School Zone – Train Your Hand Series

Summary: They’re lightweight and overpriced. And I don’t care, because they’re gorgeous and bright and fun

USD $2.99 each ($11.97 for the set of 4) from Amazon (Affiliate Links – Dots, Spots and Stripes – Lines – Numbers – Alphabet)
USD $2.50 each ($10.00 for the set of 4) from Rainbow Resources
Currently Unavailable from Book Depository
There does not appear to be any local Australian suppliers

School Zone… that’s one of those brands homeschoolers dismiss as being the cheapo review books in the newsagents, that certain families pick up, do a couple pages of each day, and claim they’re ‘homeschooling’ (I think we’ve all run across the type at least once if we’ve been homeschooling for any length of time). Most of us would never even consider them when curriculum searching. But, this series, along with the Bubbles series, ended up in the house when I was after something more motor skills involved to use with Ladybug when I was too ill in pregnancy to do usual free activities. They were too easy for her at the time, but are spot on for 2.5 year old Buttons to do ‘handwriting’ just like her sister.

Train Your Hand is tracing taken to a new level. Now, it’s worth noting that some people would make the claim this is bad for writing, citing concerns about the child drawing letters instead of writing them. I’m not concerned about this personally, I think one will probably transition into the other well enough, as long as they’re writing, not drawing, by the time they get to words.

This is also available as an app game! It’s rather fun in that format, though, since you’re tracing with your finger, I don’t know how much handwriting-readiness is actually happening here 🙂

As you can see in the samples above, each book has a theme, starting at spots and stripes free-hand, to tracing, to letter formation within a picture. One of the things I love about this series is that it is tracing/drawing within a boundary, as opposed to tracing on a line. This means the littlest ones can have a wobbly hand, but still be within the lines. We have had much trouble with my perfectionist girls getting upset over their wobbly lines, so this was a big plus for us.

First thing to note, each book is only 16 pages. They don’t last long. We’re using them a couple of pages a week to make them last the year, just as a fun little extra, but an older child left to play would devour the book in one sitting. At $2 to $3 a piece, depending on where you buy it, that gets to be a bit of a pricey one-day activity. But I do think it is a worthwhile little addition to a pre-school curriculum. They’re perfect for 2-3 year olds not quite ready for Kumon, and I will be buying them again for Rabbit without hesitation as a fun table-time supplement.

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