by Linda Corbett, CALT
Handwriting is and will remain an important literacy skill. Even though technology is an undeniable boon to children with writing problems, technological advances do not eliminate the need for explicit teaching of handwriting. As we increasingly communicate electronically via keyboards large and small, technology often gets blamed for handwriting's demise. However with a new and interesting twist, we can maintain this ancient skill and bridge the two together. This can be facilitated with new available software for touch-screen devices. Researchers have found that writing by hand engages the brain in learning. Through magnetic imaging, pictures have shown researchers that sequential finger movements activate massive regions in the brain involved in thinking, language, and working memory - the system for temporarily storing and managing information. Handwriting is more than just a way to communicate; handwriting has both cognitive and motor benefits. Letter formation skills still need to be taught and practiced. Below are some handwriting apps that will shore-up handwriting fluency while activating those important areas in the brain.
- Handwriting Without Tears – Wet-Dry-Try (iPad 2) $4.99
On a virtual slate chalkboard “Wet-Dry-Try” helps children learn and practice capital letters and numbers in a multisensory way. Helps students establish correct habits, left to right letter formation without reversals. Three levels of difficulty to build skills progressively with personal instructional coaching.
- Zaner-Bloser Handwriting - Manuscript (iPhone, iPad) $1.99
Children will love learning to print manuscript uppercase and lowercase letters with this fun and interactive app. Zaner-Bloser’s manuscript alphabet is one of the most widely used ‘handwriting methods and supported by schools. Video animations show correct formation of letters and numbers with built in rewards to celebrate young writer’s success. Trace and Practice modes available with hints available for correct directional strokes. Also available in Spanish.
- ABC Tracer (iPhone, iPad) FREE
A comprehensive ABC learning App. This app animates and shows how manuscript letters are made with strokes in the right order on traditional blue and red lines. User is provided with immediate feedback on correct or incorrectly made letter formations. This app offers additional re-enforcing alphabet activities that are both fun and engaging. My personal favorite is popping the balloons in alphabetical order.
- Zaner-Bloser Handwriting - Cursive (iPhone, iPad) $1.99
This handwriting app will instruct children to learn the mechanics of cursive letter formation. Upper and lower cursive letters are taught in a fun and interactive way that will encourage students’ to practice and develop letter fluency. This app gives you three ways to practice: See movie, Trace, and Practice. Also available in Spanish.
- ABC Cursive Writing (iPhone, iPad) $.99
One of my favorite cursive handwriting apps. Not only does this app teach each letter correctly and systematically; all letters begin on the baseline with an approach stroke added, essential when connecting letters to form words. This approach stroke is shown in a different color. This app compliments handwriting instruction taught in the Basic Language Skills training at Neuhaus Education Center.
- Cursive Practice Full Screen (iPad) $.99
This full screen app allows for practicing English Cursive Handwriting. Choose your color and practice upper case or lower case letters, words, sentences, and famous quotes. App also includes a blank mode for personal individualized practice.
- ABC Cards - Tracing Cursive HD (iPad) $1.99
Learn ABC cursive uppercase or lowercase letters with stroke by stoke tracing animation or practice letters on your own. See the letter, Hear the letter, Trace the Letter, Learn the letter.
- Glow Coloring (iPhone, iPad) FREE
A doodle app that can be used for the practice of letters. The fun is in its 36 glowing colors to choose from. Select from six brush sizes, with 66 unique style brushes. Lots of fun and creative applications, handwriting being one of them.
- Use Your Handwriting (iPhone, iPad) FREE
An app that lets you actually use your handwriting and write beautiful notes without using the popup keyboard. Use to write just about anything, make color-coded list, send e-mails, Facebook post or tweets in your own handwriting.
- Doodle Buddy (iPhone, iPad) FREE
Paint, Draw, Scribble, Sketch, or PRACTICE LETTERS! Lots of cool drawing tools: paintbrush, glitter, chalk, text, stencils, smudge and more. Includes a 44,000- color picker. Shake to erase, it’s that simple.
- Whiteboard Lite: Collaborative Drawing (iPhone, iPad) FREE
A Whiteboard app. Choose your color, create and share with others.
- Chalk Pad (iPhone, iPad) FREE
This app turns your iPad into a chalkboard. This Chalkboard App was voted #1 in the App Store. Choose your color, size font and background. After completion user has the option to e-mail picture, save to Photo Library, Post to Facebook or Print. May upgrade app to eliminate advertisements.
- Chalkboard+ Neon (iPhone, iPad) $.99
A chalkboard app available for iPhone, iPad, and iTouch. Includes 8 neon chalk colors in adjustable sizes.