Write Ideas

App review by
Keri Wilmot, Common Sense Media
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Free templates help kids write; Microsoft email required.

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Educational Value

Kids who have difficulty getting started, finishing, or remembering to use enough details when completing writing assignments benefit from using these writing prompts to create letters, book reports, and essays. 

Ease of Play

New users may need help with using the template at first, as well as learning how to email it once it's complete so that it can be integrated into a finished document. By allowing access to the microphone, instructions and questions within the template are read out loud to kids.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Write Ideas is a free educational app that offers kids access to templates that may help improve their writing abilities. Each template includes at least a dozen questions that kids answer to get help writing letters, book reports, essays, articles, short stories, and other customized writing assignments. These templates could help kids include more details and show less frustration during the writing process. The templates for each assignment break down the writing activity into many parts by including relevant questions to answer. Users can type their information into the template or even use a speech-to-text option. Content written in the template can be read out loud to kids, which is helpful for editing. Digital doodles can be incorporated through the app into the writing activity for kids, to help support their main ideas and content when writing. Note that a Microsoft email address from a school or organization is required in order to use the app. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

WRITE IDEAS gives kids, parents, and teachers access to several great templates to use during the writing process for reports, essays, and letters. Access to the app requires a Microsoft email address from a school or organization. Templates within the app include a book review, descriptive essay, informative essay, personal letter, newspaper article, and short story. A custom template is also included, making it possible for parents and teachers to create their own assignment. After choosing a template, the user must type in a title for it before the questions will appear. When completing the template, kids can access it within individual sections, allowing kids who may become easily distracted to answer one question on each page until they're finished. An outline format is available that shows many questions on one page for those who want to see the whole assignment. Kids can also create doodles using their finger or a stylus to support their writing ideas. When the template is complete, kids can export it so that it can be edited into a complete document. Accessibility features within the app allow the font type and size to be changed. For those learning grammar, the app can highlight parts of speech in the text as nouns, verbs, and adjectives. By tapping the microphone icon, kids can use the speech-to-text feature if typing is difficult. This feature also allows their answers to be read out loud back to them during editing. 

Is it any good?

Many kids struggle with getting started on the writing process because they don't know what to say or are daunted by details, but these templates and features will help kids get started and finish. Answering questions within a template can help kids think more about the details they need for a complete, organized writing assignment. Text-to-speech functions within the app work well and help kids get their ideas out faster without being distracted when typing. The app includes great editing and learning features by highlighting certain parts of speech different colors and reading what has been typed into the text box out loud, which helps kids make sure their ideas make sense. It's frustrating that a Microsoft email is required for use of the app, but if you do not have one of your own at home, check with your kids to see if their email from school will allow access. Parents and teachers need to be aware that the templates are excellent to get kids started on the writing process and assist with overall organization, but the ideas do not transform into a final document that's representative of a letter or essay. Users will need to export their work into OneNote, Word, or an email, and then edit the document into an essay or letter on their own. An app like Write Ideas can build confidence in and reduce frustration with the writing process by offering kids concrete strategies to get started and keep going until they are finished.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Write Ideas is a great resource to help kids participate in the writing process from start to finish. Does writing cause frustration? Does your kid have a hard time getting started on writing activities or try to avoid them? Talk about how using this app might make the writing process less stressful and more organized.

  • Many children lack details in their writing and want to finish quickly. Does using a template help them to include more details? 

  • Typing can be hard for some kids, and many prefer speech-to-text functions as an alternative. Does the speech-to-text feature encourage kids to use more details since they can speak their thoughts rather than type them?

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: storytelling, text analysis, using supporting evidence, writing, writing clearly
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, part-whole relationships
    Creativity: brainstorming, producing new content
    Self-Direction: academic development, initiative, motivation, work to achieve goals, working efficiently
    Emotional Development: moving beyond obstacles, persevering
    Communication: conveying messages effectively, multiple forms of expression
    Tech Skills: using and applying technology
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: March 22, 2017
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 91.40 MB
  • Publisher: Microsoft
  • Version: 1.0.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 9 or later
  • Last updated: April 22, 2021

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