My nine almost ten year old is using the American History Prescripts book this year.
Each week, she will copy a history sentence twice and then complete an art lesson/ drawing activity to illustrate and go along with that sentence.
This first week of Classical Conversations, she copied a sentence about Columbus and completed a drawing of a sailing vessel at sea.
This book is a good fit for my particular daughter for three, particular reasons:
- She is enrolled in Classical Conversations
- She already knows how to write in cursive and
- She likes to draw
The history sentences in this book are the same history sentences my daughter is learning and memorizing through Classical Conversations each week. If she were not a part of a Classical Conversations group, the sentences might not be meaningful to her and they probably would not be timed with what we were doing in history, so I probably would not choose to use this book if we were not a part of Classical Conversations. I would just find another source for copy work ideas.
My daughter has already completed Zanier Bloser Handwriting workbooks K, 1, 2, and is almost done with workbook 3, so she knows how to write in cursive well enough and does not need much instruction, review, or practice in forming each letter and then putting those letters together to make words. This book provides only one page of review for cursive letters a-z, so it is a more advanced book and kids really should have a firm grasp on forming their cursive letters and making words before using this book.
My daughter also loves to draw and is very confident when given a pencil, pen, paper, paints, etc. She can copy and even customize just about any image. When she chose peregrine falcons for her presentation this week, she was able to draw a peregrine falcon from a image I found on the computer. That is something she does with regularity and enthusiasm. If she were not that confident of an artist, I might hesitate to give her this book because the drawings students are asked to reproduce are complicated.
There is a good reason for this. The drawings in the book are based on real artwork done by real artists. For instance, a drawing lesson on Point of View that my daughter will do in two weeks shows Native Americans watching colonists build a fort from where they are standing in the woods.
Apparently, this drawing is based on a real piece of artwork by Sidney E. King. I did a quick search on Google and I found a painting that is almost identical to the drawing.
I like this because it follows the classical model: teach kids how to draw by letting them model great drawings. Don’t expect them to just know how to make a good piece of artwork innately. Teach kids to write by letting them model great pieces of writing. Don’t expect small children to be capable of writing amazing stories innately.
But if my daughter were less confident and more apt to stress because she could not reproduce the drawings in this book, I might choose something else or tell her to skip the drawing exercises all together. I sit next to her and tutor her at elbow for many, many subjects that often stress her out like math and spelling and writing, etc. so drawing is not another subject I, personally, would want to have to sit and walk her through step by step. I like the fact that this copy work book provides her with meaningful, yet independent practice. But if my daughter couldn’t do this book independently, I am not sure it would be worth the trouble of adding it to our home school day.
That said, as it is, it is a perfect fit for my daughter, so this book is a blessing to us. It provides some review of the history sentences we want to memorize, it provides practice in cursive handwriting, and it models lessons in drawing from real works of art- all good things that work for us.