Before I met my daughter I didn't believe that children would just naturally learn to grasp a writing implement properly and on their own. I mean, Mikey and I have spent A LOT of time working to develop a "tripod" grasp and to press the pencil/marker/crayon with the right amount of pressure to make a mark on paper. But here she is, 2.5 years old, grabbing and scribbling with perfect hand "posture." And here we are with Mikey, 4.5 years old, still practicing daily to figure it out.
Every day I offer dotted letters, numbers, or shapes for him to trace during "homework" time. Every day I remind him to "please us tripod grasp" instead of his fisted grab. It is perpetual, important, and sometimes frustrating. Enter technology. When my husband saw one of Mikey's friends drawing on an iPad with a stylus he suggested that we look into something like it for Mikey. I found a short and informative list on Urth Mama and chose "Letter School" as a good place to start. What I discovered was an app that seems to have been designed for Preschool Engineers!
Learning to write each letter follows a "Tap, Trace, Write" pattern. Here is how it works:
- child chooses a letter or number
- child taps the starting point for each stroke needed to write the letter, after tapping the correct starting point something cool happens - for example, a hook followed by a chain flows along the line of the stroke
- when each tap has been completed and a chain reaches across each line of the letter then the chain moves like a conveyor belt
- following the same pattern as tapping, the child traces each stroke of the letter
- as the child traces the line something cool happens to highlight their path, for example, grass grows along the stroke line
- when each stroke has been traced and the letter is grown over with grass, a lawn mower comes to mow it!!
- this is the trickiest part of the game. the child has to write freehand. the starting points and tracing lines appear briefly before disappearing.
- the child writes, freehand, the letter, which appears as a chalk line.
There are a variety of mechanically interesting animations that appear over the course of the game. Train tracks and a train, hooks and chains, lawn and lawn mower, marble run and rolling marble, and the list goes on.
Download Letter School for iPad here:
Or Download Letter School for iPhone here: