Activity: Copying

Copying is one activity that takes an individual from childhood through adulthood. Many young children will use copywork to practice their handwriting skills. Many adults will keep a copybook or other notebook to store valued quotations and words of inspiration. The activity of copying is a great learning tool!

Copying and dictating are the two basic lesson activities in the natural method.  Just as the child learned to speak by copying your correct speech, so he learns to write by copying fine writing.

Ruth Beechick, A Strong Start in Language

Here are several ideas for making use of the valuable activity of copying.  (You’ll find helpful resources below.)

Practice Handwriting

Once your child is easily tracing, he can move a step up and copy a letter, word, or phrase as he continues to practice his handwriting. Practicing handwriting doesn’t have to become a mindless activity! 

Choose skill-appropriate, interesting, and informing words, phrases, and sentences.  You can use the tracing ideas and simply replace the activity of tracing with copying.

Practice Cursive

Of course, after your child has become proficient with writing in manuscript, he basically starts the process of tracing/copying over in cursive. At this point, choose familiar, inspirational, or well-loved sentences and paragraphs to copy.


Copy to memorize. We always had our children copy, one verse each day, the Scripture passage they were memorizing. Copying has a way of bringing words through the mind and out of the fingers, committing them to memory.

Memorizing: Yes, It Does Have Its Uses! ~ 5 Things to Memorize
Love it or hate it memorizing does have its uses. 5 things to memorize.

Practice Spelling

Copy to practice spelling. The more we come into contact with a word, the better we get to know it — its meaning, use, and spelling. The more frequently we see a word spelled correctly, the more likely we are to spell the word correctly when we use it. 

Copying words — and copying allows us to see the correct spelling — improves our spelling. (This simple principle is also true for punctuation, grammar, and usage.) You see why it is important to choose copy passages carefully!

10 Steps to Build a Better Speller
Ideas for copying in this way.


Copy to write.  Good writers copy.

Jack London tells how he taught himself to write his famous adventure stories. Even if they had summer writing conferences in his day, he could not have afforded to go to one. But he stumbled onto the natural method, which obviously helped his career more than a conference would have anyway.London spent days upon days in the San Francisco Public Library hand copying good literature that the librarian recommended to him.

Ruth Beechick, A Strong Start in Language

Copying is one of the four levels of creativity in writing.


Copy to save. A copybook can take the form of anything from a simple composition notebook to a 3-ring binder full of copy paper to an elaborate journal. 

Ask your student to copy something every day each year. You will have started him on a life-long habit of copying.

Additional Resources
Language Arts the Natural Way: Copying

Language Arts the Natural Way: Copying
And yet more tips.

Make Your Own ABC Book
Incorporating copywork, with instructions and resources.

A Copybook of Love {Freebie}
Passage of 1 John already prepared for you.

Handwriting Worksheet Creator {Free}
Using your choice of manuscript, D’Nealian and cursive, you can make your own copywork sheets by entering your own passages.

Excellent Language Arts eBook {Free!}
Illustrates the principle of using copywork to learn spelling.

Required Poems for Reading and Memorizing {Free eBook}
For those who need help selecting good passages to copy.

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #2 Copybook
Ideas, notebooking helps and other resources.

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