The ultimate handwriting app, iSlate works just like the old fashioned copy books used in all schools many many years ago, and since then by parents and tutors helping students improve their handwriting.
The first good thing is that it is an Australian developed app and users can select the font by selecting the state they live in. There are 2 main options, 'Practice' or 'Copy Book'. In the 'Practice' mode are options for Pre-print, Print Lettering, Pre-cursive and Cursive joins exercises. In the 'Copy book' mode, the choices are Prep-Year 1, Year 2-3, Year 4-5, and Year 6-7.
Practice mode provides the letter or symbol to be copied on a slate, and an optional faint imprint to be traced. The child's effort can be easily deleted for another attempt.
Copy book mode provides letters, words or sentences to be copied on lines just like the old copy books. There is no guidance for starting points or direction, as in other apps such as iWrite Words and Montessori Intoduction to Letters, so it is simply a practice app. It could be really helpful for students who need practice but are reluctant to make the effort with pencil and paper. I would suggest using an ipad pen rather than fingers for this app.
'Intro to letters' practises letter sounds, names and letter formation, including two letter combinations like 'or' and 'ui'. The letters are traced after a demonstaraton which shows where to start and the direction to take. The app is quick and easy to use, but does not use games or rewards for achievement. Teachers can choose the letters or letter combinations to be practised or choose the random option. Students can also record themselves saying the sound and compare it to the app voice.
iWriteWords by Giggle Lab
This is an app for upper and lower case letter and number formation suitable for beginners. The letters are named in a range of languages including English, French, French, Italian, German and Indonesian. The music of the alphabet song can also be played.
Basically it is a tracing exercise guided by a little icon. Configuring options are accessed through the ipad settings button.
School Writing by Demografix
School writing is a comprehensive app but only takes a few minutes to navigate and learn to use, because the navigation buttons are very clear and well positioned on each screen. It covers tracing and writing lower case and upper case letters, numbers and words. The actual writing of letters and words can be replayed or cleared for another practice.
The word option exercise is actually a spelling practice program which has 35 lists, ranging from simple words, through phonics based and dolsch words, to complex year 7 missing letters. Words can be recorded and played back.
There is also a user profile option and the facility to lock configurations which could be very useful in a school situation.
Touch and Write Australia, Victorian Unjoined Cursive, by FizzBrain
This is a beginners app but could be used as a fun way to correct letter formation when a child is starting in the wrong place or writing in the wrong direction. The choices are to tap a button to practice letters numbers or words in lower case or upper case or to choose to compile a word list. The letters are named as they are completed and words are spelt out and read.
The basic task is to trace the letters following a little green monster which eats cupcakes on the letter with appropriate sound effects. The letter shakes and refuses to show the writing if the child does not complete it correctly. The monster and the cup cakes can be removed and there are many amusing back grounds and writing tools to choose from. If the letters could be sounded out instead of named, 'Touch and Write Australia could also be used as a very amusing spelling or reading word practice game.
The directions on this app are excellent with several screens of simple instructions eliminating guesswork and trial and error for first time users.
English Cursive Letters Practice, Full Screen by Brainstop
English Cursive Letters is a letter, word and sentence tracing app with all the option buttons on the main screen.
Letters appear in alphabetical order one by one, and words in order of the first letter. There is a 'shuffle' button which randomises the order. All letters and words are written on a lined screen and there is an erase button to quickly clear the screen. and a colour button to select the colour of the writing.
Letters have arrows and numbers to show the correct starting point and direction but there is no feedback about the accuracy of the writing. There does not appear to be any way to choose the letters, words or sentences that appear when the arrow for the next letter, word or sentence is touched.
Learn English Alphabet Writing by WagMob
Five buttons make learn English Alphabet Writing an easy handwriting app to use. The buttons offer options for sound, which names the letter, picture, which displays and image starting with the letter, pencil, colour, and eraser. The setting button also allows for changing the thickness of the stroke. The writing task is very similar to that in English Cursive Letters Practice, except that single letters only are included and there is the option of choosing the letter to be practised. The letters are named only if the sound button is touched. This is a good app when a child needs practice writing a particular letter.
Little Writer Pro
By Innovative Apps
The tracing app for letters, numbers, shapes and words. This is a simple to use, but attractive, app with many options for changes and additions. The letters can be sounded as well as named. The child must trace according to the visual prompts to proceed. There are optional voiced rewards and music. I have a slight problem with the pronunciation of the letter'q' which sounds like 'k', but the sounds can be customized to overcome problems like this.
Writing Wizard - Kids Learn to Write Letters and Words
Cursive Writing Wizard - Trace letters and Words
Both apps operate in the same way and are probably the most colourful of the tracing apps, with a little play time when each letter or word is completed. There are several parameters to customize the tracing experience, like allowing stops between points and difficulty. Letters are named and sounded. Word lists can be added, with voice recording. The child can not proceed if the tracing is incomplete or off track.
My only complaint is that the letter 'b' is written in a way that will probably be considered incorrect by teachers.