Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fundanoodle! A new writing program for us!

When the boys were in preschool, Handwriting Without Tears was the writing program that every Occupational Therapist was talking about. It has hands-on activities that help the kids learn to build letters, catchy little songs, and lots of repetition. We bought some portions of the kit, and when I decided to homeschool, we used this as our main handwriting program.

Handwriting Without Tears, however, does have some flaws. The first, and most important, is that it requires you to use their special lined paper. It does not transition well to primary paper and makes transitioning to regular lined paper confusing.  I really noticed this with Andrew. We have been using Handwriting Without Tears since he was 4. School doesn't use Handwriting Without Tears paper, but he had learned on that.  Thus, he was never writing on the correct lines at school. The letters were always written through the lines and he didn't quite understand why this was wrong. 

Another issue with Handwriting Without Tears is that the focus for the hands-on activities is really on the capital letters. Now that Andrew has moved beyond learning those, however, he is having difficulty learning to write the lowercase ones. The workbooks do have lowercase letters in them, but the focus thus far has really been on uppercase formation.

One day, while researching handwriting programs on the internet, I stumbled upon Fundanoodle. It looked AWESOME! At that time, the kits and books seemed to only be available on Amazon. I sometimes hate buying things online without being able to hold them in my hands and look through them. Since it was a new program, there weren't any available at the used homeschooling store to see, so I decided to just go ahead with the program I was using and then look at it again for Andrew for summer writing practice and potentially for Benjamin when he finishes the Handwriting Without Tears book on which he is currently working. 

A few months ago, I was walking down the aisles of my local Target store when the boys saw these workbooks up on the shelf. They immediately said, "Mom! Wow! Look at those handwriting books! Can we get those?" (BTW... the Handwriting Without Tears books are pretty bland in comparison to the brightly colored, kid-themed ones of Fundanoodle). I immediately recognized them as the ones I had researched. Target also had the hands-on kits. I told the boys that we would get them to try over the summer. Here is what we think of it so far:

  1. You can buy them at Target. I sometimes HATE having to wait for workbooks or activities to come in the mail and hate ordering things without seeing them first. I have been disappointed more than once after receiving an item in the mail.
  2. They are colorful and engaging.
  3. Every page has instructions on how to form the letter at the top. This is extremely helpful for my boys who sometimes need reminders on how to make them... especially the lowercase letters.
  4. There are hands-on activity kits for both upper and lowercase letters.
  5. It transitions MUCH easier to primary paper. It starts with the kids making the letters in the boxes like Handwriting Without Tears, but then gradually adds the lines and takes away the boxes so that at the end of that page, the kids are writing the letter on primary lined paper. I loved Andrew's AHA moment when he exclaimed, "Oh, THAT'S how you are supposed to do it!" Handwriting Without Tears was causing a lot of confusion on letter placement for him.
  6. It comes with practice paper in the back of the workbook. I have already laminated them for Andrew so that he can do daily practice with the letters. I have found that doing daily practice with all letters and then working on just one individual letter is extremely helpful. With the Handwriting Without Tears program, I had to buy the practice paper separately. It comes with the Fundanoodle program.
  7. The sticks used in the hands-on part of the program are magnetic. I have said over the last few years that I really wish the Handwriting Without Tears ones were magnetic and have thought about putting magnets on those ones for that purpose. 
  1. There is only one level at this time. Handwriting Without Tears has multiple levels to take the kids from prewriting all the way through cursive. I wish this program had the same, even though the level that they have is perfect for the skill level of my kids at this time.
  2. You have to buy separate workbooks for upper and lower case letters. They are both included in Handwriting Without Tears program, starting at the Kindergarten book. The cost of the Fundanoodle workbooks is less though, so it basically evens out as far as cost goes.
Here are pictures of some of the work that Andrew has done in the workbooks so far. 

The lower-case letter "i" in the workbook.
See how it transitions from boxes all the way to primary lines.

I laminated this practice sheet found in the back of the workbook.
Andrew uses his dry-erase markers on it to practice daily.
One side has lowercase letters, one side has uppercase letters.

We will definitely be making the switch from Handwriting Without Tears to Fundanoodle. The good thing is that the transition should be fairly easy. It is similar to Handwriting Without Tears in many ways, but has some improvements that make it much more appealing. My boys seem to really enjoy working in these books, which is not always the case with Handwriting Without Tears. I'm lovin' the new program!

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