iTrace - handwriting for kids

Common Sense Media says

Tracing-practice app corrects, assesses, and rewards.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
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8
9
10
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

iTrace automatically begins with some of the easiest letters to write, such as L, I, and T. It shows a hand on the screen using a stylus for tracing the letters and suggests kids also trace after learning to use the pincer grip. However, it doesn't detail when they should do this or what stylus to use. Some of the words included can be long and confusing, and some letters drop off the screen as other letters enlarge when traced.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

A link to the developer's website (which promotes its other apps) appears under the About tab, which is child-locked.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

You can enter kids' names and photos for player accounts, but it's not required and doesn't appear to be shared. There's no privacy policy readily available on the app or the website.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that iTrace - handwriting for kids is an early handwriting skills practice app that includes letters, numbers, words, and a special mode that focuses practice on the user's name. The app shows a realistic hand holding a pencil that shows kids exactly where to trace on the model letter or number. It also erases incorrect tracing back to the previous step. This app is particularly helpful for kids who have difficulty with differentiating letter spacing and fine motor issues. It includes a detailed progress report for parents that gives images of each tracing as well as assessments, such as "too shaky," "out of bounds," and "overextended." Each letter includes a default version and an alternate version for different styles and preferences (including one for lefties). Fun rewards include seek-and-finds and cute animated scenes.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • letter or word recognition
  • writing

Math

  • numbers

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making

Self-Direction

  • effort
  • self-assessment

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Fun rewards and the ability to trace your own name in multiple colors creates an engaging experience. The app's auto-erase function, wherein kids trace a line incorrectly, may be frustrating for some kids.

Learning Approach

Custom settings include choices for multiple methods of writing letters, including left- or right-handed tracing. iTrace demonstrates how each letter should be traced first, then provides lines and dots on the models.

Support

A brief tutorial outlines the app's features. Detailed reports help adults know where kids need more assistance.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • letter or word recognition
  • writing

Math

  • numbers

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making

Self-Direction

  • effort
  • self-assessment

Kids can practice tracing uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, their own names, and words with iTrace. Kids also can learn letter names (not phonetic pronunciations) and word recognition for more than 500 words. As kids watch the demonstration and then trace what they've observed, they're practicing following visual directions as they learn early writing skills. iTrace - handwriting for kids offers hundreds of tracing options with fun rewards; adding letter sounds would boost the learning value.

This Learning Rating review was written by Dana Villamagna

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What's it about?

Read through the tutorial, set up a player account, and adapt the settings to letter style and left- or right-hand preference. Choose uppercase or lowercase letters, numbers, name practice, or words. Watch the hand trace the letter, listen to the letter name spoken, and then trace. Dots and lines show you where to trace. After tracing a letter three times, kids get a reward. In name mode, kids choose colors for tracing their names. In words mode, kids see animated items appear in the scene after each word they trace correctly.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Overall, ITRACE - HANDWRITING FOR KIDS provides lots of good tracing exercises to help kids get familiar with letter formation. The ability to customize letters to left- or right-handed tracing as well as to different writing styles is especially impressive. As kids progress, the app selects the next appropriate exercise automatically. The My Name module allows kids to practice writing their own names in many color combinations -- sure to be a favorite choice for many kids.

On the downside, once a word appears the letters enlarge so parts of the word often confusingly fall off the right side of the screen. There are some odd word choices in the word-tracing mode that young kids aren't likely to be familiar with or use, such as "yacht" and "stilts," although you can add your own words. Also, the app says only the name of the letter and doesn't sound it out. Some terms used in the assessment ("too shaky," "out of bounds," and "overextended") may be descriptive but not necessarily helpful to say to kids trying to master that letter. If young users stick with letters, numbers, and kids' names for a while and modify assessments for older tracers, they can avoid the pitfalls and enjoy iTrace's strengths.

Families can talk about...

  • Create an individual user account and set letters to the style your kid is most familiar with as well as to left- or right-hand preference.

  • View the user reports, but consider leaving some of the negative language in the assessments ("too shaky," "mistakes") out of conversations with your kid about his or her work.

App details

Device:iPad
Price:$3.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Release date:September 10, 2013
Category:Education
Size:101.00 MB
Publisher:Elately iTrace
Version:1.2.1
Minimum software requirements:iOS 5.0 or later

This review of iTrace - handwriting for kids was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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