Sunday, February 24, 2013

Handwriting Without Tears {Review}

Handwriting Without Tears is an award winning, world-renowned program created by Jan Olsen in 1977, while her son was struggling with first grade handwriting skills.  This easy-to-use, developmental elementary program has brought success in handwriting to millions of children for over 30 years now.  Every day children continue to overcome their handwriting fears thanks to this wonderful program.

Recently, Handwriting Without Tears has advanced their exceptional program to include a digital app called Wet Dry Try for Android and iPad.  Wet Dry Try includes handwriting skills for both capital letters and numbers.  It is a multi-sensory, interactive tool used to encourage better handwriting skills in young children, just like the original Handwriting Without Tears program.  This app encourages correct formation and orientation habits.

Wet Dry Try was created to appeal to many different learning and educational styles.  The app is in a game format that gives just the right amount of writing practice while still keeping the program fun.  Children work on one letter at a time, mastering the letter formation of that letter before moving ahead to a new letter.  Working in this way prevents and eliminates writing reversals commonly seen in handwriting.  A wooden frame, like an old fashioned slate and an imprint of a smiley face in the upper left corner of the frame help children learn orientation and correct formation.

From the Home screen, children can log in by choosing their name after inputting the correct information.  They can then choose between two games to learn their capital letters and numbers.  They can play Pick and Practice which will allow them to practice writing in any order or they can choose to play Winning Order to play using Handwriting Without Tear's developmental teaching order.

As children work through this app, they earn a star for each level they pass correctly.  With each star, the level's difficulty increases.  Once three stars are earned for the letter, the child then receives a letter card.

We used this app with our iPad generation 1.  It worked fine for us with a few mild issues.  We were not able to get our names registered in the program (app itself) and it had the occasional glitch that kicked us out of the program while using it.  I attribute the last issue to our iPad being full and needing to be cleared of excess apps that we are not using.

The Wet Dry Try app itself is a LOT of fun.  I personally played it when my children weren't looking.  My two older children also gave it a whirl and will continue to use it as an additive for handwriting around the house.  But for this review purposes, my four year old was the reviewer of this product.

Laycie is four, turning five in April.  Developmentally, she is about 3-6 months delayed due to health issues with her Epilepsy.  Handwriting is a skill that we are just beginning to get into with her.

Laycie found this app to be fun on the first star level but slightly frustrating, especially on the second and third star levels.  She enjoyed receiving the stars as she worked through the program.  She found the Handwriting Without Tears Winning Order portion to be overwhelming though, as she isn't ready for that much structure in handwriting at this time.  She enjoyed using  Pick and Practice, choosing the letters she wanted to give a try.  She became frustrated by having to stay on the "line" as she worked through different letters and of course, preferred the easier letters to the harder ones.  She was encouraged to keep using this app and asks daily to work on her letters.

As Mom and Teacher, I found this app to frustrate Laycie but I think with practice it will be extremely useful.  I felt she had a hard time staying on the letter line but also know that comes with practice.  I found the slate drawing and continued repeating of the letters to be helpful for Laycie and I can see how that will encourage her to perform better as she learns to write.  I will be using more of the Winning Order game with her as her skills further develop over the next year.  I will also continue to use the app with my older children to encourage better writing, but on a "fun" practice basis.

I believe this app would be perfect for children who have a little more practice with handwriting than Laycie has at this time.  It would also be perfect for use with occupational therapies, challenging children to follow the lines, and stay on the path, encouraging development in those necessary skills.  I also recommend this app to educators looking for more structure in handwriting to help build skills.

Handwriting Without Tears award winning program can be purchased online through their website.  The Wet Dry Try app can also be purchased, either on Android or iPad.  The iPad app is currently listed at $4.99 and is available in the App Store.

For more reviews of this product, please visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!

Disclaimer - I received this app free for review from Handwriting Without Tears and the TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest opinion of the product shared in a blog post on my blog.  I was not given money in exchange for this review.  I am including this disclaimer in accordance of FTC guidelines.

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