Handwriting Without Tears iPad App Review

     As an Occupational Therapist I am very familiar with Handwriting Without Tears. I have attended their professional development workshops and have used their books and method for years. As a new iPad owner, the Wet-Dry-Try App was a completely new resource to me before this review. 

     An iPad has been on my wish list since I watched another therapist working with a student using one last year. My husband surprised me with one for Christmas, and I've enjoyed trying out games and educational apps for my own children as well as the students that I work with. 

     HWT was developed by Jan Olsen, an Occupational Therapist. "Jan and her staff work to create materials and books that meet educators’ needs in a way that is fun and engaging, while developmentally appropriate and effective for all students." The "Wet, Dry, Try" app works with the capital letters as well as  numbers simulating HWT's unique wet, dry, try chalkboard method with a touch screen instead of a chalkboard. Though the sensory experience and grasp of the sponge, paper towel, and chalk is missing, the child still has to focus on correct movements and controlled fingertip movements. I have a bit of sensory aversion to chalk, so I actually prefer this method. 

     Though my son can already print, he does still need occasional cuing for proper letter formation. I thought this app would be a good review for him and a reinforcement for printing correctly. Each letter is demonstrated and the wording describes exactly how the child is to form the letter. "Watch for the clue about where to start each stroke."

The "wet" step involves tracing the correctly formed letter on a chalkboard using a small wet sponge. "Now dry the letter with the towel." The wet, dry, try method provides repetition of the proper movements for formation of each letter and number. 
The app imitates HWT's "wet, dry, try" method even uses tools that look like the real thing. Pictured below is the "dry" tracing using the crumpled bit of paper towel.

     This app was easy for my son to follow and complete after listening to the instructions. The setup allows 4 students at a time to have their names and information stored. The names can be changed, which erases the history of the prior one stored and allows a new student to start at the beginning of the program. Music is built into the introduction section, but only voice and occasional cue sounds ("frog jump" stroke followed by rib-bit of a frog) are heard during the writing task. A lady's voice provides step by step instruction and encouragement. Mistakes are followed by comments such as "Give it another shot," and correct strokes are encouraged with comments such as "cool beans!" or "You are smart!" After completing the wet-dry-try routine correctly once the student earns a star. Children earn a star when they complete a letter correctly and a "letter card" (which is a small icon representing the letter with a picture such as apple for the letter a) after three correct attempts. Encouragement is abundant from the app teacher. "Good" "Cool Beans!" or Excellent" follow their successes. "Give it another try" is one of the encouraging prompts after incorrect movements. There is a retry button on the bottom right that occasionally was accidentally pushed by my son, starting that letter over at his current level.

    Some things in the app are not explained, though they are clear if you are already familiar with the HWT program. There is a smiley face at the top left of the "chalkboard" to remind children where to start their letters. The app is easy to understand and follow as a stand alone, however the complete HWT program would work best as additional reinforcement with their complete program. This app addresses proper formation of numbers and capital letters. I would like to see lower-case as well, and hope they have plans for developing that. 

     We received a copy of this app at no cost to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew. Other crew members have reviewed this app as well as HWT's KindergartenFirst GradeSecond GradeThird Grade workbooks and teacher guides. 



  1. Wow, I must say it is an amazing iPad app especially for the kids in learning age.

    Sara William
    Click to buy Economical iPad Covers

  2. I loved your review. This looks like so much fun! We reviewed the 2nd grade program and I am waiting for an iPad to try out the app. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Enjoyed your review - loved the pictures of the actual screen!

  4. Thanks! He is past this now, but it isn't one I plan to delete from my iPad.


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