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Handwriting Without Tears

Publisher: Handwriting Without Tears
Review last updated: 2012

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Handwriting Without Tears

Handwriting Without Tears teaches handwriting for children Pre-K through about 5th grade. Some distinctives of this program are:

- it teaches upper case letters before lower case
- it teaches groups of letters together that have similar strokes for their formation or the same starting points for their formation
- letters are not slanted for either printing or cursive
- multi-sensory learning methods are used for instruction

HWT's style is simpler than traditional cursive, but it differs from the most of the other "simplified cursive" forms in that there is no slant and some of the letters (e.g., "e", "f", and "k") change form from printing to cursive.

I mentioned multi-sensory learning methods in the list of distinctive features. Preschoolers and kindergartners work with wooden shapes (lines and curves) to form letters on Capital Letter Cards. They use the magnetic Stamp and See Screen to form letters. Adding yet another tactile activity, preschoolers use the dough from the Roll-A-Dough Letters set to roll out letters to match to laminated cards. Kindergartners begin using the 4"x 6" Slate Chalkboard to write individual letters. They might also use the 10" x 17" Blackboard with Double Lines as they learn to write words. Auditory learners can listen to the Rock, Rap, Tap & Learn CD as they learn.

There are a teachers' guide and student workbook for each level Pre-K through 4th grade. Get Set for School, the Pre-K workbook, teaches shapes, strokes to be used in letter and number formation, numbers, letters, and capital/lower case recognition. Letters and Numbers for Me teaches kindergartners both capital and lower case letters and numbers. It also covers beginning handwriting instruction in such skills as paper placement. My First Printing Book for first grade introduces the correct use of either lower or upper case letters in sentences along with punctuation as students continue to practice letter and word formation.

Up through first grade students learn to print on double-line pages. This approach differs from the traditional triple-line format normally used. It eliminates the top line but leaves more space between lines. Children then focus more on formation within the double lines with extensions going above and below. In second grade, students begin to write on single lines.

The second grade book, Printing Power, reviews basic formation of letters and continues with word and sentence writing. Cursive Handwriting, the third grade workbook, introduces cursive writing. It begins with the letters requiring the simplest joins to make the transition simple. Cursive Success provides fourth graders plenty of practice to develop fluency in cursive.

(All of the student workbooks for grades K through 4 are also available in Spanish and French.)

Can-Do Print and Can-Do Cursive are books that might be used by students fifth grade or above who still need additional work in either area. There are no teacher guides for either of these books. Students originally taught another handwriting system but who need remediation might need to start in one of the lower level books.

Additional items you might want are Wall Cards, Desk Strips, HWT Double Line Paper (in wide, regular, and narrow line widths), Big Sheet Draw and Write Paper (large 11" x 17" pages with lines on the bottom half), and the Magic C Bunny Puppet. Of special interest to those with struggling printers might be the Gray Block Paper. The packet includes 26 pages each of four different styles of blocks on each page: Starting Corner Dot, Center Starting Dot, Alphabet/Number Review, and Blank Gray Blocks.

Lessons are designed to be presented by the parent/teacher although most work can be done independently once children have learned the basic forms.

HWT is a great choice for homeschoolers since the instruction is very child-friendly. There's a reasonable amount of practice, but not so much that children feel overwhelmed. Also, the cost of the books is very low. The other items provide more multi-sensory learning but are not essential for every child.

HWT includes some broader language arts skills within its handwriting lessons. However, they have also introduced an additional resource for kindergarten called Sentence School, which is to be used alongside HWT. Sentence School is a 248-page, spiral-bound teacher guide that comes with a set of 215 laminated word cards. It teaches spelling, grammar, composition, vocabulary, and reading comprehension (at levels appropriate for kindergartners) through brief, multi-sensory lessons.


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  • Letters and Numbers for Me

    Letters and Numbers for Me

    Jan Olsen

    Printing Power

    Printing Power

    Jan Olsen

    Handwriting Without Tears 1st Grade Printing Teacher's Guide

    Handwriting Without Tears 1st Grade Printing Teacher

    Jan Olsen

    Instant Key

    • Learning Styles: all
      Suitable for: 
      direct instruction plus independent work; particularly good for left-handed writers
      grades PreK - 5
      Need for parent/teacher instruction: 
      moderate to high, depending upon age and ability
      Prep time needed:
      Need for Teacher's Manual: 
      Religious perspective:

    Publisher's Info

    • Handwriting Without Tears

      8001 MacArthur Blvd.
      Cabin John, MD 20818