Memoria Press's Copybooks, at first glance, appear to be nothing more than handwriting practice books for students in kindergarten through second grade. They ARE handwriting practice books, but they are much more than that. In Copybooks, students are also working on memorization, spelling, reading comprehension, punctuation, vocabulary, and drawing.
Here's how it works. Students begin in Copybook I learning how to form both lower and upper case letters by tracing, then writing them on their own. Once they've learned the letters, they begin with the copy lessons. Lessons each feature a Bible verse (KJV) or a line from a classic children's poem.
Each of these copy lessons has seven brief steps. The first is Bible Story Time. You write the verse or line on the board and read it to your child.
Second, you will study the verse with your child. Discuss unfamiliar words and their meanings. You can also use this time to introduce simple grammar concepts such as identifying nouns and verbs or types of punctuation when children are ready for such topics.
Third, you work with your child to help him or her memorize the verse or line.
Now that children are familiar with the verse, they tackle the fourth step, copying. In the first two books, they copy immediately beneath models, while in the third book, they copy on a blank, lined page to the right of the model.
The fifth step is proofreading and correction.
The sixth step is illustration. Students draw a picture to illustrate the verse or line in the space provided in the lesson.
The final step is to review all the verses they've memorized thus far.
As students work with models of excellent prose and poetry, they absorb proper forms of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and usage.
Copybook verses are reviewed in Memoria's Christian Studies program for students in grades 3 through 5, so Christian Studies becomes a reinforcement tool for the memory work done in the Copybooks.
The Simply Classical Copybook, Manuscript Book One, can be used along with the Simply Classical Core Curriculum for children with special needs, but it can also be used with any child who needs to start out with simpler copywork. Copywork, based on the Bible, uses short and simple paraphrases such as "God created the heaven and the earth." (Gen. 1:1) and "The Lord shall fight for you." (Ex. 14:14) as well as days of the week, months of the year, and Roman numerals.
The three original Copybooks (I, II, and III) and the Simply Classical Copybook teach only printing/manuscript. However, a number of options for cursive are now available from Memoria Press.
Copybook Cursive: Scripture and Poems, Books One and Two begin with letter and number formation using the New American Cursive style. Book One uses scripture and poetry for copywork while Book Two uses scripture passages from Christian Studies 1 along with passages from Astronomy and from Greek myths. Book Two aligns with Memoria Press's Classical Core Curriculum for third grade. (Note that Copybook Cursive Book One has the same content as does the manuscript Copybook III.)
Copybook Cursive: Hymns and Prayers teaches letter and number formation then provides copywork practice using the hymns, prayers, and sayings from Memoria Press's Latina Christiana course and First and Second Form Latin courses.
Copybooks work especially well as part of a classical approach to education, but they are not limited to that approach.
Composition and Sketchbooks
Students can take a break from copywork with the Composition and Sketchbooks I, II, and III. These are for students who have mastered the basics of at least manuscript printing, but they can use either manuscript or cursive since there are no models to follow. Each book has a lined page facing a blank page and every two-page spread so that student can write their own composition then add an illustration. The books vary by the size of the ruled lines. Book I has 5/8" lines. Book II has 1/2 " lines, and Book III is "college-ruled." Consequently, these can be used with students from kindergarten through at least sixth grade.
Memoria Press has developed copywork options that should suit just about every situation, but some of these are especially useful for those using the grade-level programs from Memoria Press. The Composition and Sketchbooks provide yet another avenue for students to practice handwriting while supplying their own creativity. Memoria Press's complete programs for kindergarten through second grade include both a copybook and a Composition and Sketchbook for each year, and you might consider doing the same even if you are not using a complete Memoria Press program.