Learn to Write with Mr Pencil stylus and app created by Leap Frog is an emergent writing app featuring tracing lines, shapes and letters using the Leap Frog stylus for ages 3-6 years. The Mr. Pencil stylus is available online as well as in stores where Leap Frog toys are sold. Available online from Amazon, LeapFrog Learn to Write with Mr. Pencil Stylus & Writing App (works with iPhone 4/4s/5, iPod touch 4G & iPad) costs 9.49 which unlocks activities in the Learn to Write Mr. Pencil app. Unfortunately only four different areas are provided with purchase of the stylus, with an in app purchase of 14.00 to unlock all of the 24 activities, making it a very pricey app and stylus.
Purchase of the stylus, a chunky, hexagon stylus, unlocks four activities which features practicing basic shapes starting with single lines to curved lines and progressing to circular shapes, squares and rectangles and associated letters and numbers that utilize those strokes. The shapes, letters and numbers presented provide a dot where to start and animation with direction of the stroke requested in a step by step method for all lines required. Three trials of the shape or letter/number are provided to practice.
Tracing the shape, letter or number allows some error however if the stroke goes entirely off the line, animation is provided to start again with the stroke. Positive prompts are provided to encourage trying again or to complete the task.
Although the app provides quite a bit of verbiage in the app and initial explanation would not hold the attention of most 3-4 year olds, it does provide rewards and interactions within the app encouraging users to explore in each activity.
Learn to write provides a developmental approach to shapes and letter formation starting with straight lines and advancing to more complex shapes and letters. No options for changing line sizes are offered within the app which provides ball and stick instruction to the letter formation. Due to the in app purchase, I did not have a change to trial the remainder of the letters, numbers (1-20) and remaining shapes.
Initial instruction in the use of the stylus during introduction of the app promoted use of a mature pencil grasp. The hexagon shaped stylus was comfortable in my hand, not too heavy, but which may be quick large for a toddlers small hand. Despite its size, the slight curve to the stylus did have a balanced feel to it.
Three users can be entered to play Learn to Write with the ability to modify users within a menu. Learn to Write with Mr. Pencil has some positive features however the in app cost of $14.00 is high for what few options are available. Other apps such as Ready to Print, Shelby’s Quest provide many more features to grade the task for emergent writers. Other styluses also may fit young writers hands better than the Mr. Pencil.
Have you used the Learn to Write with Mr. Pencil stylus or app? What has been your experience?