Kaye said...

I still haven't determined whether this level, or the Letters and Coloring level would be best for my youngest (who just turned 11, but has developmental and learning delays). He's not that "big" on coloring, nor drawing! I do want both of my boys to learn to write cursive, though.