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Would you like a handy list of copywork selections to use throughout the school year? I have created multiple copy work PDFs available in a free download. See my complete list below, and then keep reading for the benefits of copywork and how to make the most of it in your homeschool.
My Free Copywok Downloads
I have created several copywork downloads for print or cursive use. They are usually created based on something we have done at home, and shared with my readers. Enjoy!
The Benefits of Copywork
Copywork has been used for centuries in different methods of education, but it became popular under this term thanks to the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling. In Charlote Mason’s works on education, she writes extensively about what copywork is and how to make the most of it. It is my belief and personal experience that copywork helps a student to become a better writer (and reader). When you copy good writing, you train your mind to see and use quality vocabulary, correct spelling, and proper sentence structure. It is an excellent way to improve the natural flow of reading and writing by using already-existing material.
I have found copywork to be so effective that I stopped using spelling curriculum altogether. Instead, I focus on learning to read with phonics, and beginning copywork very young. This way, students see and use words with their proper spelling.
We do use grammar and writing curriculum in our homeschool, but not until the middle school years and up. Before formal instruction, copying complete sentences is the best and most gentle teacher.
The physical act of writing makes copywork a natural way to improve print and cursive neatness. Wherever your child is in their handwriting journey, let them perfect the process with their copywork. When children are ready to learn to type, copywork makes great typing lessons (instead of mindless words and phrases in a typing lesson).
New and interesting vocabulary words are introduced to children when they copy from famous quotes, short passages from classic literature, Bible verses, and hymns. Not only will children see and write words that may be unfamiliar, but they have the perfect opportunity to use their dictionary skills!
Everything I have mentioned so far can be achieved through one simple copywork exercise: rich vocabulary, beautiful handwriting, fine motor skills, writing skills, Bible memorization, spelling, proper letter formation, and so much more. Starting with just one sentence per day for younger students, it’s easy and very effective. And most of the time, it’s free or very inexpensive.
In our home, we no longer use spelling curriculum (read this blog post to find out why), and we only start formal grammar and writing curriculum around age 10-12 (we like Fix-It Grammar and Structure and Style for Students, both from Institute for Excellence in Writing). Not forcing multiple school subjects on young children is a huge blessing for a busy mom, and you will find that delaying certain subjects does not delay your child’s learning. So many of the concepts we teach can be learned in a very short time, contrary to the current methods used in public school. Read my popular blog post: It Does Not Take 12 Years to Educate a Child to learn more.
So just picture using one method to cover so many language arts topics in a short amount of time, instead of buying multiple workbooks or textbooks, and spending hours per day. This is beneficial from the elementary years up through high school.
How to Use Copywork in your Homeschool
The first thing I do is to give my students a spiral notebook specifically for this purpose. While some curriculum or even free downloads come with copywork sheets, I find it easier to keep it all in one place. It’s a wonderful way for you and your child to see their progress, and for older students to collect a book of favorite passages.
Determine the amount of work your child is ready for. I typically start my children with copywork once they are able to write all of their letters comfortably. The age for this may vary. I have begun with sentences from their phonics book to help reinforce the new words they are reading. Sometimes I let them make up a short sentence on their own with one new word from the phonics sound they learned, or we would make up a fun rhyme to write down. You can also break up a paragraph from their favorite story into one sentence per day. The next day, have the child review what they copied from yesterday and then begin a new sentence. This reinforces reading practice!
For older children, simply increase the amount of copying they do each day in relation to their attention span and ability. This makes copywork so flexible, and is not based on age or grade level. A short passage from a favorite book or from a science or history text doubles as content review.
Encourage your students to see beauty in words everywhere, and to think of their copywork notebook as something more than school. Help them to be creative in choosing their own copywork. They might prefer poetry, song lyrics, or their own chosen verses from scripture. When I was a teen, I copied my favorite quotes from books into a journal (long before I had heard the term copywork). If your children are avid readers or advanced students, you will likely have to do very little prodding. But if you have students who struggle with any of the language arts, I think you’ll find that copywork is such a gentle method that addresses all aspects of English in a stress-free manner.
What to Copy
Besides free copywork pages in this post and on the web, look at everything you use in your home and homeschool as a potential resource. We have used speeches from famous historical figures and from literature, technical paragraphs from a science book, historical records like the Anglo Saxon Chronicle, and lines from The Hobbit. This gives your students exposure to many subject areas and writing style variations. They will encounter words that are new to them or even archaic.
One of my high school students likes to use his Bible memory work as copywork. This is a wonderful way to practice seeing and saying the memory work repeatedly, and to practice beautiful penmanship, or even typing speed.
When choosing copywor sources, the world is indeed your oyster!
More Copywork Resources
There are many, many wonderful free resources on the web including Practical Pages, Free Homeschool Deals, Cynce’s Place, and more. One of the best things about copywork is that it is a very frugal means of providing a quality education. Using just a spiral notebook, a pencil, and your library, you can provide your students with a wealth of sources.
