For 7 years, I have used StartWrite to make handwriting worksheets for my kids. Not very long ago, version 6.0 was released. Is it user-friendly, customizable, and better than the free worksheet makers found online?
Is StartWrite 6.0 User-Friendly For Making Worksheets?
The menu and icons on StartWrite 6.0 are pretty easy to figure out. Many of them show you a picture of their function. As you become familiar with the program, mouse over the icons and they will tell you what the icon is for (see graphic for an example). To access all of the features for each tool, click on the arrow next to the picture since clicking on the icon simply turns off/on that feature.
Does StartWrite 6.0 Allow Me to Make Customizable Worksheets?
Text Box Sizes
StartWrite is set up so that teachers, parents, and other users can change how much of the page text boxes take up. This feature allows for pictures to be placed next to the text boxes. Simply click on the squares around the text box and drag them to change the size and/or location of the text box.
Clip-art and pictures
StartWrite also comes with its own clip-art so that pictures can be placed next to the text box or other places on the page.
You can also insert your own pictures. For instance, if your child is writing to a pen pal, they may want to include a picture about something that they want to share. For instance, this is a picture of my son when he needed stitches. He could write about his experience to his pen pal.
If you use a particular handwriting program, chances are, you’ll find the font that matches your program so that there is continuity between handwriting practice they’ve already done and what you are teaching right now. To the left is a graphic that shows a small number of fonts available.
Some of the handwriting curriculum names are so long that they are shortened to acronyms. HWOT is Handwriting With Out Tears.
I use the fonts above the line you see in the graphic the most because they are most like the handwriting curriculum that are geared toward kids.
However, if you want to make math worksheets. The fonts below the line are great for that. Each of the graphics show what I got when I typed in apple, then switched to a math font.
You can alter the guidelines. There are 4 guidelines available: the top, middle, base, and bottom (also known as descender) guidelines can be made solid or dashed or you may choose to turn them off. They can also be made thick or thin. They can be turned off altogether. Some examples are below.
The first one shows the traditional handwriting guidelines with the descender turned on. The descender shows how low the tails (or loops) for p, q, y, g, and j should go.
This example shows the traditional guidelines found in most curriculum for kids k-2.
This is what the guidelines for Handwriting Without Tears looks like. Handwriting Without Tears uses only the middle and base guidelines, both are solid.
If you want to, you can turn off all of the guidelines. This option might be practical for an older student who is practicing their handwriting or copying skills, but doesn’t need the guidelines.
The guideline colors may be changed to any color of the rainbow. So if you or your student prefer a certain color, you can change them.
Another fun feature is that you can add borders around each text box. StartWrite 6.0 comes with pictures that can go around the text boxes that correspond with each letter of the alphabet. There are also various symbols that you can choose from. Here is an example of a border you could use:
Another feature that I really like about the StartWrite program is that it comes with pre-made handwriting practice worksheets that will take the guess work out of getting started. See the example at the left.
The lessons come in the following categories:
Each category contains a folder for lower and upper case lessons. The lower and upper case lessons include all of the letters of the alphabet.
When you look at the lessons under the Manuscript title, you’ll find these lessons:
The one challenging feature I had a little bit of trouble with at first is selecting text on multiple lines within a single text box. In version 6.0, I successfully selected text on one line on my first try, but it took more effort to select two or more. Once I figured out how to do it, selecting text on multiple lines became a breeze.
However, this really isn’t a big deal and most people can figure out how to select text within a few minutes.
Is StartWrite 6.0 Better Than the Free Online Programs?
If you are going to make only one worksheet and you do not want to make it fun looking or want to customize it, then the free online handwriting worksheet creators are for you. They are easy to use, do not offer you many options, and you can print them out in a few minutes
One handwriting worksheet maker I tried only let me place 6 words on a page and my options were limited to font size, manuscript or cursive, letter color, and line color. This isn’t practical if I want to have my student practice with phrases, sentences, or paragraph. I couldn’t create decorations or save it to my hard drive for later use.
Another program had a few fields where I could add the words that would show up on a handwriting practice page. There wasn’t a lot of flexibility there either.
A third online handwriting page gave me these options:
However, I want to be able to make my worksheets fun and exciting. So these free online handwriting worksheet creators aren’t going to cut the cake for me. My home school and Sunday School kids enjoy the customizations that I can make with StartWrite 6.0.
But don’t take my word for it. You can try it and see what StartWrite 6.0 is for you.
Also, I am in the process of creating worksheets to help my sons practice their site words for the Barton Reading and Spelling Program. You can download them and edit them using StartWrite 6.0 for your own use. Barton Site Word Worksheets