Best Apps for Handwriting

Handwriting is an essential skill for early childhood development. Learning to hold a pencil or marker and then construct meaningful lines is a process that leads to learning letter and number formation.


Read our recommendations for apps that help with handwriting and other skills associated with reading development.


Many of the following apps work not only for handwriting, but also for other skills associated with reading development. Learning to name letters, form them correctly, and associate the correct sound with the letter are all processes developed during the pre-reading stage of development. Try out these apps to develop early handwriting skills. If your child is able to hold a pencil, try a stylus for easier transfer of the skill from the iPad to paper.


abc PocketPhonics: letter sounds & writing + first words

abc PocketPhonics app icon

abc PocketPhonics: letter sounds & writing + first words brings several important language skills together into one app. In abc PocketPhonics, children learn to recognize letters, hear letter sounds, form letters by tracing, and use the letter sounds to build words. Parents are able to create multiple users, control the font and letter types, choose the letters their child will work on, and determine how skillful the writing needs to be. The app introduces letters in small groups and works on each individual letter before moving on to the next group of letters. As each letter is introduced, the app gives the letter sound and tells your child to repeat it. Encourage your child to say the sound out loud as they play the app. Parents can opt into a weekly email that provides an update on your child’s progress. The app tracks the user’s answers and does not advance them without first demonstrating mastery of the basics. This app is appropriate for children ages 4-6 and costs $6.99.


LetterSchool- learn to write letters and numbers

letter school

LetterSchool learn to write letters and numbers is another best app to add to your child’s collection of letter and number writing experiences. Letter School clearly introduces each letter, sound, or number (1-9) with an additional 3 levels of interaction that supports your child from tracing a line to forming the letter all on their own. A variety of animations keep the content fresh and interesting for kids. Use bubbles or railroad tracks to trace over the lines. The positive, motivational feedback encourages your child and will keep them wanting to use this app! Check out the lite version to try out some of the content for free. The app is appropriate for children starting to use crayons and markers for the tracing portion of the app and should last up through mastery of the letters, approximately ages 3-5. The app costs $4.99.


iTrace – handwriting for kid


iTrace – handwriting for kids provides a simple approach to practicing handwriting. The main menu offers clean choices of practice with uppercase letters, lowercase letters, or numbers. In addition, there is word section that has an area to practice writing your child’s name, thematic words, or a customizable word list. The app has a few distinctive features, such as left-hand friendly modeling and individual tracking, and it supports multiple users.


Related Blog Post:
Does My Child Still Need to Learn Handwriting? (Demme Learning)


Download the most popular guide to finding and using educational apps for kids!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Pre-Reading Skills: Beyond Letters and Sounds

Preschool and Kindergarten students learn to identify letters when learning how to read.

Preschool and Kindergarten students (ages 4 to 6) learn to identify letters when learning how to read. It is also valuable for children at this age to practice rhyming, identifying letter sounds, segmenting words into individual sounds, and identifying syllables in words to support and strengthen their beginning reading skills.


Read with Doc McStuffins: Letters and Sounds


This app offers five pre-reading activities for preschoolers. It’s much more than an app to practice letters. The app focuses on the following skills: tracing and matching lower and upper case letters, recognizing letters and letter sounds, listening and matching rhymes, determining syllables, and hearing beginning, middle and ending sounds in words. The activities are expertly created and simulate lessons in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. The app will grow with your child as he learns the letters and gains reading skills. The animation and characters in this app come to life (no surprise from Disney) to motivate your child and help him focus on learning the skills. KinderTown is impressed with the quality of the content provided by the app. Our child testers enjoyed the balance of rewarding activities with the learning games. This app ranks at the top as one of the best we’ve seen for preschoolers.


Parents, watch your preschooler interact with the app and then simulate the activities in the real world with your child for extra practice. For example, the app uses common words to determine the number of syllables in a word. Ask your child questions like, “How many syllables do you hear in the word macaroni?” “How many syllables are in the word banana?” To imitate the rhyming games, ask your child, “Which word rhymes with cat, bat, or wagon?”


Check out the Power Pack: Letters and Sounds: Ages 5-6 for more tips about how to effectively use apps to help your child learn pre-reading skills, as well as hands-on activities you can do with your child.


Do you have a kindergarten or budding learner who investigating letters and sounds? This Power Pack is for you!

