A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
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.
Talk to your kids 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.
- Device: iPad
- Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions, letter or word recognition, writing
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making
Self-Direction: effort, self-assessment
- 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
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.