Amazing Apps to Improve Fine Motor Skills and Handwriting!
Kids LOVE touch screen devices…
In fact, for households with children 8 years and under, 78% have a tablet and 42% of those children have their very OWN tablet. And this trend is surely rising. There is no doubt that touch screen devices have the potential to impact future learning. Parents, teachers and therapists are increasingly using touch screen devices to help their child/student engage in interactive learning.
Because they are so motivating! And motivation drives learning.
Although there are an incredible amount of learning apps and games that are marketed as ‘learning tools’ there is little evidence based on the established learning theories. So how do we harness this motivation and facilitate meaningful learning experiences for our children, while avoiding the negative effects technology may have on development?
As stated by Dr. Michelle Nuemann, “Only through joint-collaboration of researchers, parents, teachers, children, app developers, and policy makers can answers to these important questions be addressed and the benefits of tablets be truly harnessed for early learning.”
In an effort to promote that collaboration, here are just a few learning apps that may help with various handwriting and fine motor skills:
This application is created for children ages 2-6 to work on strength, control and dexterity. It’s even marketed as the “#1 Recommended Motor Skill App Now Available for Preschoolers & Toddlers.” Watch the video below of the app in use! (Note: This review is for Dexteria, rather than Dexteria Jr.)
iTrace—Handwriting for Kids
This application teaches upper case and lower case letters, numbers, name and various words. It supports Zaner-Blosser, Handwriting without Tears and D’Nealian letter styles (we’ll talk about the various letter styles in a future post). The great thing about this app is that you can track each child’s progress, which is great for teachers and therapists who want to monitor performance and include a fun way for kids to practice handwriting skills at home.
Ready to Print
Created by an Occupational Therapist, this app helps children learn pre-writing skills and can be helpful for kids just learning to print their letters. The app includes 13 activities and 8 developmental activities for letters and numbers as well as tracing and free drawing. The app also teaches pre-writing skills in order. What’s great about this app is the ability to change the size of letters. So a parent or therapist can make the letters smaller to challenge their child. Similar to iTrace, you can email progress reports directly from the app!
This app allows you to create customizable word lists and can be used in conjunction with spelling word lists! The app includes stickers, sound effects and fun games that are motivating and rewarding for your child. Parents, teachers or therapists can customize play mode to make each step more challenging. Another great feature is the customizable app settings. You can change the sounds, time limit and even the background for a child who is drawn to certain colors or a child who avoids certain sounds. Common Sense media has stated, “Fantastic, customizable tracing practice with fun rewards.” The app has 275,000 units sold with 110,000 sold to schools.
Dora ABCs Vol 1: Letters
This app is great because it uses familiar Nickelodeon characters! It focuses on literacy skills and associating letters with sounds. The app includes Dora and Boots seeing Tico in his Nutty Plane. As your child helps Tico trace the letters, Dora makes the sounds to help guide literacy and learning.
Ollie’s Handwriting and Phonics
Ollie is an amazing character to help motivate your child to learn fine motor and handwriting skills! The app provides a great sensory experience with it’s chalkboard sounds (the good kind) and colored chalk. What’s great about this app is that it teaches phonics words (like C-A-T) and sight words (the, to, and) with accompanying graphics. Another great feature is the errorless learning, which limits bad habits being formed. This app was designed by an expert in Early Childhood Education and it shows! The app is highly rated and referred to parents by professionals who teach handwriting.
Enhance Learning with A Stylus!
These are just a FEW of the apps available to help your child with their fine motor skills and practice handwriting. While these apps are designed by Occupational Therapists and Teachers, one big limitation is that a child is most likely just using their finger. We suggest using a stylus that trains the proper writing grip while using these apps. That way your child can develop a great pencil grasp, preparing them for the writing and drawing required in schools. By holding it ‘write’ your child can improve their fine motor strength and dexterity for handwriting.