In the ever changing, fluid world of apps, it is challenging to keep up with all the new innovations that are taking place daily, if not hourly. The same holds true for apps that are used by occupational therapists to boost handwriting, fine motor control, visual perception, sensory regulation, and organization. In this space I will present those apps that I have used and found beneficial and worthwhile to utilize during therapy sessions, and at home.
I have recently discovered and am impressed with ‘Ready to Print’. As indicated on the app’s web page, “Ready to Print is a pre-writing app that was developed by an occupational therapist with more than 20 years of experience working with children.” It was designed to help children progresses through pre-writing skills in a developmentally appropriate order, so that they can master the skills necessary for writing.
As you can see from the screenshot, the app is divided into eight categories that progressively build upon the developmental skills required for pre-writing and handwriting. The first two games, Touch and Ordered Touch, focus on finger individuation and sequencing, requiring the child to touch in the order that will be required when beginning to form letters.
Matching. In this activity the child matches basic shapes. Like all the other activities it can be easily customised to match the child’s skill level by changing how many items have to be matched, as well as the size of the shapes. This activity facilitates visual tracking, scanning, and visual motor skills, all of which are required when learning how to write and recognize letters.
The next two games, Paths and Shapes, have the child trace a line or shape within set boundaries. They both tap into visual tracking and visual fine motor skills. As children progress and refine their skills, the width of the paths can be adjusted.
In Connect the Dots the child is asked to draw one of ten different shapes, from simple to more complex. The app encourages proper formation of the shapes , which will eventually carryover into good practice habits when learning to write letters.
The Pinching game sharpens fine motor skills. The ability to pinch is helpful when developing a grasp for any writing implement. Two objects are presented which the child has to bring together using his/her thumb and any other finger on the preferred hand. The spacing between the objects can be adjusted for various hand sizes.
Having progressed through all the other developmental levels, we finally arrive at Letters, where children learn and practice letter formation. In this section the child is asked to copy letters first by following prompts on the right side of the screen, and then immediately practice freehand in a blank space on the left side of the screen. This is a wonderful feature missing from most other handwriting apps that I have used. This section allows you to work on capitals, lowercase letters, numbers, or a combination of upper and lower case letters.
Finally there is a section for free drawing that encourages creative and artistic expression with a variety of colors to choose from.
Overall, this is a marvelous app that is rich in many different areas. It provides a child with the developmental activities required to build up underlying skills to support handwriting, as well as an opportunity to learn and practice handwriting in a fun way, all in one app. While no app should be a substitute for using a marker, crayon, chalk, pencil, or pen to write, this app is good to add on your tablet, to be used with a finger or a stylus (higher level). The ability to customize each level to match each child’s progress is a winning feature. I encourage you to log on and create a user account so you can track your children’s progress.
This app is available on Apple’s app store, Google Play, and for the Kindle fire.
I look forward to your feedback. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org