I am so excited to tell you about the AppCrayon by DanoToys! My almost-5 year old had so much trouble learning to hold his crayon and pencil correctly when he started preschool last year. It was a battle that waged all year, but I am happy to report that he has a beautiful grip now and does it all on his own.
We are just now beginning to work on pre-writing with Spencer, who is 3 and entering preschool this fall. I know we’re in for it with him, with his strong personality, so I was so intrigued to hear about the AppCrayon and jumped at the chance to try it out!
The AppCrayon is a trigular-shaped stylus to be used with an iPad or iPhone. The free AppCrayon app walks children through tracing uppercase and lowercase letters with live feedback on how they’re doing. They follow an arrow which shows them if they should go up or down and where to go next. It automatically advances to the next letter when completed successfully. A cheerful voice encourages them after a few perfect tracings.
My boys, Miles (4.5) and Spencer (3), absolutely love the AppCrayon! Spencer, who has absolutely no interest in anything academic, sat next to me and diligently wrote his letters for 20 uninterrupted minutes. He was so into it! He had the proudest look on his face when I congratulated him on each letter!
The AppCrayon can also be used with other writing apps, which is great when your child needs to learn cursive, or if they want to write more than just one letter at a time. We experimented with other apps we have on our iPad, and Miles loved writing full words with the AppCrayon. The app itself is pretty simple, but that’s kind of the beauty of it! It could have all kinds of features, but really the great thing about it is that it’s simple and works perfectly.
I was able to ask a few questions of the creator of the AppCrayon, dad-preneur Daniel Monahan:
Q: Many kids, my own boys included, have a lot of difficulty learning to hold their crayons or pencils correctly. Why is it so important that kids tackle this skill early on?
Handwriting is a complex fine motor skill that takes practice and proper form to master. The ultimate goal is to be able to write quickly and neatly in a small space. According to many researchers, the tripod grip is the ideal pencil grip for writing, and a consistent grip style in children learning to write generally emerges between four and six years old.
As children master the mechanics of writing, they are able to switch their focus to whatthey are wring, rather than how they are writing. Thus, the sooner they learn to write properly the better their writing experience will be, setting the stage for long-term success in school and beyond.
Q: There are many apps are available that teach pre-writing skills with the index finger for toddlers and preschoolers. Why is the AppCrayon different?
We actually had an iOS app being sold a few years back in the App Store that was featured several times, and at one point was the #2 most downloaded paid app in the Education category. It’s called Little Sky Writers, and it was designed to teach young kids the proper way to write their letters. Users “flew” airplanes through letter-shaped flight paths while a comedian (Stephen Kramer Glickman from Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush) told them the sound that the letter made and then cracked a kid-friendly joke or two about the letter.
We got great feedback about Little Sky Writers, except for one thing: teachers complained that kids writing with their finger wasn’t translating to pen and paper. So, with the help of kindergarten teachers and pediatricians, we set out to do something about that, and the AppCrayon was born. We even released a free, paired down version of Little Sky Writers (the AppCrayon App) to complement the product and essentially make it a complete writing system for an incredibly affordable price.
When paired with the AppCrayon, the iPad has so much more potential for helping young learners to excel with their writing and drawing. The AppCrayon works with over 500,000 apps.
In a nutshell, the AppCrayon pairs new technology with traditional learning.
Q: How can parents use the AppCrayon at home to help their kids master the correct writing grip?
The AppCrayon features a triangulated shape that will allow kids to be most comfortable writing when they are holding it in a tripod grip. Parents will likely need to guide their children to do it properly at first, but they’ll likely find their little one holding it correctly on their own soon thereafter. There’s a reason that occupational therapists are some of our biggest fans!
Q: How are teachers using the AppCrayon in schools?
The main use of AppCrayons in schools is for learning letter writing. If a school has iPads available, the teacher can open up the AppCrayon App, take out the AppCrayons, and give students an individualized letter-writing experience. If they try to write a letter the wrong direction, the arrow on the screen won’t move, forcing them to do it right. With pencil and paper, the teacher had to be looking over each individual child’s shoulder to make sure they were doing it correctly, and often times the student would revert when the teacher moved on to the next child.
With the AppCrayon, students are finding the transition to pen and paper an easy one. They are also finding their movements on the iPad to be more controlled and exact than using their finger, something very encouraging for kids who have trouble with find motor movements. They write better, draw better, and have more fun doing it!
Buy an AppCrayon and help your school!
DanoToys has started this awesome program to supply schools with the AppCrayon! Using the One Equals Two program, you turn in your receipt from your AppCrayon purchase and your teacher can submit it to receive an AppCrayon for their classroom! How cool is that?! The promotion ends September 15th, 2013, so act now!
The AppCrayon can be purchased for only $9.99 at Target, Staples, Radio Shack, Fry’s Electronics, and AppCrayon.com!
Teachers and parents, you know you want an AppCrayon! Enter to win one below! Giveaway open to U.S. residents, 18 and over only please!