Tags: , , , , , , ,

KinderTown’s Top 14 of 2014

KinderTown transforms mobile devices into powerful teaching tools by finding and organizing the best educational apps for kids ages 3-8 years old.


Read KinderTown's reviews of their favorite educational apps from 2014.

Our mission is to improve early childhood education by empowering parents with the tools to be better teachers. We work hard to find the best educational apps for children. Each app we select for KinderTown has been tested and reviewed by educators, parents, and most importantly, children. Not all (or even most) of the apps meet our high standards. We take many factors into account including educational value, ease of use, engagement value, design features, artwork, cost, and shelf life. It’s through this process that we believe we can help parents use their iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches to teach their children anything.

Read KinderTown's reviews of their favorite educational apps from 2014.

1. Reading – Learn with Homer

Learn with Homer is a full “Learn to Read” series of lessons for kids. The app features letter sound instruction, sight word introduction, read aloud stories, and a mixed review of concepts presented. The app does a nice job of mixing reading instruction, a review of previously-taught concepts and the reading aloud of real books, which are all key components to learning to read. The developers of Learn with Homer conducted research using their app on children who were beginning to read, and showed that the use of the app 15 minutes a day led to an increase in their beginning reading skills. Learn with Homer is free to download but does include in-app purchases to buy additional lesson content.

2. Math – Marble Math Jr.

Marble Math Junior is an excellent example of how to merge quality game design with significant educational value. This app moves kids through the sequence of understanding the question, tapping into knowledge to form an answer, and creating a strategy for navigating the gameplay maze. Getting answers wrong is not an issue here, where it’s highly motivating to learn through trial and error, too. Take time to read the information pages to learn about all the features and customize the problems and levels. One of the most engaging, educational math apps we have played to date.

3. Spelling – Rocket Speller Plus

Rocket Speller offers children an engaging space scene in which to practice spelling. The app presents words to students and they must reconstruct the word. To reinforce vocabulary development, each word is presented with a picture. Rocket Speller has the option to have the word displayed (visual hints) so students are reconstructing the word in order to continually practice spelling it, building visual memory of the letters. Children like how getting a few correct answers leads to different choices for designing their own rocket ship and eventually blasting it off into space. Rocket Speller has five different levels that provide options for visual hints and audible hints, as well as smart technology that can determine when a child is having difficulty in order to provide what is called Adaptive Assistance.

4. Social Studies – Barefoot World Atlas

Barefoot World Atlas will completely mesmerize all members of your family. Open to a globe dotted with images that just beg to be tapped. Read and listen to fun facts by touching the images on the screen. Looking for more depth? Search by country and region to learn facts that give you a look into the lives of people and places around the world. This app is completely worth the price of $4.99 and will be appreciated by both the adults and children ages 4-8. Find a time to sit with your child and enjoy Barefoot World Atlas together.

5. Science – Human Body

The Human Body is an app made for exploring and asking questions. There is animation to accompany the six different body systems. Encourage and answer your child’s questions while exploring, and they will direct their own learning. Tap different parts of the brain, and an animation pops up depicting what that area of the brain controls. The app is not narrated, so parents need to provide the support for learning. In addition, the app offers a parent section and an option to set up multiple profiles for different children. Children can record questions while using the app, and parents can respond to them. Tinybop has even made a helpful parent guide to accompany the app. We highly recommend downloading it and using it with your child. It’s perfect for answering the tough questions your child may ask about their body. This app is brilliantly designed for scientific discovery.

6. Logic – ThinkRolls

In Thinkrolls, rolling character balls take the stage as your child solves increasingly complex problems to allow their character to progress through the maze. There are two levels of game play, easy and hard. Easy is recommended for children 3-5, and hard for children ages 5-8. KinderTown recommends that all children begin at the easy level to understand the goals of the puzzles. Your child does not have to spend a long time at this level to be ready to move to the harder levels, but this will set them up for success. A blinking “redo” symbol flashes in the corner to assist your child when they are stuck and unable to complete the challenge. The challenge is then reset with the maze. The challenges in the mazes come in the form of obstacles. Some unique obstacles include fire blocks, ice blocks, balloons, and KinderTown’s favorite, the jelly block. The jelly block allows your character to jump up from one area to another. Another child tester favorite was the fire block. Watch out! If your character rolls into the fire block, it will turn black and burnt, which our child testers loved! However, the goal is to not become burnt. Children eventually solved the puzzles after experiencing the burnt characters. As the levels progress, children have to use visualization skills to predict the cause and effect of several “moves” in the puzzle. Concepts about physics and chemistry are sprinkled along the way when children must make decisions about the moving gear box, figure out how to make the balloon pop and move the ice to quench the fire. The app offers an amazing amount of content in the 90 levels of easy game play and 90 levels of hard game play. Be sure to read the Chapter descriptions in the settings section for parents in order to have a complete understanding of all the challenges presented in each level or chapter. Thinkrolls is a truly unique app priced at $2.99, available for iPhone and iPad, and is recommended for children ages 3-7

