The Horizons Penmanship series teaches traditional manuscript printing and the Zaner-Bloser simplified cursive which omits initial loops on capital letters.
The series has five courses, numbered 1 through 5, that are designated in their catalog for grades 1 through 5. However, with the accelerated learning taking place in most kindergarten programs, you might want to begin the first course in kindergarten for students with excellent small-motor coordination.
Each course includes a teacher’s guide and a student workbook. The colorful books include illustrations, but illustrations are relatively small and are found at the top, bottom, or around the border—they don’t dominate the pages.
All levels have specially-designed pages to be used on Fridays for children to write a Bible verse, poem, or quotation they have already practiced writing that week. In the first level, these pages begin with lesson 36 after students have developed the necessary skills.
Student workbook pages are perforated for easy removal. This allows students to more easily write on pages that lie flat on their desk rather than while pages are still in their books. This feature also makes it easy for students to remove and display the specially-designed pages.
All levels have pages at the front of both teacher and student books regarding position, posture, and spacing. Students will need more instruction and supervision as they begin to learn manuscript and cursive, but very little once they have mastered the basic forms and the joins for cursive. I recommend that parents use the teacher’s guides with levels 1 and 2, but you might be able to manage well without them beyond that point.
The first course teaches only manuscript, beginning with practice for accurately copying circles as well as both straight and slanted lines. It continues through the first 15 lessons with practice on other forms that will be incorporated into letters then introduces letters of the alphabet and numbers. Students trace and copy short words in lessons 16 through 38. Brief Bible verses provide the copywork from that point on. A space theme is used in a very limited fashion throughout the book --primarily in some of the illustrations--with a rocket ship shape used to help students learn how to write letters within the spaces on the lines. Lines are only a half inch in height which is appropriate for first graders (the target audience) but might be a little small for kindergartners.
The second course begins with manuscript and introduces cursive toward the middle of the school year. Copywork gradually transitions into cursive after students have mastered enough cursive forms. Once into the cursive lessons there are still alternate lesson pages that offer manuscript practice. The theme for this year is “Praising God in His creation.” Quotes from poetry that helps develop awareness of the beauty and wonder of creation are used along with Bible verses for copywork.
The third level reviews both manuscript and cursive. Students practice writing complete sentences in both manuscript and cursive but with more of the latter. They also learn to write quotations. The book of Genesis is the source for copywork most of which consists of stories (or parts of stories) about Noah, Abraham, and Joseph.
Book four again offers some continuing practice with manuscript printing along with cursive lessons. Some lessons require students to write definitions of words on blank lines. The parables of Jesus provide the copywork material for this course.
The fifth level has a patriotic theme as it uses primary source documents such as “The Gettysburg Address,” George Washington’s “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” and Inaugural Addresses by Presidents Kennedy’s and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Students learn to do self-evaluation of their penmanship and they practice writing cursive from manuscript samples as well as the reverse.
As you can tell from most of the copywork themes, these courses have significant Christian content. Courses will work very well in homeschool settings as well as in classrooms.