Bottom Line: A wonderful handwriting app for letters and numbers allows unlimited user profiles. Each letter or number is accompanied by a picture for the initial sound, pictures within the letter or number, six different practice formats and a story relating to the pictures that describes how to write it. This must-have app utilizes the sky, grass and dirt visual for primary writing lines and provides adults with saved visuals of completed writings.
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There is no doubt about it, TrishCo LLC's StartDOT Handwriting receives five stars, and it is a Top Pick. This app provides a wide range of practice formats, with many visuals and stories to accompany each letter. Children will be engaged in learning how to write letters and practicing them in a variety of ways. An unlimited number of user profiles can be established. The ability to add users can be turned off in settings, so a child cannot create new profiles on their own.
Settings can be changed between Alphabetic and Kinesthetic learning order. Alphabetic allows a child to move the letters and numbers about to complete any that are desired. This setting is beneficial for teaching childen specific letters for daily words, such as a child's name. Kinesthestic provides practice in a developmental way, moving through groups of letters that have similar writing strokes. The groups each have a name and similar stories and visuals. A child must complete the given letter before moving on to the next. The progress tracking on the app states the letter the child is currently working on in each learning order.
The use of visuals is great in this app. Each letter starts with a picture that includes the initial sound of the letter. For numbers, the specific number of objects are shown. A walkthrough is provided for each letter and number, showing how to write it using pictures and a story. A child is told to start at a certain picture and then a story is told that moves the writing past all of the pictures before completing the letter. The stories are a great way for a child to remember how to write. I really liked that on letters such as "b" and "h," the app uses a trampoline to help the child "bounce" back up to finish the letter and visualize the importance of not picking up the pencil. The stories and pictures help young children and users with special needs to remember the steps.
A child works through four different practices before mastering the letter. The first practice allows the user to trace the letter or number given. The second takes away the outline of the number or letter and only provides the starting point and the pictures. Once a child has completed the writing with only pictures, the background colors for sky, grass and dirt are added in behind the pictures. Many children learn to write based on these natural colors, and I love that the app incorporated those. In the fourth practice, the pictures are taken away and the child writes with only the background colors and a starting point available. Each of the four practices are saved at the bottom. A child can go back to any of the pages for more practice. The developer also incorporated rainbow writing into the app, which will engage a child to write more. Users can return to any of the pages and choose a different color from the color wheel to use. The little writer will be able to write with a new color without erasing the first color. This is a wonderful way to show growth. Since these learning pages are saved, an adult could easily flip through to see just how a child is writing each letter and number.
There are two more ways to practice with each letter and number. In the top right hand corner of each screen, there is a piece of paper icon. Clicking on this allows a child to practice writing on virtual strips of writing paper. This option is unique among handwriting apps, as it allows the child to move from writing on an iPad screen to the correct size for writing on paper. Many handwriting apps do not provide this change in size. The handwriting paper practice is provided with the sky, grass and dirt background and without it. Each have dots for the starting points.
StartDOT Handwriting would be a great beginning handwriting app for children three years of age and up. Children six and above with special needs, struggling with letters and numbers, would benefit from the visuals of this app also. A wide error range is allowed, but it is not enough for the child to learn writing in an incorrect way. If a child is making the letter incorrectly, he hears a short sound and the line disappears. If incorrect responses are repeated, a demonstration of that stroke is given and the child is allowed to trace it. There are two settings that can be changed to provide more or less of a challenge to users: green reminder dots can be used or turned off, and the story box can be set to auto-open or not. Turning off these two settings allows an adult to see how a child is progressing in becoming independent with writing.
StartDOT Handwriting is my new favorite handwriting app. It provides great practice in a meaningful way for children. The four different mandatory practices, along with the two virtual handwriting papers, allow for repeated practice that a child is more likely to remember. I highly recommend this app for any child beginning to write, along with children with special needs who are struggling to write letters and numbers.