7. Story Creation – Draw and Tell

Draw and Tell brings the best features of drawing apps into one fabulous art experience. Choose from a blank page, your photos, or one of the app’s backgrounds, and start creating. Tools like crayons, stickers, paint and erasers are used while this app records your child singing, talking, and moving stickers all over the screen. Not feeling up to creating your own picture? Try out the variety of coloring pages where you get to drop paint into the lines to create a vibrant scene. The real gem is the final product where your child’s voice and artistic creation are made into a personal movie.

8. Coding – Kodable

Kodable is an introduction to coding for young children. When children use the app, they are coding fuzz balls to move around the screen. The app starts off with very simple mazes for the fuzz balls to complete, and progress as your child completes the puzzles. The children we tested this app on loved to earn color changes for the puff ball by successfully completing puzzles. Kodable is for kids ages 5-8 and is free, but does include in-app purchases to unlock additional levels. With the free version there are 45 levels with interactive tutorials. Kodable Pro offers all of the in-app purchases in one app for 6.99 and includes interactive tutorials and learning guides. Check out their website for more information on their line of apps. Kodable also offers another feature called Kodable Sync, which is designed for classrooms in order to accommodate multiple students.

9. Visual Memory – Dexteria Dots 2

KinderTown loves the creative approach to numbers that Dexteria Dots provides. Dexteria Dots designed a game in which players are developing visual tracking, visual memory and visual motor planning skills through manipulating different sized dots within the app. While playing with the dots, children are learning math concepts such as comparing numbers, counting, adding and subtracting. In addition, fine motor skills are used to slice and connect the dots on the screen. The unique design relates the size of the dots to the numeric value. For example, a 4-dot has twice the diameter of a 2-dot. There are two different games inside Dexteria Dots 2, Make Equal Dots and Compare Dots. In the Make Equal Dots Game, children are challenged to use all the dots to make two equal dots. In the Compare Dots game children combine dots to see which side of the screen is larger. As the games advance, the numeric representation on the dots disappears, developing visual memory and discrepancy. The app is $1.99 and appropriate for children learning addition and subtraction concepts who are approximately 4-8.

10. Social Emotional – Daniel Tiger Grr-ific Feelings

Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings provides an app in which kids can learn about different types of feelings while playing and singing with Daniel Tiger. Our kid testers loved the trolley game in which children navigate the trolley to 12 different games. Each game has a specific feeling to complete an activity, such as feeling frustrated and having to find a lost toy, or feeling happy and making Daniel Tiger dance. There is also a sing-along section where kids can sing about feelings with Daniel Tiger, as well as a drawing area that includes paint, crayons and stickers. This app provides an age-appropriate way to explore different types of feelings with children ages 3-5, and is a great way to start conversations with your children about feelings. The app is $2.99 and available for iPad.

11. Letter Sounds – Endless Alphabet

Endless Alphabet is a super silly, wacky, hilarious vocabulary learning app for kids. Scroll through words inside a friendly blue monster’s mouth. Tap on one that looks especially interesting, and learn what the word means. Kids need to build the word, letter by letter first, then watch, listen and learn about the meaning of each word. Wacky, weird letters and colorful, interesting (non-scary) monster characters play the starring role in the app. You won’t find any high scores or multiple levels in Endless Alphabet. This app is just about learning new words in a playful, discovery-focused way.

12. Multiple Skills – Grandma’s Kitchen

Grandma’s Kitchen is sure to delight your youngest chef while practicing a variety of skills including patterning, counting tens and ones, visual discrepancy, telling time, and ABC order. Grandma’s Kitchen has a nice balance of creative play, skill-based practice and informational videos to build vocabulary. Grandma will even give your child prompts if they are having difficulty answering the question. After your child answers the question, they are rewarded with an activity with grandma such as adding ingredients to the mixer to make a cake, watching an informational cooking video, dancing with Grandma, or our favorite, giving Grandma a kiss! Parents, be sure to check out the settings area where you can decide which skills your child is practicing. Check out the fun facts section for tidbits about food, nutrition and cooking. The app is $1.99 and is appropriate for children ages 4-7.

