App review by Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2015
Primary Writer
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Primary Writer

Fun borders spice up writing projects, but app doesn't do much else

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Grades
2–5
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Communication & Collaboration, Creativity

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Pros: Though borders are available for in-app purchase, a large number of borders are included for free.

Cons: Not much here takes advantage of a digital platform used for writing as opposed to simply paper and pencil.

Bottom Line: This easy-to-use writing platform dresses up kids' writing with pretty borders but doesn't do much else.

Give kids writing prompts and have them compose letters, poems, stories, personal essays, and more with Primary Writer. When they're done, kids can email their stories or print them. There's no option to save a story and then start a new one, so each kid will need to finish and print or email before the device is handed over to the next, with the story deleted to provide a fresh start. Have kids choose borders that represent something from their writing, or let them browse the available borders and take inspiration from there. Be aware that there's no gate to keep kids from making in-app purchases or accessing the device's sharing options. To avoid any surprises, teachers may want to enable airplane mode or make sure the device is set up to require a password before purchases can be made.

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Primary Writer is a platform for kids to write stories, essays, letters, and more. Choose from a wide variety of borders that surround the writing space. Many borders are free, with additional borders available as in-app purchases. Use the device's keyboard to type out text; add new pages and chapters as the text continues. Customize the look further by adjusting the font size, text color and darkness, and line color and darkness, or erase the lines completely.

Once finished, share the entire book, a chapter, or a single page through the share options on your device, such as email, messaging, printing, and so on. To start anew, delete the book and start again.

Primary Writer makes it easy for kids to use and produce attractive text documents. Colorful artsy borders spice up the text and add an element of fun. Spell-check and auto-correct options help kids get all their words spelled correctly. And the easy share option lets kids show off what they've written. Yet that's where the advantages of using a digital platform for writing end; otherwise, using Primary Writer doesn't differ much from giving a kid a pencil and paper.

It would be nice to see additional features, such as a save option that would allow kids to name and save their stories and come back later to read or edit them -- or, perhaps, a writing workshop with creative-writing prompts, letter headings, and other guidance and inspiration for writing practice. Though Primary Writer doesn't add much to the writing process, kids may find it enjoyable to create pages and "books" with this simple, user-friendly resource.

Overall Rating

Engagement

The app doesn't add much spark to the writing process itself, but fun borders liven up the finished product.

Pedagogy

Most learning will come from what kids put into the app. A few settings options, such as underlining misspelled words to let kids figure out the correct spelling, can help kids write correctly. Kids also practice writing on a keyboard.

Support

A simple how-to user guide is always available. Kids can't save multiple stories in the app, but they can print or share them.


Common Sense reviewer
Mieke VanderBorght Researcher

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