Copywork is a key component of the Charlotte Mason Method, but it is also enjoyed by many homeschoolers who do not use her method exclusively. You can create copywork that is connected to the themes you write about or you can create it based on Scripture, classical literature, etc. The first thing you need to know about creating copywork is there are three popular styles of handwriting you will commonly encounter: print, cursive, and manuscript (sometimes also referred to as D’Nealian manuscript). You will see many font programs that offer one or two, but fewer that offer all three. You will also find that some programs offer a dotted font without lines and also with lines. If you are going to use your materials commercially, you need to be sure you have the appropriate license to use the font for that purpose. There are several websites where you can find inexpensive handwriting fonts, including TeachersPayTeachers.com, Fontspace.com, and dafont.com. The handwriting font I use was purchased from Fonts4Teachers at TeachersPayTeachers.com.
Next, you need your content. Obviously, if you have something related to your published works, that is a key place to start. Other popular topics are holidays, famous people, famous quotes, and Scripture passages. Always keep in mind copyright issues when choosing your material. Of course, if you create your own content, that isn’t a problem, but be extremely careful the original work you use for copywork does not contain any grammatical or spelling errors.
When you find a passage or quote you would like to use, be sure to verify its accuracy in at least one other place before proceeding. Also, if there are any words spelled differently in your quote than what are commonly used today, you will need to decide whether to note the different spelling or change it to the current style. Whichever you choose, be sure to include a note to parents in the printable explaining that you have done so.
Once you have chosen your quote or passage and installed your fonts, it’s time to get busy. It’s possible to create copywork printables in various programs. I typically use Microsoft® Publisher because I like the layout options it offers. You can also create copywork in Microsoft® Word or many other programs.
For this example, I’ll make a copywork printable from Isaiah chapter 9. This is a beautifully written classic text, in the public domain, which fits nicely with virtually any Christmas unit homeschoolers are doing with their families.
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined . . . for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:2, 6 KJV
I’m going to create a printable that has print, cursive, and manuscript handwriting examples to trace, as well as to copy. Please note that these instructions are given based on the Fonts4Teachers program. The steps will be similar with other font programs, but the exact keystrokes will be different.
Start by creating a new document/file and pasting your text into it. Highlight the text and change it to ABC Print Dotted Lined. I set my size to 26, but you can adjust that to fit your style and the age of the students you are targeting. With the text still highlighted, search for all spaces and replace each with a /. This will fill in the broken lines you see when you convert from regular fonts.
The next step is reformatting. You’ll notice the line breaks are generally in the wrong place and the text may run off the bottom of the page.
Add blank lines (using a series of /////) to take each line to the margin. When you are done, your right edge will be ragged and look something like this:
An easy fix of the ragged right edge that I learned from the vendor of Fonts4Teachers was to insert a narrow white box along the edge of each page and position it so that it cuts off the tail end of your ragged lines but not your text. You can do this in a number of ways. I insert the shape, draw it the size I want it, set the “wrap text” option to none, shape fill with white, and set the shape outline to white. When you proofread your finished work, be sure to watch closely for words, letters, or punctuation that may have been inadvertently hidden underneath the white box. Commas and periods have a terrible habit of trying to hide there! When you are finished, your page should look something like this:
When I create a copywriting pack, I generally include both the dotted-line version and the regular lined version of print, cursive, and manuscript lettering so that it will serve the most people. Creating each of the other versions is exactly the same, though you may need to adjust the font size. Be sure to remember to include blank lines (the same font size as your lined text) to copy the passage onto. Take a look at the finished sample of lined copywork below:
When you create lined copywork with blank lines, be sure to include at least as many blank lines as the printed text covers. I generally try to include a minimum of one or two additional blank lines.
So how can you connect copywork to the projects you are working on? Do you write about horses? Start with a poem about horses. Do you write about life in colonial times? Find an historic passage you can turn into copywork (be sure to make a note on your printable if you modernize the spelling). What Bible verses are tied to your writing or your story? Try making those into copywork.
Let us hear from you. Have you created copywork? What tips and tricks have you found useful? We’ll discuss how to create other Charlotte Mason-based resources next month.
Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.