Handwriting Apps for OT’s

Some of the first apps I explored with students included apps that support handwriting. It has been a high interest for a while to provided a visual, video model of letter formation for individuals with ASD. Allowing students with Autism among others a method of visually seeing and reviewing the sequence of letter formation would support their learning style in the acquistion of  mechanical writing.

Here are my favorite apps that support letter formation development and that are popular with therapists, teachers and students:

iWrite Words

iWrite Words

Focused on phonetic awareness, letter formation, letter  and word recognition, iWrite Words app has a beautiful interface, is interactive and provide explicit instruction on the sequence of letter formation. Numbers guide the student in the correct motor sequence to form the letter. When the  letter is completely written it generates a floating  letter that isto be flung away at the bottom of the screen before another letter to be worked on is generated. Very interactive!

iWrite Words is a favorite of staff for its instructional qualities, but more importantly a favorite of students.

Alphabet Tracing

Alphabet Tracing is a free app that also supports letter and number formation using a moving train moving in the direction of correct letter or number production.

Early childhood as well as kindergarten students were motivated to create letters using Alphabet Tracing app on an iPad. The visual sequence provided, along with its interactive – hands on practice helped students  recall the appropriate sequence to form a letter. Providing them auditory cues to the sequence further reinforced appropriate skill development.

ABC Pocket Phonics 

Another favorite, ABC Pocket Phonics provides phonics development, letter formation and word games. It is interactive and motivates  students who are learning early literacy skills.

Both ABC PocketPhonics and iWriteWords are available in lite versions  meaning they are free,  partial versions of the software allowing trial to determine if they provide the type of intervention needed.

Do you have any favorite handwriting apps? Please share!


About Carol Leynse Harpold, MS, OTR/L, SCLV, ATP, CATIS

OTR/L with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics, school based therapy and adult rehabilitation. Masters of Science in Adaptive Education/Assistive Technology with 20 years experience in AT in education of elementary, middle school, secondary, post secondary students and work environments for adult clients. A RESNA Assistive Technology Practitioner with ACVREP CATIS credentials, AOTA Specialty Certification in Low Vision, USC Davis Executive Certificate in Home Modifications, servicing adults and students with disabilities in employment, education, and home environments. A 2020 graduate of the University of Alabama Birmingham Low Vision Certification Program.
This entry was posted in App Reviews, Apps for OT's, Apps for Special Needs, AT for Handwriting, Fine Motor Development, Handwriting, iPad, iPod, Letter Formation, Occupational Therapy, Phonics, Special education and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Handwriting Apps for OT’s

  1. Lori says:

    Are there any handwriting apps for imitation or tracing pre-writing lines (vertical, horizontal, plus, diagonal, circle)?


    • Lori,
      I did some searching for such apps and from my initial search they seem pretty limited! There are some preschool apps that include basic shapes such as:
      Geometry (Mathomatix) – free that has a game “Say Cheese” that practices making basic shapes as circle, square, triangle and rectangle.
      Lets Make Shapes lite – free that works on tracing shapes and stating the name and color used.
      Pattern Painting – from Tickle Tap Toddlers (1.99) which I have not used but has not gotten great ratings.

      Other possibiities for tracing to consider are:
      Whizzy Kids – (free) – has a Finger Mazes game that kids trace horizontal lines with graded degrees of difficulty. Not the developmental sequence of writing, but good visual motor skill development for kids.

      Sky Write – (free) – this is a fabulous app with an airplane that writes where you draw on the screen with an air stream (you can size this and do other customizations). The air stream stays on the screen for a period of time until it fades or you erase. You could model the shape on Sky Write and have the student trace around or over it or I believe change the color of the air stream. It is a really an incrediblly cool app.

      Doodle Buddy – (free) is a drawing program that allows you to do many things within their drawing program:
      Use stamps or stencils to make a shape in Doodle Buddy
      Draw the shape and have the student trace over it with another color in Doodle Buddy
      Draw the shape and have them erase the shape in Doodle Buddy
      You can also take a picture of a shape or line drawing worksheet your iPad2 or iPod Touch camera and bring it into Doodle Buddy as a picture and have them trace over the shape or line drawing using the drawing tools the worksheet from Hands at Work or Play manual would work great. You could also find one of the myriad of on line worksheets of basic shapes, bring them up via the internet on your idevice, take a screen shot (press home and power off button simultaneously) of the online worksheet and have the students trace the now electronic worksheet in Doodle Buddy using the colored marker/crayons. You could insert arrows for cues of where to start. You won’t have the verbal feedback but you will have a mobile, electronic workbook available to you. There are endless things you can do with the camera and in Doodle Buddy.

      If you have a chance to try any of the apps or tracing activities let us know how it works! If you find any other apps please share!
      Thanks for visiting!

    • andra says:

      There are many dot-to-dot free apps some of them basic, some of them more advanced.
      Hope this is a good alternative for what you’re looking for.

  2. Gloria says:

    The app “Alphabet Tracing” has a very non-conventional way of making several letters, especially M and N. With many one-time autistic learners, I would not recommend using this app. They would learn an ergonomically incorrect way to make several letters. If you have a way to communicate with the developer to make that change, it is otherwise a nice app.

    • Gloria,
      Thank you for your feedback.There many non-conventional methods of writing letters out there and none of the letter tracing/letter formation apps I have seen use the method of grouping letters like Handwriting with out Tears, so that you are not having to learn 26 letters. My favorite apps are i Write Word and the Write it activity in Dexteria. Both also give great visual feedforward and feedback for letter formation. Dexteria also adheres the starting at approximately 2:00 for letters a, c, o for consistency of formation, unfortunately they are not grouped as such. Dexteria also provides the ability to work on any of the letters rather than having to go through the whole alphabet. They also have appropriate construction of number 4 and 5!.
      Thank you for pointing that out. Maybe it is time to create an app that follows learning letters by groups!


  3. Christina Linn says:

    I see it’s been several months since this posting, but I found a handwriting app that I absolutely LOVE (as do almost all of my kids, even those that are still working on prewriting). It’s Letter School (2.99)… it’s very animated. My favorite part is there is a setting to work on the Handwriting Without Tears formation of letters (they don’t group them like we would, but it’s still nice); the alternatives are D’Nealian or Zaner-Bloser. I’ve also been using the app Injini Lite for tracing vertical and horizontal lines. Unfortunately the full version costs $30; my guess is they’d do more prewriting shapes.

    • Christina,
      Thank you for your comment. I work with older students so I don’t use the handwriting apps that frequently, but I do know that is one of their favorite apps also as it allows chosing the style of letter formation you can use to reinforce what is being taught in the classroom. The animations are also so engaging for kids. I agree – what a fabulous app!

      If you are looking for a pre-writing app, check out Ready to Print, which was reviewed previously http://wp.me/p1w0d0-uj . Ready to Print was created by an OT and has some great developmental pre-writing activities that are also customizable. Diane Reid has done a great job with this app and continues to upgrade it! It is also very reasonable when compared with the cost of the app you referred to!

      Thank you again for visiting and sharing!

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