Apps for Pre-Writing Skill Development

A comment on this blog questioned if there were apps that supported early imitation of lines and shapes also known as pre-writing skills.  My search (which could easily have missing  apps)  found that such apps  seem to be in limited supply! Most of the apps focus on practicing letters and numbers and not what OT’s consider the prerequisites to letter formation.

Apps that provide some of practice in making or tracing basic shapes or pre-writing skills include:

Geometry (Mathomatix) – (free) app that has a game “Say Cheese” that practices making basic shapes as circle, square, triangle and rectangle. It provides feedback on student performance giving auditory feedback when you are not successful. It does not provide cues to directions for tracking and I found the triangle to be somewhat hard. This app does provide additional shape matching games that I believe would be motivating for students.

Let’s Make Shapes lite – (free) this app practices tracing over lines for basic shapes. There are lines to trace but limited visual cues of direction of drawing is provided. Using the lite version had some limitations but was great to be able to trial the app. This app appeared to have possibilities despite the lack of visual cues given for direction of drawing. Worth trialing.

Pattern Painter – from Tickle Tap Toddlers (1.99). This app is primarily for practicing drawing shapes. I did not trial this app. Rating in iTunes were a 2 of 5 which made me reluctant to purchase and trial the app.

Kandy Fish– (.99) Also has a game that traces shapes using a cute ocean with fish theme. Made only for iPad, I did not trial this app however it looks appealing for young children.

Other possibilities for tracing to consider are:

Whizzy Kids – (free) The Finger Mazes  that is one among other games provided in Whizzy Kids app. Students trace horizontal lines with graded degrees of difficulty in the Finger Maze game. It does not provide the tasks of developmental sequence of writing, but good visual motor skill development for kids.

SkyWrite – (free) – this is a fabulous app with an airplane that flies and draws 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 it. You could model drawing shapes and basic lines on Sky Write and have the student trace around or over it with another color of the air stream. It is a really an incredibly cool app that students enjoy.

Doodle Buddy – (free) is a must have drawing program that allows you many tools within its drawing program. Here are a few things you could do to work on pre-writing skills using Doodle Buddy:

  • Use stamps or stencils for a student or yourself to make a shape in Doodle Buddy app.
  • Draw the shape and have the student trace over it with another color in Doodle Buddy.
  • Draw a shape or beginning lines using a wider line, then have the student use a thinner line to draw on top of the wider line and within the line.
  • Draw a shape in Doodle Buddy and have them erase the shape with the eraser tools.
  • 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. Have the students trace over the shape or line drawing using the drawing tools in Doodle Buddy.
  • Locate an on-line worksheets of basic shapes or lines. With  the worksheet open  on your iDevice, take a screen shot (press home and power off button simultaneously) of the online worksheet. A picture of the worksheet will be placed in your Photo Album. The picture can be opened in Doodle Buddy and available to be traced on  in Doodle Buddy using the colored marker/crayons. You could insert arrows for cues of where to start and what direction to draw.

You won’t have the verbal feedback but you will have a mobile, electronic worksheet(s)  available to you. There are endless things you can do with the camera and tools in Doodle Buddy.

If you have a chance to try any of the apps or tracing activities let us know how it works! If anyone  find any other 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, iPad, iPod, Pre-writing, Special education and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Apps for Pre-Writing Skill Development

  1. Margaret says:

    I agree that there is not much out there for prewriting skills. We have published a Visual Motor Workbook that is available in electronic format which focuses on prewirting skills and strokes. If you open the pdf in free PDF Notes for the iPad you can mark up any PDF and erase when done. You could use free PDF notes with any pdf or worksheet that you scan in to essentially create your own app for prewriting skills. You can read exactly how to do this in this article – Transforming EBooks to Use on Your iPad

    • Margaret,
      Thank you for your comment. Sounds like you have been doing this for a while! Great article and method of using a mobile device.
      Recently after exploring some of the many note taking tools I realized how you could use these tools for modifying or accessing them on the iPad. Similiar to your idea of transforming Ebooks, you can use your iPad to access worksheets and complete them on your iPad2. It really struck me how many ways you can use the iPad2, for modifications, communications, access, storytelling…. the list goes on! I will blog soon on some apps I have been using for classroom access.
      Thank you for sharing!

  2. Molly Shannon says:

    Injini does have Pre-writing strokes, but I cannot afford the full version (49.99), but the Lite version is very good and extremely popular!

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