13. Best Non-fiction Reading – Kids Discover Apps

Kids Discover is a jam-packed, non-fiction learning experience for kids. Kids Discover has a variety of topics that they offer in magazine/book-styled apps. Each topic contains pages with information and interactive elements. The app does contain a large amount of text, which is not read aloud. Parents read aloud the text to your child, or help define the topic-specific vocabulary words your child may not be able to read themselves. The apps contain great real pictures, drawings, diagrams, and areas to learn more. At the end of each app there are activities that relate to the topic of the magazine, and multiple choice quizzes with an answer key. Check out their website for excellent parent guides. They also have a teacher area with free lesson plans to accompany each of the apps. Visit their webpage to see all of the app magazine topics like electricity, the Incas, geology, the Civil War, galaxies and much more. Each one is $2.99 and appropriate for children ages 6-8.


14.  Handwriting – abc PocketPhonics

ABC PocketPhonics brings three important language skills together into one app. In abc PocketPhonics, children learn to recognize letters, hear letter sounds, form letters by tracing, and use the letter sounds to build words. Parents are able to create multiple users, have control over the font and letter types, what letters their child can work on, and how flawless the writing needs to be. ABC PocketPhonics tracks each user’s answer and will not advance a user unless they first demonstrate mastery of the basics. The app is $6.99 and is appropriate for children who are learning their letters and their sounds ages 4-6. Try the Lite version first to see if it is a good match for your child.

Download the most popular guide to finding and using educational apps for kids!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Benefits of Self-Correction and the Montessori Method | Guest Post

In this blog post, I would like to address the importance of self-correction in the Montessori Method.

In this blog post, I would like to address the importance of self-correction in the Montessori Method.

One of Maria Montessori’s conclusions following her hours of observation in schools was that learning comes through experience. Being the first woman Doctor in Italy and having started her career with deficient children, she developed a set of scientifically designed materials to teach children a variety of concepts. Still in use today in Montessori schools, each material follows a set of criteria:


• Beautiful
• Simple
• Serves a purpose
• Self-corrective


Self-correction in Montessori schools is not only linked to the material. Everything in the classroom (called “environment”) has to reveal children and adults’ errors for them to learn. For instance, plastic is not used for cups and plates; only real china will allow children to realize that it breaks if dropped on the floor.


Another key concept in the Montessori Method is autonomy. When kids arrive in a Montessori preschool, they are usually 2½-3 years old and their level of autonomy is low. Montessori teachers’ aim will be to make them as independent as possible before they leave the first 3-year cycle.


The material designed by Montessori plays a big part in this objective; it is on display, at children’s height, for them to choose from, giving them freedom of choice and action in the classroom. This freedom is always supervised and guided by the teacher but children are not dependent on the adult, which provides them great satisfaction and builds their self-confidence.


Children use the material on their own so, to ensure that they learn from their experiences, self-correction is a crucial characteristic. They learn even more as they understand/deduct by themselves that they’ve made a mistake and the material gently leads them to find the correction.


How Does Self-Correction Work in a Montessori App?


First of all, Montessori apps should not have “uh oh”, “no,no,no” or “buzz” sounds when children make mistakes. Not only are these kinds of feedbacks unproductive (given by adults) but worse, they might scare off children and stop them from trying again.


In Montessori Numberland, the spindle (they look like little sticks) material, found in the “Count” section and when learning about number 0, is made of 45 wooden sticks and 10 boxes numbered from 0 to 9. The child is asked to “put the right number of spindles in each box”. If the child drags a 6th spindle in the 5 box, the spindle gently goes back in the middle. If there are spindles left in the middle when the child is done, he will have to count all the boxes to find the ones where spindles are missing.



Valérie holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from Université du Québec à Montréal and a Masters degree from Lyon Business School. After the birth of her first child (she’s mom to 4 children), she made a career shift and became a Montessori teacher. In 2010, with the upcoming arrival of the iPad, Valérie and two of her friends set up a company called Edoki Academy with the objective to offer quality Montessori-based apps.


Find more reviews of Montessori-based educational apps here.


Download the most popular guide to finding and using educational apps for kids!

Tags: , , , , , ,