Thursday, June 7, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: New American Cursive 2 - Famous Americans from Memoria Press

Memoria Press

We requested New American Cursive 2 (Famous Americans) from Memoria Press to review this year after completing Workbook 1 years ago. I wanted to build on what my daughter was taught in the first book. Furthermore, I believe that children should learn cursive. Research states that children who are fluid writers and have learned handwriting tend to do better in Reading, Spelling, and Grammar. They also have improved written communication skills, fine motor skills, and memory skills.

Product Description
The New American Cursive series is an innovative penmanship program that eliminates 26 unnecessary strokes as seen in other traditional cursive approaches. This simplified letter formation method with fewer strokes was developed by Iris Hatfield, an experienced handwriting specialist with over 35 years of experience. 

We received a physical copy of the 145-page consumable penmanship workbook in the mail. This is NOT a reproducible book; it is meant to be completed by one student. The pages are printed in black and white with an easy-to-read font. This secular spiral-bound book is intended to be used with elementary-aged children in 1st-4th grade. The landscape binding at the top makes it easier for students to write especially if they are left-handed. 
New American Cursive 2 (Scripture)

A Reference Chart showing the alphabet (uppercase and lowercase) and numerals written using New American Cursive is printed on the back of the front cover. The workbook begins with an Introduction which discusses the importance of children learning handwriting. It also mentions the benefits of teaching penmanship at an early age. Children gain a sense of accomplishment and learn self-discipline when learning to write fluidly in cursive.

The Table of Contents lists the titles for the lessons and indicates the page numbers. The book consists of 125 instructional lessons. There's usually only one or two lessons per page to complete. The lessons are categorized as follows: Instructional, Practice, Fun Exercises, Journaling, and Artwork. The 8-page Teaching Guide that is included in the book discusses the 3 P's of Penmanship: Posture, Pencil, and Paper Position. It also mentions that the focus should be on the 3 S's of Penmanship after students have mastered letter formation. The 3 S's are Size, Spacing, and Slant. Furthermore, the book discusses the purpose for each type of exercise. For example, Instructional pages are meant to review and reinforce letter formation and learning. Alyssa traced and wrote letters as she compared her formations. The Quotations were selected in order to develop character and penmanship. The Art and Fun Exercises were chosen to develop the child's imagination and fine motor skills. The short words utilized on the Practice Pages were designed so that children could focus on writing neatly and legible. Students are taught how to evaluate their own writing. The book not only presents handwriting practice pages, but it contains creative writing and journal prompts. The Journal pages were created as special "free writing" assignments to increase the child's imagination, develop better penmanship skills, and develop a love for creative writing habits. The guide also lists additional ways to teach children writing, offers assessment ideas, lists teaching tips, and shares information about their Penmanship Contest.   

The author provides the teacher with a reproducible Handwriting Evaluation Checklist on page 132 to check the student's progress throughout the year periodically. She also encourages children to listen to classical music while working on practice pages. It is highly recommended that students work on a lesson for 15-20 minutes on a daily basis.

There's a alphabet chart on the back cover that utilizes arrows are to show the directional steps for writing lowercase letters, uppercase letters, and numbers. Reproducible practice pages with line heights of 18, 24, 30, 36, and 42 are found at the back of the book. The author also provides the user with reproducible journal pages for extra practice.
Alphabet Reference Chart
Size 42
Size 18 Lines

How We Used New American Cursive
New American Cursive 2 (Famous Americans) was utilized 3-5 times per week for approximately 15-30 minutes each day by my 10-year-old daughter, Alyssa, who is about to complete her 4th grade year. She has a lot of experience with different cursive writing programs over the years. We worked through the workbook in sequential order. She completed 2-5 pages per day. Younger children with some cursive writing experience could easily complete one page a day.

The book begins with a review of letter and number formations, the pencil holding or grip position, types of letter connections, proper paper placement, posture, slants, neatness, and spacing. She reviewed the three main letter connections: Grins, jumps, and smiles. She even had the chance to read a letter written in cursive. The book also covers different writing styles and provides the child with practice pages. The lines gradually decrease in size as her writing skills develop over time.  
Reviewing Alphabet
Reading Cursive

Consistent Slant Exercise 

Test Pages
 and Dictations were also included in the book. In the first photo, Alyssa was writing all the uppercase and lowercase letters on her Test Page. She also wrote a quote from her Holes book that I dictated to her on her Dictation page.  
Test Page: Letter Formations
Holes Dictation
Two letters at a time are taught on the Instructional and Practice Pages. As you can see in the photo below, Mr. Meerkat used direction arrows and starting dots to show her the correct letter formations in the top-right corner. Then, she traced and wrote each letter about 6-8 times. Next, my daughter practiced letter connections within a word and wrote the word several times each. Lastly, she would indicate her best cursive letter and word by circling it. The icon at the bottom of the page shows her the correct pencil position. The Practice Page gave Alyssa the chance to write words that begin with the letters Q and R while practicing letter connections. The student is frequently reminded to use correct form, spacing, posture, and pencil positioning.     
Instructional Page for Q and R
Letters I and J
Correct Posture
Practice Page Q and R
Correct Spacing 
Practice Page K and L
Correct Letter Form

The quotations added to the book are famous words from a variety of well-known Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Wooden, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. There weren't as many quotations as I had expected. The Quotation exercises were my favorite part of the program. Several different activities were presented such as writing the quote several times in a row, drawing a related illustration, and even explaining the meaning of the quote in your own words. This gives the child time to really think about the quote they are writing. The photo below is an example of a Benjamin Franklin quote Alyssa wrote twice, "Do good to your friends to keep them, to your enemies to win them." She drew a picture of a friend helping another person. She also evaluated her own work by placing a checkmark next to the neatest quote. Then, on the next page, she was asked to describe and write how she could be kind on smaller size 18 lines.   

