Tools for Tracing - June 5, 2012

For the past two months, my daughter has been able to write her own name and it doesn’t just look like a bunch of squiggly lines. Before, she would put the letters on top of each other and it looked like a giant scribble. Then there was the phase where she’d put the letters out of order and I thought she might be dyslexic.

She’s still mixing upper and lower case letters, but we’re making good and slow progress. I didn’t want to push her, so I waited until she was ready. A friend told me that her son’s teacher once scolded her for pushing him to practice writing because it affected his penmanship.

I thank her school for the progress and a few of the “me time” tools I found below:

Brain Quest Write & Erase Set: Alphabet
Me time: 40 minutes
Effort time: 22 minutes
Replay value: 30 minutes! (enough time for an entire glass of wine)

This is my favorite item for tracing and writing. If you don’t have an iPad or don’t believe in using electronic gadgets for learning, this is a portable and reasonably priced starter for your little scribe. It comes with one, dry erase pen that has an eraser head. This would be my only complaint. It might save your kid some heartbreak, in case they lose it or it runs out of ink, to purchase a few spares ahead of time. These come in a bunch of different colors that might make for even more “me time”, Quartet ReWritables Dry-Erase Mini Markers with Cap-Mounted Erasers, 6-Marker Pack, Assorted Standard Colors.

Your kid can trace the letters with tight tracks, loose tracks and no tracks in both upper and lower case. A ring binds the cards, so you won’t end up with them all over the floor, in toy bins, or underneath the couch or car seat. You’ll have to keep track of the pen, though. It can be used to decorate your walls, if you’re not looking. It also won’t wash out of clothing.

My husband and I like to go out to dinner, once in a blue moon. This is a rare learning tool that will allow you extra time, when the restaurant doesn’t want to invest in any crayons or fun placemats.

If you have a long flight ahead of you, then you can also purchase the numbers Brain Quest Write & Erase Set: Numbers version. This is small and fits in carry-on luggage well.

Alphabet Tracing
Me time: 10 minutes
Effort time: 21 minutes
Replay value: 3 minutes

This is a free app available on iTunes. You can trace both uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers. A train rides the track of each letter or number, so your little one can follow it with their finger. A voice will also say the letter aloud. There is no recognition for successfully or incorrectly tracing the letter, but again this is “free”.

The main issue with iPad or iPhone apps for tracing is the lack of a stylus. It’s just not the same thing for your child to trace a letter with their finger.

Leap Frog Scribble and Write
Me time: 25 minutes
Effort time: 23 minutes
Replay value: 10 minutes

This comes with four modes, including shapes, pictures and upper and lowercase letters. There is a stylus and a magna doodle-type erasing bar. There are lights that guide the user to trace with the stylus. The stylus is well-suited for small, toddler hands. This was a big hit when we first bought it, but replay value is very limited. My daughter will pick it up again, every once in a while, but there is a long lapse between use.


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