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

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try Suite for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase App Poster Image
Time-tested system transfers well to app, "sponge" included.

Parents say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

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.

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.

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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.

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What 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.

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Adult Written byjdiaz19 October 8, 2015

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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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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