L’Escapadou has made a seamless transfer from Apple’s iOS to the Android platform with Writing Wizard. Writing Wizard has always been one of my personal favorites for prewriting and printing skills, largely because of the flexible settings that allow teachers/therapists to tailor to the needs of a specific child and it's highly reinforcing content that keep kids coming back.
On opening, teachers can select where they want to begin – prewriting exercises, upper case, lower case, numbers, beginning sight words or a list of words that you create. Settings are conveniently placed on the main screen, keeping little fingers on task while in the app. In settings is where you can tailor the parameters of letter or number size, a degree of accuracy when following a pathway, and whether or not to show or hide the model which allows you to fade the prompts as a child gains competency. One of the nicest features for teachers is the ability to record your voice with letter pronunciation which not only adapts the app to a particular regional dialect but also trains the ear in learning to follow direction from the teacher by pairing his/her voice with action. The choice between the three main handwriting styles taught in schools today, Zaner-Bloser, D’Nealian, and Handwriting Without Tears will allow you to stay in sync with your school’s curriculum. Sounds, music, and the choice of seven languages can also be adjusted in the settings. This app makes that transition from forming letters and then connecting those letters to structure words, and thereby provides purpose and meaning to why we write.
Once the focus of forming letters, numbers or words has been selected, giving a choice to the child of using the colored pencils or the fun animated stickers helps them stay motivated and invested. There are 2 modes of play, the “free mode” and a more structured “5-star mode”. In free mode, you can explore all five programs, and in the 5-star mode, the child follows a selected letter or word and needs to trace it 5 times using decreasing prompts or parameters that are preset up by the teacher in the settings section. The graphics are outstanding. Using the pale blue background creates a sense of space, and keeps the visuals from being over stimulating by cutting down the glare from an all-white background for example. The animated stickers are truly fun, and great skill building activities to help refine control and coordinate eye/hand muscles and bi-manual skills of using both hands together. These are essential skills when learning to read and write as they help a child develop a sequential flow to thought (ideation) word formation (execution). When playing with the stickers, you can shake or tilt your device and watch them fall away. Half of the fun is then to rebuild the letter…and there you have it – the focus of the play is on the letter itself. How brilliant is that?
The ability to use this app with multiple students makes it practical for the classroom, and for teachers and therapists on the go. The data collection feature is superb, allowing you to view not only the tracings of an individual but their history as well, which make this a great tool for quarterly reviews and IEPs. L’Escapadou has always set the standard for quality in terms of educational value and well-thought apps that kids adore. Their move to expand to the Android market makes this one of the “must have” apps for Android tablet owners.
About the Author
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.