Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Review of Handwriting without Tears iPad App

 Handwriting without Tears Logo

Handwriting Without Tears is one of the biggest names in handwriting curriculum, not only for homeschoolers, but for all schoolers worldwide. Offering a full range of handwriting products for Kindergarten through 5th grade, Handwriting Without Tears takes the pain out of handwriting for parent/teacher and student alike.  In fact, if you homeschool, it is likely that if you have not tried Handwriting Without Tears (HWT) yourself, you have probably had it recommended to you.

What you may not know, though, is that HWT has joined the world of Apps! If your child is anything like mine, he will be intrigued by the Wet-Dry-Try App! Available for download from the App Store for $4.99, the Wet-Dry-Try App is everything that is wonderful about Handwriting Without Tears, but it is completely and totally portable.  Also, because it is something your child does on the iPad, it won't feel like schoolwork at all, which is ironic, because using the HWT App looks and feels exactly like using the regular Handwriting Without Tears program!

HWOT Wet/Dry App Title page

There are two approaches you can choose when using the app.  You can either practice the capital letters (the only letters available in the app) in any order you choose, or you can practice them in "HWT's Winning Order." For those unfamiliar with HWT's program, that order consists of the following: Frog Jump Capitals (F,E,D,P,B,R,N, and M), Starting Corner Capitals (H,K,L,U,V,W,X,Y,Z), and Center Starting Capitals (C,O,Q,G,S,A,I,T, and J).

The student (and with the purchase of the app, you have the opportunity to create separate logins for up to four students) has the opportunity of mastering the letter with either 1,2, or 3 stars, and in this mode, the letters are locked until the user has achieved at least one star (although these options can be customized by the parent, as seen below).

The process for practicing each of the letters, regardless of which mode you choose to follow, is the same.  First, the speaker tells the child to watch as she writes the letter.  Then she describes the process as she writes it.  She then instructs the child to trace over her chalk letter with a sponge.

After that, she has the child dry the letter with a towel.  If at any point, he deviates from acceptable limits in tracing, she says, "Whoa! Try that again!" and has him try again from the beginning of that particular screen (sponge, towel, etc.).

 Finally, the child gets to trace over the dry letter with a piece of chalk.

Here is what my son's progress looked like after "playing around" with Wet-Dry-Try App for about 20 minutes.

 The Wet-Dry-Try App is age-appropriate for Pre-K and K, but is considered appropriate for remediation with older children.  My son is 8, but has never had great handwriting.  His pencil grip has always been off, but I can't figure out how to correct it.  I have always wondered if that is because my husband and I are both lefties, but all of our children are right-handed.  We just don't know how to help them with things like pencil holding!

Because Michael has trouble with things like proper letter formation, I was anxious to go back to the beginning.  He reads and comprehends well above grade level, but he hates to write and requests to do most things on the computer.  To that end, I thought this app would be a great fit for him.  I was right...partly.  It turns out that you can't fool an eight year-old into thinking that handwriting practice for five year-olds is tailor made for him.  Still, that is not the fault of the app, and Michael did work completely through the app (progressing all the way through three stars (no visual cues on the letter formation and zero tolerance for deviation from the formation) and all letters).

He worked with the app for about 20 minutes a day each day, four days a week.  For about two weeks, he didn't mind, but then he started to complain.  Because he tended to be sloppy, it took him longer to get through some letters than it probably would a conscientious Kindergartner.  My daughter (now 11) would have LOVED this app when she was learning to write at 3.  It would have made her desire to write so much easier for her not-quite-coordinated fine muscles to carry out. It is just that my son's problems have more to do with lack of patience and impulsivity than with anything else.  Still, I loved the opportunity to have him go through and have proper letter formation emphasized over and over.  What I really, really, wish this app had, though, is LOWERCASE letters! Those formations are the ones that really seem to trip Michael up!

Although the Wet-Dry-Try App was not ideal for my son, he is not really the target market for it. He did benefit from it (whether he would admit it or not), and I would not hesitate to buy this app for my Pre-K or K child if I had one.  In fact, I just might buy it as a gift for my 3 1/2 year-old niece.  I trust the Handwriting Without Tears brand, and this app is 100% worthy of their name.

The Wet-Dry-Try App is available in the App Store for $4.99, and it is worth every penny.  Of course, HWT still sells all of its standard handwriting curriculum!

There were plenty of younger kids of the Crew who tried this app and other HWT products, so be sure to click on the banner below to read their reviews!

Disclaimer: I received this app free as part of my participation with the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my opinion, which is my own and was not purchased.  I received no other compensation, and I am disclosing this is accordance with FTC regulations.