• Welcome teachers! Log in or Register Now for a free ProTeacher account!

Handwriting Without Tears and Phonics?

Reading | Literature 


Senior Member
Handwriting without Tears is new to our school this year, without training of course. While we're excited about it, I'm not quite sure how to incorporate it with our phonics. We use Zoo phonics and in the past have focused on one letter a day. So HWT has a sequence they suggest introducing the letters. Would this be the sequence we should follow for introducing the sounds as well. That doesn't seem to make sense to me so I'm kinda stuck on how to incorporate the two together.
Should HWT wait until later in the year? In my last district, formal handwriting didn't start until the second half of K. Anyone with Zoo Phonics or HWT experience help please! :-)


Senior Member
Okay another question that goes with my first! What order do you introduce the letters in? I've always had a basal or curriculum at my other schools that dictates a sequence, but not at my current school. I'm not complaining about a lack of a basal, just trying to figure out what makes the most sense and follows best practices! :-)


Senior Member
I used Handwriting Without Tears last year. We don't use the workbooks or anything, so I kind of just used it as a guide, but I did follow the letter introduction order they set out. We were working on letter sounds at the same time and we didn't use the same order. It was fine for the kids- they weren't confused or anything. We don't use a phonics program but I don't see any reason why you couldn't use both at the same time even if you are focusing on different letters at once.


Full Member

I have used Handwriting without Tears for about four years, but I teach first and second grade. The order the letters are introduced in focus on common letter strokes. We just finished our capital letter review, and today was our first lowercase letter introduction. I introduced the c (magic c in HWT) and the o which both begin with the magic c curve. On Monday, we will introduce the lowercase s which begins the same way.

I don't think you should adjust your phonics program to match the HWT because I am sure that those sounds are taught in a developmental sequence as well.

I second what kiki056 said that you can use both programs even though they focus on different letters.


Junior Member
separate them

I've used both zoophonics and HWT. I used to think I needed to put them together, but that felt messy to me. Now I do them separately. I think this is especially important, because HWT begins with capitals first and I really like to focus on the zoophonics lowercase letters from the beginning. Also, doing them separately allows me to teach the special kinds of formation in HWT like frog jump capitals, magic c letters, and diving letters without interfering with phonics.

However, I will say that combining them did work out pretty well. I followed the order I preferred for phonics and just jumped around in the handwriting book. It wasn't a bad choice. I like doing it separately better, but the other way worked, too.

As far as what order to introduce the letters (your 2nd question), I think most programs and most basals go with an order that includes common, continuous sounds first, like m, s, and f, followed by a couple of pretty distinct ones, like t, b or c, and a vowel, usually a. After they have these letters you have enough to start blending and making some words. So then you add a few more consonants, another vowel, etc. until you finish up with the really less used letters like x or z or q.
Last edited:


Junior Member
We also use Zoo Phonics and HWT. I just introduced the letters in HWT sequence and introduce the Zoo Phonics animals that go along with those letters. For instance this week we did the "Frog Jump" capitals and learned the sound and motion that goes along with those letters.


New Member
Yes, use both in their recommended format

I've used both as well (I'm a kindergarten teacher) and struggled with this same question. It really works to use both as recommended. I tell the kiddos (and my parents at open house) that we work on all the letters all the time, and we focus on each letter as it comes up in each subject. I also use a monthly hw program with really easy/fun stuff to do like count the stairs in your house, draw a picture of something loud, write the letter "A" 3X, etc. which goes in ABC order. For this reason I don't do a LOW, but my reading program trumps them all, so for show-n-tell the item will match that letter.


Junior Member
I use HWWT and follow the way they introduce their letters. The last couple of years I paired the printing activity with making an alphabet book to help us practice our letter sounds - we printed the letter, wrote words that start with that letter, drew pictures of things that start with that letter, and then did an art activity to go with the letter (like zipper rubbings for Z). I love doing it that way, however the HWWT plus the abc book took a long time to complete and I found I wasn't teaching the proper printing of some letters until late in the year. This year I'm going to try doing just the HWWT printing first and then using the abc book as a review of the printing with a focus on the letter sounds.