Touch and Write Phonics

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Touch and Write Phonics App Poster Image
Cool app with animated lessons, playful tracing elements.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn the basic phonetic rules related to vowels, blends, and digraphs. Kids can practice tracing letters and words, as well as learn the sound of each letter's name and its phonetic pronunciation. As kids trace, they develop fine-motor skills and practice academic effort, especially when they don't trace a letter correctly; it erases, and then they must trace it again. Touch and Write Phonics supplies fun, colorful tracing and phonics practice.

Ease of Play

It's easy to play, once an adult guides a kid to the section appropriate to his or her current level of phonics knowledge. From the main page, tap "Vowels," "Blends," "Digraphs," or "My Own Word Lists." Next, choose an appropriate subsection.Tracing the letters is as easy as following the cupcake lines with the monster and your finger.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

Tap the information tab on the main screen, and you're moved to a page including a "More from FizzBrain" section that promotes the developer's other apps through a kid-protected parent gate feature that requires users to answer a math problem before entering the iTunes store.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Touch and Write Phonics is a beginning phonics and letter-tracing app that includes 18 fun "writing textures" -- pudding, pumpkin pie, pink chalk, and more -- as well as 35 writing-paper styles for backgrounds. Players can listen to a brief, animated lesson for each main phonics concept ("Vowels," "Blends," and "Digraphs"), then trace letters as they first hear a voice speak the phonetic sound and then the letter name. A little monster guides kids by following cupcakes along the tracing path. Parents can create tracing word lists, too, but only from a pre-chosen, alphabetized group of words. Options exist for kids who need more traditional pencil-and-paper choices to minimize distraction, and there's darker paper for kids who are visually impaired.

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What's it about?

Enter a username for each kid's progress profile. Then choose a main practice area by tapping "Vowels," "Blends," or "Digraphs," or create a pre-made word list. Listen to the animated lesson or begin a practice sessions. Choose the tracing texture as well as paper with a simple tap. Arrow keys allow players to skip or repeat letters or words. Kids can play on the reward page after completing practice pages. Progress reporting is easily accessible from the "info" page.

Is it any good?

TOUCH AND WRITE PHONICS artfully combines tracing and basic phonics practice in one app. This happy, colorful practice experience includes helpful features, such as animated phonics lessons, cute monster-and-cupcake letter-tracing guides, color-coded letters for phonics clues, and engaging writing textures and paper. Progress tracking and in-app email sharing can be useful for parents, therapists, and teachers working together to support a kid's language and writing growth. The beginning lesson for each main phonics section need not be repeated before each practice session. Parents can access settings, directions, and practice reports from the information page.

On the downside, there's potential for confusion when finding the right place to start, based on a kid's current letter-formation skills and level of phonics awareness. This likely requires an adult's help to avoid frustration for at least the first few play sessions. Also, some of the writing textures and paper combinations can get a bit busy to the eye. Nevertheless, Touch and Write Phonics can be a unique, useful way for kids to practice phonics and tracing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about and try some of the writing textures -- chalk, shaving cream, ketchup -- at home for fun, sensory-based tracing.

  • Use the reporting to check on your kid's progress, and, if you have concerns, you have the in-app option to share the report via email with your kid's teacher.

App details

Our editors recommend

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