Thursday, April 7, 2011

Handwriting Without Tears

Handwriting Without Tears is a complete collection of handwriting instruction for Pre-K through Grade 5 children. Developed by an occupational therapist, the materials are straightforward and easy to use.

Starting with the Pre-K and Kindergarten curriculum, children explore the capital letters using a clever set of blocks which include four shapes: big curve, little curve, big line, and little line. These four shapes allow you to make the uppercase version of every letter of the alphabet except J and U (although you can "cheat" and even make those). Children also experience the letters by making them in clay, writing them on a magnetic slate, and writing them on a specially shaped chalkboard. A CD of songs gets you singing, "Where do you start your letters? At the top!" and other tunes to help children remember how to form the letters. All three of my children have enjoyed building the letters with the special blocks before they had the fine motor skills to write the same letters.

Later grades use less extra tools, but the materials continue to be clear and easy to use. The workbooks are inexpensive and fun looking without being flashy. For grades one through four, two workbooks of print are followed by two workbooks of cursive. Fifth graders have the choice of a print or cursive book.

Handwriting Without Tears uses an unusual line design with a base line and middle line but no top line. Their cursive font is upright rather than slanted. The writing style is simple and neat. The letters are introduced by the shapes used rather than by order in the alphabet.

The company has recently come out with a whole series of early math and literacy materials which I haven't used, but I can definitely say their handwriting series is a great resource for anyone looking for a handwriting curriculum. It is especially suited for children who have difficulty with fine motor skills.

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