Common Sense Review
Updated October 2013

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

Classic method offers three-step, low-stress learning approach
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Choose handwriting practice in uppercase letters, lowercase letters, or numbers.
  • Kids erase the example letter with a wet sponge, then dry it with towel, and try it with chalk.
  • Letters grouped in HWT order include similar starting points or stroke sequences.
  • Students earn cute, colorful letter cards for successfully tracing a letter three times.
  • Detailed tracking and reporting can help teachers see each kid's progress and most common errors.
These time-tested methods translate easily between digital and real-life practice.
No phonics is incorporated, and some kids may find the interface dull.
Bottom Line
Kids get systematic letter- and number-tracing practice, and teachers get lots of data and support.
Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

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.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

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 Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

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

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Use Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try Suite for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase as a supplement to hands-on tracing practice in the classroom. Set a specific time each day for kids to trace one or two letters through all three levels. Incorporate the language used by the coach in the app (such as "frog jump" and "helicopter") during in-class handwriting lessons. One of the greatest assets of HWT is the support for teachers via the tracking and reporting information and the website-based ideas for helping kids learn handwriting with maximum fun and minimum frustration. If you have the budget, you can order the individual student user passes to track individual progress data, making classroom use even more effective. Teachers can also find Common Core correlations related to all HWT products on the HWT website to find out how to extend this app's learning beyond the iPad.

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What's It Like?

Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try Suite for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase is a very focused handwriting practice app based on the popular, long-standing 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, a "dry" towel, and then tracing them with chalk keeps practice easy and consistent. Kids watch and listen to the coach complete the letter, step by step, then they erase the letter with a sponge, dry the letter with a towel, and try to trace the letter with chalk. Kids can repeat the same letter two more times with increasing difficulty to earn a colorful letter card, or skip to other letters. The pleasant-voiced writing coach provides crystal-clear verbal instructions and visual demonstrations, 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.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Through using Handwriting Without Tears' skillful Wet-Dry-Try system and its 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 letter formation. As kids develop fine motor skills from doing the same motions three times in a row through three difficulty levels to earn a letter card, the app gently promotes the emotional skill of perseverance. If kids veer too far off course, the app requires them to restart that tracing stroke. You can extend the learning with other HWT products or get more ideas via videos on the website; kids can continue learning in other sensorial ways, such as by using real mini-chalkboards or fun, creative movement.

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See how teachers are using Handwriting Without Tears: Wet-Dry-Try Suite for Capitals, Numbers & Lowercase

Lesson Plans

  • Writing Right
    English Language Arts
    Grade Pre-K
    August D.
    Ridgewood Elementary School
    Eureka, CA
    4 steps
    February 2, 2016