Handwriting Without Tears® is a handwriting program used by therapists and teachers providing a multisensory approach to learning letter formation for preschool and elementary aged students. The complete program components include many hands on tools making it a concrete, perceptual and developmental approach to learning to construct and learn letter formation and the alphabet.
Use of the HWT wooden letter pieces to build letters and physically understand directionality of strokes of letters as well as the Wet Dry Try method of learning letter formation on a chalkboard were favorites of mine and students. The tools provided a hands on approach to constructing letters, repetition and structured sequence to for acquisition.
The Wet Dry Try Suite App for iPad (6.99), reconfigured from its earlier debut, now provides numbers, upper and lower case practice to the iPad to supplement use of the Handwriting Without Tears® curriculum.
The Wet Dry Try Suite App provides upper case practice like the original method of using the slate. Video demonstration with verbal instructions on where to start the letter and formation is provided to the student for the sequence of each letter. Three trials are provided for each letter or number with reduced supports allowing the student to acquire independence with production.
The following description of the reducing level of supports are provided within the app tutorial:
Examples of lower case and number formation from app screens:
I found the app to provide the repetition, visual and auditory instruction to be great. Verbal feedback and automatic restart is provided when student move off the chalk or erase pathway. The accuracy required is quite demanding and may be frustrating for some students whose visual motor or motor coordination may be challenged. No options are available to change the accuracy required. Practice using a real live slate may be necessary to gain accuracy prior to consideration in using the app to reduce frustration.
The app for 6.99 allows use for just one student. In-app purchasing is required if enrolling more than one student, which can get somewhat expensive (3.99 for extra single student up to three for 11.99. See pricing on iTunes or at HWT ). A strong component of the app is not only its multisensory method of instruction, but for the teacher or therapist is the assessment tool provided within the app making this not only an intervention but also, progress monitoring and assessment tool. The following image shows the progress of my trial. The buttons at the bottom of the screen allow views of the lower case and number progress.
In the Wet Dry Try app only ABC Order is provided. the HWT Order button shows only a trial of one letter with all other letters or numbers locked. I believe this is only offered when signing up with the Get Set for School Curriculum offered by HWT. A Live Insights app is also provided for report review.
Handwriting Without Tears® and elementary students. Certainly there is nothing like practicing handwriting for the tactile and kinesthetic feedback using slates, paper and different types of writing tools (chalk, pencils, crayons, etc.), however apps can also provide motivation, reinforcement of skills or ease of access to students. Positioning of the iPad and use of styluses to promote a more mature grasp and upper extremity is also important to consider when using a mobile device for acquisition of handwriting. Here are just a few tools you might consider when working on handwriting on a mobile device:
Use of an easel or sturdy stand to promote wrist extension. On the cheap side – you can use a 3 or 4″ binder under your mobile device. Apply a nonskid material (dycem or place mat material) under the device.
- Trial use of styluses for creating the letter if the student is ready:
elago Stylus Grip – Provides a triangular shape and replaceable tips.
Cosmonaut: Wide-Grip Stylus – Durable and chunky. This stylus provides a solid tip that is durable and is somewhat heavy for more feedback when writing.
HHI Chunky Pencil-Like Capacitive Stylus – This stylus is heavy and provides great feedback for writing on a mobile device. Inexpensive, but no replacement tips are available.
Dano Toys Crayon Stylus – A favored stylus by some OT’s.
The Pencil Grip Ergo Stylus – Familiar with The Grip pencil grip? This is a stylus made by The Grip folks. Great capacitive stylus for young and old.
More for your teaching or OT mTool Kit!