Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wet-Dry-Try... What?

Home Screen

When the opportunity to review a new handwriting app rolled around I thought it might be a case of perfect timing, as youngest has been writing tags (Started with Christmas), and was *just* asking how to make a "3" and a "5" as he was making price tags for yard-sales and craft items (Enterprising little fellow :D).

Pick and Practice Screen
Handwriting Without Tears is a company name that I have heard mentioned frequently in my years as a homeschooling mom, but I have never gotten a close look at any of their products before. The app that we used for this review, the Wet-Dry-Try app, is based on the HWT Slate Chalkboard activity. Pretty nifty to have the activity without all the accompanying pieces (chalk, sponge, paper towel).

Winning Order Screen
The app covers numbers and uppercase letters. Once a user is set up, there are options to follow the HWT "Winning Order" or "Pick and Practice" depending on what one is trying to accomplish. What we did varied depending on the day. For "General use" we followed the "Winning Order," but if youngest was itching to know how to write a specific letter or numeral we went straight to Pick and Practice.

Getting ready to do the final "Try"
after the "Wet and the Dry"
The basic concept is that the specific letter or numeral is first drawn by the app, with a narrator who talks through the first writing of letter while it is drawn for the child. Next the child follows the chalk drawing with a "wet" sponge, and then a "dry" towel. There are settings to allow for easier or more challenging "Stroke Tolerance," which relates to how closely the child can follow the initial strokes. If they slip too far from the path there is a "Whoa! Let's try that again." prompt from the narrator.

Each letter must be "Traced" correctly 3 times at a minimum (wet, dry, try) before the child earns a star, and 3 stars must be earned before the child earns a colored in "letter card" for their chart. The third "Star" is earned with no prompts on how the letters or numerals are formed.
Yes! Here comes the twirling star!

The initial reaction the first day:
"I want to do this every day! "
"Listen to the lady, Mamma. She's like you! She's nice!" (Awwww.....)
He loved the number and letter cards.
(It drives me just a little nutty with the "You are smart!" comment. I'd prefer something like "That was great!" but hey~ different strokes for different folks... except when you're forming your letters... ;) )

Now, I do have to mention that we did have some technical difficulties to begin with when we first set up the app, which was rather unfortunate. With all the excitement of trying the new app (and his reactions quoted above) Youngest spent a fair amount of time going through the winning order, unlocking letters and earning stars. However, the app "glitched" and when we picked it up the next day, all of his progress was lost. :( After a few days, emails, and troubleshooting ideas from the good folk at HWT, the app finally started to behave.

*Troubleshooting tip: We had to delete and reinstall a couple of times before we got a "clean" install that wasn't corrupted... something to remember when having issues with apps in general~ when they aren't responding as expected they might have loaded incorrectly. I have also learned that I might want to "Try" certain "Reward-based" apps myself before handing them over to Youngest, to avoid disappearing disappointment.

See, Mom!
I have ALL the number cards! 
By and large, I am appreciating the ability to have Youngest work on letters and numerals that he is asking to write, or that I see need some work as I watch his writing, as well as the ability to go through sets of letters that are in a particular order, based on their formation. Youngest loves earning the stars and the Letter/Number cards~

Best of all, now when he starts to form a letter or number incorrectly, sometimes all it takes is a reminder of what how the wet-dry-try app  drew it to correct his strokes. Sounds like success to me! :)

Note, while I would like to see lowercase letters included, as that would seem to be a natural progression, I suspect that HWT does not use the slate for the lowercase practice, as it seems uniquely suited for uppercase and numeral work.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about this app, as well as reviews of the new editions of HWT Student books and Teacher guides for grades K-3. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

Disclaimer: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Review Crew Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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