Alyssa read an excellent biography about Benjamin Franklin this year so she was happy to learn several new quotes by him mentioned in the book. She has plenty of drawing space. The quote shared was "A place for everything, everything in its place." My daughter had the task of drawing things she liked to organize. As you can see she listed Shopkins, tea bags, and Hatchimals. 

Alyssa explained the meaning of the quote, You cannot win if you do not begin." She wrote her response in cursive. Notice that the placement guidelines have disappeared and the line size is much smaller.  

My daughter wrote about a pet cat we used to own named Gypsy on one of the Fun Pages. Plenty of drawing space was given for a matching illustration. The Fun Pages and Journal Pages provided variety in her routine so she didn't get bored with lessons.    

Write About Your Favorite State

My daughter truly enjoyed the Journal writing assignments in the book. The prompts were simple and short. Alyssa wrote about several things she was thankful and focused on evenly spacing out the words. This prompt did not provide her with white space for an illustration.    

The book consists of three evaluations. She completed Evaluation One found in Lesson 12 shortly after we received the book. It asked her to "Write a page about why handwriting is important and what you would like to improve about your handwriting. Use your best cursive handwriting. Sign and put a date at the end." An evaluation grade can be given if desired.   

My daughter will complete Lesson 85 (Evaluation Two) which is found on page 93 this week. She'll be writing on size 18 lines. The lesson states that she must "Write a page about your favorite subjects in school. Use your best cursive writing. Sign your name and put the date at the end. Check Evaluation One to see how much your handwriting has improved." I can't wait to see the progress she's made in such a short amount of time. I can already tell that Alyssa is writing neater and not rushing through her work.

Our Thoughts
Alyssa was excited about using the New American Cursive workbook series again. We both still prefer this book's cursive writing approach. She'll continue to utilize the book next year and in her free time. Her cursive writing has definitely improved, her speed has increased, and she is also writing letters and words with more accuracy. Beautifully, legibly written letters, words, quotations, and passages are weaved throughout the pages of this workbook. The process seems easier and smoother since she's gained experience over the years writing in cursive. She's definitely a more confident writer.

My daughter can read cursive writing with more accuracy as well. She can't wait to write letters in cursive to family members over the summer with hopes that they'll respond back in cursive. It is an exceptional penmanship program emphasizing an easy-to-follow, gentle approach to writing!

Alyssa's Thoughts
I like how you can illustrate your writing. They also reviewed and reminded me about smiles, grins, and jumps. The book slowly works its way from letters to paragraphs. The lines also get smaller. Mr. Meerkat is a cool mascot! It has test pages and other ways for me to grade myself that teach me to be honest with myself about my work. My favorite part of the program is that it lets me test myself and teaches me different types of cursive. The creative writing prompts were fun!    

Different Writing Styles Introduction

What We Liked
  • Simplified Approach with Fewer Strokes
  • Writing and Grammar Integration
  • Grade Levels Not Indicated 
  • Spiral-Bound Format
  • Variety of Writing Exercises
  • Self-Evaluation Built-In
  • Multi-Sensory Approach
  • Usage Flexibility 
  • User-Friendly
Possible Vendor Suggestions
  1. Add More Famous American History Quotes
  2. Only One Writing Prompt Per Page with Drawing Space Included

The New American Cursive 2 (Famous Americans) workbook costs $22.95. There are two versions of Book 2: Famous Americans and Scripture. It can be purchased at the Memoria Press website. No teacher's guide is required to teach the lessons. The price may be a little more than other penmanship programs on the market, but this unique handwriting program offers more than just a copywork book. Your child can flourish while they practice their creative writing skills. 

Note: Price subject to change without notice.

New American Cursive 2 (Famous Americans) could easily be utilized in a homeschool environment or in a private school classroom setting. I highly recommend the book to individuals implementing a secular or classical education approach. If the traditional workbook approach appeals to you, then you may want to consider using this book with your children. If you have children with some background knowledge or experience with cursive writing, then New American Cursive 2 might be a perfect fit for your child. Furthermore, if your child enjoys writing, then this book would be an ideal program to try. I suggest that the first New American Cursive book be completed prior to attempting the second book so that the child can familiarize themselves with the technique. The concepts taught in the second book build on the previously learned skills and methodology of the first book.  

Memoria Press offers several workbooks within this series for you to choose from depending on your child's background experience with cursive writing.    
New American Cursive

Social Media
Facebook Tag: @memoriapress
Twitter Tag: @MemoriaPress
Google+ Tag: +Memoriapress1
Instagram Tag: @memoriapress
You Tube

You can check out the other Crew member reviews for the New American Cursive 2 (Famous Americans) book and other products offered through Memoria Press on the Homeschool Review Crew blog. The following programs were recently reviewed:
New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

No comments:

Post a Comment