Whenever a parent asks me to recommend an app to help her kids to learn tracing letters and numbers, I always point them to LetterSchool, which was instrumental in teaching both my sons to write with their fingers. But while LetterSchool is a great and fun app for younger juniors, older kids need a different kind of app to suit their needs.
My son Philip is a good example. He's been learning to trace letters and numbers using LetterSchool since he was two years old. He is now a fluent writer, but he still struggles when writing in smaller sizes. So I was excited when I found a new app that would help him relearn and extend his writing techniques.
Write Smaller and Longer
Writing Wizard - Kids Learn to Write Letters is a brand new app from L’Escapadou, which provides a great environment for juniors to learn finger tracing. It supports uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and even words. The app supports three most popular handwriting styles: Zaner-Bloser, D'Nealian, and HWT.
To keep juniors interested, Writing Wizard includes fun animated stickers and sound effects while tracing. It also includes helpful guides on where to start and how to trace. When a letter is completed, kids can interact and play with the stickers in four different games.
The app offers two difficulty levels: free play and 5-star play. Free play utilizes large letters and thick lines, which makes it perfect for first timers. The mode also allows players to stop between validation points and only shows the lines drawn within the tracing model. Thus, the letter will always look nice however it is traced.
When your juniors are ready, they can try the 5-star play mode. This mode seems them collecting five stars that are available for each letter, number, and word. To do this, they need to trace the same letter five times. Each tracing session will be more difficult than the last. For example, while the first star can be easily acquired using the same technique in free play mode, the fifth star may require players to write in a smaller and more accurate fashion as the tracing lines get thinner.
Writing Wizard also lets players write words instead of just letters and numbers. In its default three-letter words list, the app includes 32 common sight words, such as boy, cow, key, pie, and toy. This allows juniors to practice writing in a smaller and longer fashion.
Parents Need to Know
Writing Wizard supports multiple user profiles. This allows you as parents to customize tracing sessions for each junior. Any parameter that you modify will be saved for each junior's profile. The default parameters are set for beginners.
Once you have set up the proper difficulty level for your juniors, you can also track their performances. The app has a Tracing History menu where you can see all the letters that your juniors have traced. You can even replay the entire tracing process. The app shows a different color each time you stop and make a new stroke. This allows you to learn where your juniors are struggling and whether the current difficulty level suits them or not.
You can also export these reports as an email. If you do, the app will generate an illustration of all their recent tracings compared against the tracing models.
The developers suggested that you should also try using a stylus. Based on my experience with Philip, using a stylus is not mandatory. It only teaches juniors how to hold a pencil. It's quite difficult to find a short and fat stylus that works best for their small hands. Granted, you can learn how they fare using a stylus through the detailed tracing reports. But if you really want your kids to practice writing with a pencil, I'd suggest giving them crayons and papers instead.
Things I Like
For each lowercase letter, Writing Wizard gives you a set of three lines to guide you writing a proper size of each letter. This helps Philip to learn the size differentiation and correct formation of tall letters (e.g. b, d, and f), short letters (e.g. c, e, and m), and descending letters (e.g. j, p, and q). This is a crucial thing as he learns to write longer and more complex words.
Another thing that I really appreciate is the ability to define customized words lists. This allows Philip to practice writing words - beyond the default list of 32 three-letter words. For example, I could list the names of everyone in our household, our close relatives, and his friends at school. That way, learning is so much fun.
The list is versatile enough that you can also use them to teach them to write non-English words. For example, I can create a word list that contains only Indonesian words to teach Philip his native language. The fact that your juniors can add their own narration to each custom word makes the entire experience magical.
Writing Wizard is the next app that you should get if your juniors have already mastered LetterSchool. The app allows them to learn how to write in smaller and longer forms. It teaches them to be more accurate with their handwriting. Its replay and detailed reports really help you, as a parent, to find the areas where your juniors need more practice. And finally, the ability to define countless custom words makes Writing Wizard an app that I'd keep on all my iPads for a very long time.