Thursday, October 25, 2012

Handwriting Without Tears

I've heard about Handwriting Without Tears (HWOT) since Sweet Pea was just a few months old and I was listening to the NDSC convention session mp3s.  It is...surprise...a handwriting program that was developed by an Occupational Therapist and is heralded by so many teachers and therapists that we have worked with.  Everything that I have heard makes sense, but I knew that I had a long time before I needed to worry about it.  I should have known that the day would come a lot sooner than I thought it would!  It's definitely here and I've been looking into HWOT for a few months now, but refuse to pay the money for the actual curriculum.  Sweet Pea is getting pieces of it at school and so I just don't think it is necessary to put out the money for the real versions of this stuff for at home.  However, there are some ways to utilize the HWOT techniques without all the equipment!  This blog has a great list of how to make DIY versions of many of their items.  She points readers over to this blog for the templates of the letters for build-a-letter formation.

So I went to a local craft store today and bought a pack of foam sheets and am having hubby print out the templates and I will get busy making my own set of HWOT tools.  The wood pieces from HWOT are about $30 and the letter template mats are another $20 so the ink and a few dollars for the foam is much more feasible for us!

I'm still looking for a little chalkboard as our local stores don't seem to carry them anymore, but I might just get chalkboard paint and make my own if it comes down to it.  I've thought about painting a door with that paint so I might go for it...eventually.

HWOT has an app available now, Wet/Dry/Try, which has promise, but I don't think Sweet Pea is ready for that yet.  For one thing writing on the ipad is very different than writing in real life.  You can't rest your hand on the screen and that is the natural position for writing!  A friend of mine cut the fingers out of a knit glove for her son so that he could use the app with his hand resting on the screen and I thought that was brilliant.  I do like that the app directs you to work on the easier letters first, but allows you to work on any letter if you so choose.  It certainly has potential, but not something that we need right away.

HWOT offers a few workbooks which I have heard good things about.  I will look into those some more when we get to that stage.  I think just working with the play-doh, matman and the wood (foam) shapes will be a great starting point for us.  You can checkout the workbooks on the HWOT website.

Another find was these videos on here for a list of all HWOT videos, but you do have to keep clicking to see more at the bottom of each screen.  There are 65 or so and they would take a long time to get through all of them, but the titles give good descriptions so you can pick and choose what is of interest to you.  There are some songs that go along with their curriculum and music is always helpful with Sweet Pea so I was interested in hearing them...but again...didn't want to buy them since I'm not sure we will use them enough to warrant the expense.  These videos have some of the songs so anytime we want to hear them we can play the video!  Simple as that!  Sweet Pea was really enjoying the one that I came across while she was around so I think these will be very well received.  I've highlighted some of the videos that I found to be the best:

This video talks about why HWOT teaches capital letters first.  I knew this already as my retired kindergarten teacher mom had shared this info with me.  It really is wonderful having her helping me so much!

This video is a song all about the end of the alphabet...V - Z and the diagonals that those letters are comprised of.  I never realized before that the end of the alphabet has all those diagonals!  

This video is for a song, "Frog Jump Letter" that teachers the easiest capital letters for children to learn.  This is the song that Sweet Pea really enjoyed so here it is:

This video is for the song, "Tap, Tap, Tap" and could be fun.  We will see.

This video shows how to build the letters using the wood pieces and the templates.

This video shows how Mat Man works and I think this is where we will actually be starting.  The song that goes with it will be fun to use as well.  The progression of taking Mat Man from the wood pieces to just regular drawings is a great idea!  I would LOVE if Sweet Pea would start to draw actual things instead of random scribbles and this might be a good way to encourage and teach that.  If I can unleash some creativity that would be phenomenal!

Here is a great video for showing how you can use play-doh to create letters.  I personally would make extra copies of the letters so that I had enough for her entire name as I don't think it would be as clear for her to understand that we were going to just use the same card twice (even the girl in the video wasn't keen on that idea).

This video cracks me up!  I think it is really smart to use this technique for teaching the child to hold the paper with the other hand...the "helping hand". 

A cute video and song for teaching proper pencil grip finger positions.

This is a cute video for showing how the wet/dry/try method is used.

I'm looking forward to trying some of this out.  I'll try to update you on our progress...but I'm not very good at that so time will tell if I actually do it.  :-)

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