Get Your Kid’s Writing Right with the Alphabet Tracing App

This post is especially for all the occupational therapists (OTs) out there.  I promised a friend’s OT friend that for this week, SPeak App will review an OT iOS application.  We have the perfect one right here: Alphabet TracingYour kid client will enjoy tracing letters on your iDevice when you use this app.  Each big letter and number:

  • is drawn in pale blue on the screen
  • has small numbers indicating which stroke to make first
  • has arrows pointing to what direction the stroke must be made

To spice up the app, the developers included strings of trains and caterpillars that run down each stroke to show the child where to move his/her finger to.

The app’s menu bar (located on top of the screen), contains:

  • Settings: change the stroke color, disable/enable sound, show a blank page, help menu
  • Uppercase letters option
  • Lowercase letters option
  • Numbers option
  • Complete Erase option
  • Rewind and Forward arrow buttons

Hold your iPhone / iPod Touch in portrait mode and it shows the character alone (1.5 inches in height for uppercase letters, a little less than 1 inch for lowercase ones).  Tilt to landscape mode and the character is placed on the iPhone / iPod Touch’s right half of the screen while the left half shows a picture that starts with the letter shown or a set of pictures that represent number characters.

The iPad version offers more opportunities to practice tracing.  Whether held on landscape or portrait mode, each page shows the actual letter for tracing (complete with step numbers and arrows), two similar letters in dashed style for more tracing practice, and the corresponding picture.

Since I am not an occupational therapist and could only but describe what the app is capable of, I turned to my OT friends at the clinic who were only too happy to take on Alphabet Tracing and offer their insights.

What they love about this app:

  • visible: nice, big characters
  • customizable: pencil and letter line sizes, even tracing marks’ colors can be adjusted according to one’s preferences
  • associated with pictures: comes with a corresponding picture to help in concept building
  • responsive to user’s fingerstrokes: one does not need to be able to trace on the letter’s lines alone.  There’s room for tracing errors.  Technically one can make a mark anywhere on the screen.
  • has a blank page option: allows the child to practice writing the characters without tracing

What could be added to this app to enhance usability at work:

  • guide lines: rather like the ones we find on elementary school pad paper.  Even lines on the top and bottom of each character would have sufficed, they said, just so to define the borders of the writing area.
  • options on where strokes can start: my OT buds noticed that most of the app’s strokes started from the top of the page, which involved lifting one’s finger off the screen to start another stroke when continuing the present stroke and progressing in an upward fashion would have been functional enough.  Letters in question: E  M  N  V  W.  The stroke directions of the rest of the characters garnered their approval. But then again, as the saying goes, different strokes for different folks… pun intended.
  • overlapping train/caterpillar movement: may visually confuse the child and compromise ability to follow the stroke’s direction

From my end, what I like about this app is that one can opt for it to voice out the letter/number being shown.  The child can also tap on the picture and it says out the picture’s name.  Oh yeah, the moving caterpillar’s really cute =)

App’s free, folks!  We will always find uses for free, well-made apps.

Price: FREE
Weight: 7.9 MB
Updated: 7 July 2010
Version: 1.1
Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad.  Needs iOS 3.0 up
Seller: Oncilla Technologies

Target Population: young kids especially those who are prepping for writing

Awesome if you want to work on:

  • writing
  • visual attention
  • visual association
  • visual recognition
  • concept building

Customer Ratings (iTunes): 3.5 out of 5 smileys
SPeak App says: 3.5 out of 5 smileys

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