Homeschool Discoveries

Sharing a few things I've discovered along the way…

Tech Tuesday: How to Create Your Own Copywork or Handwriting Pages April 3, 2012

Filed under: Technology — kirstenjoyhill @ 11:09 pm
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A friend asked me today if I knew of a website to easily create custom copywork IMG_6335pages with traceable letters.  I knew I had heard of one, but I didn’t have it bookmarked.  A google search revealed that Worksheet Works has a free handwriting practice sheet generator with options for both print and cursive writing styles in either solid or dashed text.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it’s exactly what my friend was looking for!

I’ve always made custom copywork or handwriting practice pages using either Microsoft Word or Microsoft Publisher.  There are several free printing and cursive handwriting fonts.  Check out this page at and this listing at for several options.

One aspect of making a practice sheet in Word or Publisher that always befuddled me a bit was creating the blank lines below or next to the text as a space for doing the copying.  The best I was able to come up with copying a free blank handwriting page into the file as a picture or graphic.  This was a clunky solution but better than nothing.

This post at alerted me to a better solution.  Some handwriting/penmanship fonts (including one I had installed, penmanship print), include a blank rule, accessible by using the ` key (this is the symbol below ~, in the upper left of your keyboard).  Brilliant!  I also learned a new trick from reading this thread at the Well-Trained mind forums — in Word, type several asterisks in a row like this *****, and then hit enter.  You’ll get a nice dotted line that extends across your page.  This might come in handy for certain handwriting situations as well!

Finally, if you are looking for a more fully-featured custom copywork or handwriting solution, many people seem to like StartWrite.  I haven’t tried this software, but from a brief look at their website,  I see it includes many neat features like fancy borders, colored text, easy-to-insert graphics, start-point dots, and more.  This software will run you $24.95 or $39.95 depending on which version you select.

I haven’t made many copywork or handwriting sheets lately — Mr. E is just getting to the point of more interest in writing, and Miss M gets a lot of cursive practice with her “Reason for Handwriting” workbook.  I also hadn’t yet installed a cursive font that I was really happy with.  But doing this research for my friend has given me renewed interest in doing this!


C is for Cursive March 7, 2012

Filed under: Curriculum — kirstenjoyhill @ 8:07 am
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Miss M asked to start learning cursive last year as a first grader.  Considering that for most of the previous two years she complained about having to write almost anything, this really took me by surprise.  I am one of those adults who never writes in “pure” cursive — I hated cursive penmanship practice in grade school, and my current handwriting is my own blend of printing and cursive (though I think it leans more to the “printing” side of things). I was perfectly willing to let Miss M wait until at least third grade to learn cursive, if not later.

Not wanting to miss this moment of her interest, however, I bought her “A Reason for Handwriting” book C a little over a year ago.  She spent last spring dabbling in learning her cursive letters.  The first section of the book is dedicated to first practicing each individual letter, adding in a few simple words once enough letters are learned.  After a break for the summer, I reviewed with Miss M the letters she had learned the previous spring, and she finished learning the rest of the alphabet.

Then the real fun begins.  🙂 The second section of the book contains 32 weeks of lessons, each featuring a Bible verse. Days 1 through 3 of each week’s lesson contain individual practice words from the verse.  Day 4 is tracing the verse, while Day 5 is writing the verse out on a piece of handwriting paper with a decorative border (the border paper is provided in the back of the workbook). I assign Miss M cursive practice every day, and occasionally I have her “double up” somewhere in days 1 through 3 or skip the tracing day if we don’t have five full/regular school days in a particular week.

While Miss M still usually chooses to print in the rest of her school work, I can really see her cursive improving.  It will be better than mine pretty soon!

I’m linking up with:



Collage Friday: Math Games Week January 20, 2012

Filed under: Weekly Highlights — kirstenjoyhill @ 5:36 pm
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Collage Friday - January 20th, 2012

Collage Friday - January 20th, 2012

1 & 2:  We had a “math games week” this week.  When I looked at the upcoming lessons in Right Start C at the end of last, I noticed that we were scheduled for two lessons to learn new games, followed by a review lesson with suggested games.  We played games for math each day M-Th — Short Chain Subtraction Solitaire is the game in both pictures.  We intended to play a game today too, but the review sheet took longer than expected.

In #2, even Mr. E got in on the act of helping with the game.  He is what some people might call “mathy.”  I have never really taught him anything about subtraction, but somehow he figured out the answer to a bunch of problems, or could figure them out with a small hint.  He begged for a Right Start lesson of his own today, and we ended up breezing through about three lessons of level A, after not doing any since well before Christmas break.    I feel bad about rarely doing a lesson of Right Start with him…but he seems to be learning plenty of math whether I do the lessons with him or not.

3:  Miss M, hard at work in her spelling workbook (we are using “How to Spell” book two and “How to Teach Spelling”….sort of.  I am not sure I am quite using it as designed).  The desk is a new addition to the play/school room.  Miss M seems to like it as a new spot to work, especially if she is allowed to stand at the desk and work without a chair!

4:  Miss M loves horses and loves to draw pictures of them.  Aren’t they great for a 2nd grader? I think she can probably draw a horse better than I can!   Miss M found several horse books at the library this week.  She is reading them for fun, but some of this reading I’m sure will benefit her “Expert Day” project at co-op later this spring.  (Expert Day is sort of like a science fair, but the projects can be on any topic.)  She declared months ago that her topic would be horses!

5. The boys totally love Legos.  This was what they were doing several days this week while Miss M and I did school.  Daddy discovered a bunch of his childhood Legos during a recent basement clean-out project, and those Legos joined our recently-organized collection on Sunday afternoon.

6.  Baby J and Mr. K checking out the “bus” at the Children’s Museum.  The kids and I went to the museum for most of the day on Saturday while Tony cleaned the basement.  I could make a whole collage just of pictures of our visit — we had so much fun!  The kids all particularly enjoyed the “Storyland” exhibit that creates play spaces based on several favorite children’s books including “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”, “Peter Rabbit”, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “The Snowy Day.”

7. This nearly empty room means…Miss M is about to get her very own room.  As soon as we gave her the news this past summer that her new sibling would be a brother, we tried to soften the news by telling her she would eventually get her own room (she currently shares with the two bigger boys).  While we originally thought it would not happen until Baby J was old enough to move in with his brothers and out of Mommy and Daddy’s room, we decided it was time to move her sooner rather than later.  Our old office room is getting cleared out and items moved elsewhere in the house (hence the new desk in the school room), and “moving day” is scheduled for tomorrow!

8. Mr. E says HE wants a handwriting book with Bible verses in it like Miss M’s book (She is learning cursive with A Reason for Handwriting Book C).  I told him I would order Book A for him, but I had a challenge for him first: write out all the letters in the alphabet, upper and lower case.  I don’t think he actually knows how to write all the letters yet, but I wanted to see what letters he needs more work on.  He got about half way through the upper-case alphabet on Thursday, and wasn’t too interested in writing today.  The challenge will continue into next week.  Mr. K got right up at the table next to him and declared that he was writing letters too.   I bet his random lines will start looking like real letters pretty soon. 🙂

I’m linking up with…

Collage Friday @ HomeGrownLearners

The Weekly Wrap Up @ Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers