Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try Suite for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase

Common Sense Media says

Time-tested system transfers well to app, "sponge" included.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

The three-step system (wet-dry-try) for tracing keeps practice easy and consistent for each letter and number. The three-star levels increase difficulty by limiting clues and requiring more accurate tracing. The order of letters kids practice can either be organized by "HWT Order," which includes groups with  similar starting points and stroke sequences, or by alphabetical order.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Icons on the app's main screen link to the Handwriting Without Tears-related +Live Insight user-scoring and -reporting system, which is only fully accessible with in-app purchases ($3.99 for a single student, $7.99 for two students, $11.99 for three students). A maximum of three students can have user accounts on one app.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

When opening the app for the first time, parents or teachers are prompted to provide an email address to get weekly student progress reports. The HWT privacy policy is posted on its website, but it's not clear whether the policy also applies to the mobile app.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try Suite for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase is the app-based version of the popular, longstanding beginning-handwriting program of the same name. The three-step system of tracing uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers on a virtual chalkboard with a "wet" sponge and a "dry" towel and then writing them with chalk keeps practice easy and consistent. An audio coach gives instructions while step-by-step visual examples appear. After kids complete a letter or a number three times, they earn a colorful letter card that's displayed on-screen. A progress page shows parents the letters kids have completed, as well as the errors they've made in four categories.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • letter or word recognition
  • writing

Skills

Self-Direction

  • effort
  • personal growth

Emotional Development

  • persevering

Health & Fitness

  • fine motor skills

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Building upon the time-tested design of the Handwriting Without Tears system, this well-designed app keeps kids engaged in learning to create letters with minimal frustration.

Learning Approach

For kids to master each letter, this app groups letters into "HWT Order" and gives detailed instructions, verbally and visually. Kids trace each letter three times, every turn requiring more accuracy and providing less prompting.

Support

Support is potentially the most valuable feature on this app, offering excellent verbal and audio instructions, tutorials, Web-based videos, and the option of detailed reports for up to three kids (in-app purchase required).

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • letter or word recognition
  • writing

Skills

Self-Direction

  • effort
  • personal growth

Emotional Development

  • persevering

Health & Fitness

  • fine motor skills

Kids can learn how to form uppercase and lowercase letters as well as numbers using Handwriting Without Tears. Through using HWT's skillful letter groups -- organized by similar starting points and lines -- kids learn to recognize similarities in letter creation and focus on one new skill at a time. Kids also practice following verbal and visual directions as they put forth effort to master proper letter formation. As they develop fine motor skills, the tracing repetition gently promotes the emotional skill of perseverance. Kids get systematic tracing practice while learning letter and number formation on this well-organized app.

This Learning Rating review was written by Dana Villamagna

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What's it about?

First, parents can enter an email address to receive weekly updates from HANDWRITING WITHOUT TEARS: WET-DRY-TRY SUITE FOR CAPITALS, NUMBERS & LOWERCASE and then create a user account. Choose Capitals, Numbers, or Lowercase mode. Kids watch and listen to the coach complete the letter or number step by step, and then they erase it with a sponge, dry it with a towel, and try to trace it with chalk. They repeat this two more times with increasing difficulty to earn a colorful letter card. Kids get organized, proven, tracing practice with good progress tracking.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Without a doubt, the Handwriting Without Tears system has helped many kids learn to write letters and numbers during the past 30 years of its existence, and this digital version is likely to do the same. Letters appear within HWT-created groups that make sense and minimize frustration. The visual demonstrations and verbal instructions provided by the pleasant-voiced writing coach are crystal-clear, and the colorful letter cards give kids just enough reward without being distracting. Lowercase letters, including double lines kids must stay within on the board, are more difficult than uppercase letters or numbers.

The Handwriting Without Tears' progress-report system is easy to read, although if parents want more detailed reports or to track more than one kid, they have to make in-app purchases on top of the $6.99 app-purchase price. There are other very good, less expensive tracing and early handwriting apps available. Still, for kids who need a very consistent handwriting system and for parents who want lots of support and progress information, Handwriting Without Tears is worth the price.

Families can talk about...

  • Use the settings to customize tracing practice to your kid's current level.

  • Try the same skills via a real, hand-held chalkboard, a sponge, a towel, and chalk, while using some of the verbal cues kids hear on the app (for example, "frog jump" to start back at the beginning spot and "helicopter" to use an upstroke).

App details

Device:iPad
Price:$6.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Release date:September 27, 2013
Category:Education
Size:57.30 MB
Publisher:Handwriting Without Tears & Get Set for School
Version:1.11
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.3 or later

This review of Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try Suite for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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