Common Sense Review
Updated October 2012

LetterSchool

Fun animated ink makes learning to write letters magical
Common Sense Rating 4
  • Kids will see the letter and a word that starts with that letter.
  • Kids can learn to form numbers and both upper- and lowercase letters.
  • After seeing the letter traced using fun animation and visuals, kids will trace it again before freehand writing the letter. After a couple of misses, hints are offered.
  • Kids will see the letter and guiding points for writing the letter to guide their tracing.
  • Parents or teachers can choose from the handwriting instruction style from Handwriting Without Tears, D'Nealian, or Zaner-Blosser styles.
Pros
If kids do not correctly form the letter, they have to start over, ensuring they practice correctly.
Cons
The animations don't connect with the letter in any way, which may be confusing for some kids.
Bottom Line
LetterSchool is a great way for a teacher to make sure all kids are forming letters properly when their eyes can't be on all hands at once.
Amanda Bindel
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Kids will enjoy watching the animation for each letter, which will help them remember correct formation.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Correct formation is stressed, and kids are given several opportunities to practice it.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Featuring an intuitive interface, the instructions and help are shown through animations on the screen. The app doesn't provide guidance for lefties. The app's website is very informative and helpful.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

LetterSchool is best used individually with your students. Before handing over the iPad, you should select the style of handwriting that fits your curriculum.

As an extension activity, teachers might want to invite kids to draw letters with pudding. Spread wax paper over each desk and add a dollop of pudding. Ask kids to spread the pudding out on the paper and then hold up a card with a letter for them to mimic. Yummy fun.

 

 

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What's It Like?

Looking for a way to spice up letter formation practice? LetterSchool is one of the top apps to do just that! It puts the focus on correct formation of letters and has kids practice writing many times to ensure retention. Teachers can choose the style of handwriting that fits their curriculum (Handwriting without Tears, D'Nealian style, or Zaner Bloser style) and know that kids are being shown the correct way to form each letter.

Kids can practice writing letters in any order they choose. The app guides them to first tap on the starting points for each stroke, then trace the letter, and finally write it without hints. In the first two steps, kids see special magic ink appear as they tap and trace the letter. Instead of traditional ink, kids may see a row of grass grow, or sparkling lights appear. It's unexpected and fun. If kids struggle in the third step involving their own writing, hints show up to help them. The default is uppercase letters, but teachers can adjust the settings to show numbers or lowercase letters.

After kids go through the entire alphabet, they'll unlock a second level that repeats each letter in the same method -- seeing the animation of how to form the letter, tracing the letter themselves, and then free-writing the letter -- but in the second level, the free-written letter looks like it would if the child wrote it himself.

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Is It Good For Learning?

LetterSchool is a great way for a teacher to make sure all kids are forming letters properly when their eyes can't be on all hands at once. Kids move from watching the letter formed, to tracing the letter, to free-writing the letter themselves. This repetition engages them, scaffolds the learning, and then gives them independent practice. In the second level, when kids see the letter as they've written it, they can be proud of seeing their actual work.

The use of magic ink is highly engaging for kids. They never know what kind of surprising ink will appear, and it keeps them coming back for more. The special ink is only there in the formation steps; when kids actually write a letter, it appears with regular ink. Some may wonder the significance of the animation's connection to the letter, but there isn't one.

Another plus is that LetterSchool doesn't let sloppiness pass. If kids get off of the path, the app has them restart the stroke. The app also reinforces learning the alphabet by introducing a toy to correspond with each letter.

Kids may do best to move to a stylus to make the transition to pencil and paper easier. Unfortunately, there is no left-handed option as of yet.

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