If you prefer a print option (a complete book with copywork and blank line pages all in one place), consider purchasing one of these:
Patriotic Penmanship is available in multiple levels.
|Patriotic Penmanship Grade 5
By Mary Ellen Tedrow / Laurelwood Books
Make handwriting practice meaningful and useful with Patriotic Penmanship! One lesson per week provides a full quote or Scripture verse to read (from which a sentence or portion is used for the remainder of the lesson), and includes tracing and writing individual letters, key words, word pairs, and finally the full quote. Quotes come from Scripture and classic readers as well as from a variety of sources that include Charles Wesley, Pope John Paul II, Napoleon Bonaparte, Malcolm Thomas Muggeridge, and others. This Grade 5 book teaches handwriting using cursive handwriting. 62 pages, 30 Lessons. Consumable and non-reproducible. Softcover.
A Child’s Garden of Verses Copywork
|Child’s Garden of Verses Copywork Notebook Grades K-3 (Printed Edition)
By Cyndi Kinney & Pamela Sutton / Knowledge Box Central
Your children will cherish the classical poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson and enjoy the timeless Victorian era graphics with these engaging copywork lessons.
Copywork Notebooks are designed to help your children to learn spelling, punctuation, sentence structure, and vocabulary while copying from historical information. The idea is that your student will actually begin to imitate the elements in his or own writing. This particular Copywork Notebook walks your student through daily bite-sized portions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses.”
Grades K-3. Printed Edition.
Draw and Write Through History (our favorite!). While this is mostly a drawing curriculum (and a great one!), it includes copywork pages that coincide with the history topics. There are multiple volumes available, spanning creation to the 20th century.
|Draw and Write Through History Book 3: The Vikings, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance
By Carylee Gressman / CPR Publishing
Draw and write your way through the history of the Vikings, Middle Ages and Renaissance, as you learn about castles, Robin Hood, Pagodas, longhouses, a musketeer and more. Drawings are shown with step by step illustrations, and copywork is written out in cursive. Great for supplementing any history program! Ages 8-12. 64 pages, softcover.
Cursive Passages and Illuminations: American Documents This is from Classical Conversations, but can be used in your home on your schedule. Perfect for a high school student studying American history or government.
|PreScripts Cursive Passages and Illuminations: American Documents
By Classical Conversations
The Prescripts series from Classical Conversations is a pre-writing handwriting copywork course for children that refines cursive handwriting skills through copying–while integrating rich, history-based content.
Prescripts: Cursive Letters and Illuminations American Documents features illuminated letters as the primary art element. On one page, students copy meaningful quotes from American primary documents including the Mayflower Compact and JFK’s Inaugural Address; the facing page features an illuminated letter with room for students to create their own below. 146 pages, softcover. Pages can be reproduced in-family; reproducible consumable workbook. Grades: Early Elementary students who are beginning to learn cursive. KJV and NIV Scripture used. At one page per year, there are enough pages for a complete school year (4-5 pages/week). This book corresponds to Foundations Cycle 3 and Challenge I.
|Simply Classical Copybook 1 (Manuscript)
By Cheryl Swope / Memoria Press
This copybook is part of the Memoria Press “Simply Classical” series for special-needs students.
Copywork is a Classical tradition in which students copy Scripture and other selections. As they progress through Simply Classical Copybook I, students will strengthen penmanship, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, and memory skills while working on habits of accuracy, neatness, and patience. Students begin by tracing and writing individual upper-case letters (beginning with letters that just have straight lines), then move on to lower-case letters, and finally to short Bible verses and the days/months. In this edition, shorter verses help accommodate for any writing difficulties while providing the full benefits of copybook and memory work. For ages 5-8 (chronological age or skill level). KJV Scripture used. 80 pages, softcover. Consumable workbook (non-reproducible pages).
Themed copywork books from Queen Homeschool: These have sweet illustrations and numerous great quotes from history, literature, scripture, and more!
For teaching cursive, I love this one:
|A Reason For Handwriting: Cursive C–Student Worktext, Grade 3
By Carol Ann Retzer / A Reason For
The “Cursive C” workbook introduces current cursive writing; lessons 1-5 introduce the vowels and lessons 6-26 cover the remaining letters in alphabetical order. Lessons review both upper and lower-case cursive letters and provide opportunities to practice individual words and sentences during the rest of the year. Correct alignment, slant, size, shape and spacing are emphasized. Practice sheets provide room to trace letters before writing them individually.
Scripture verses are taken from The Living Bible. 176 pages, softcover. Consumable and non-reproducible.
I cannot say enough wonderful things about the ease and benefits of copywork. This is such a simple and effective manner of teaching, reviewing, and perfecting all of the language arts. Pulling words, sentences, and paragraphs from everyday life, historical facts, famous world leaders, Dr. Seuss, and even foreign language curriculum for print and cursive copywork is so simple and profound. Slow and steady improvements will make your children better readers and writers, instead of stressed out little school pupils.
This is one of the reasons I say that Anyone Can Homeschool, because homeschoolers have this fun little secret: more is not necessarily better. More money, more time at a desk, more hours in school. . . homeschoolers can educate their children at home with a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time.