Writing is a complex process that includes everything from handwriting skill to sentence construction to planning and drafting a story. We've found apps that help young children along all of the steps of the writing process, including the final stages — publishing and sharing your writing with others. Several apps can turn your iPad into a handwriting tablet for practice. See also our list of apps for multimedia composition.
ABC Cursive Writing
ABC Cursive Writing turns your iPad into a handwriting tablet for practicing cursive. Students have the options of practicing single letters — upper case or lower case, whole words, sentences, and numbers. Parents can also create word sets. Each letter of each word set is presented to the child to pracitce in order. While a stylus is not required to use this app, using one will allow a child to practice using a pen to write in cursive.
Alphabet Organizer is a tool for organizing words and ideas alphabetically. Kids create an account then choose to create a page with a list of words. The list is stored in what looks like a drawer that opens and closes on the calendar-style wall of letters. To create a page with images, students enter a word, a description, and an image, and save it. The completed alphabet organizers can be printed as individual word pages or as charts with notes. These documents are saved as PDFs and can be emailed, printed, or saved to the app.
Hailed as a Schoolhouse Rock for the 21st Century, Grammaropolis uses the parts of speech as animated characters whose personalities are based on the roles they play in the sentence. From the shady pronoun always trying to take the noun’s place to the motherly conjunction who just wants everyone to get along, Grammaropolis achieves the seemingly impossible: we make learning grammar fun!
iCanWrite is a letter tracing app. Students can work from preset groups of letters or you can enter groups for them to use. Letters are shown one at a time with a demonstration. Once the letter is traced correctly, the next letter is shown. At the end of the sequence the results are shown as handwriting to give a great sense of achievement.
Inspiration Maps is a mind-mapping tool that helps kids visually organize ideas. They can create diagrams, maps, organizers, brainstorms, and text outlines. Outlines can be converted to maps, and maps can be converted to outlines. Users can share creations by emailing, printing, or saving to iTunes, Dropbox, Photos, or the app (as PDF or PNG files). The Lite version, which is free, lets kids create up to five mind maps with no sharing options.
Kid in Story Book Maker
Kid in Story Book Maker has special features that make it easy to create social stories for kids who need extra help with social and communication skills. Users can create stories from scratch or can add a specific kid into stories already included in the template, which is especially helpful for kids on the autism spectrum who may need to see themselves encountering situations, such as a visit to the dentist, in storybook form before encountering the situation in real life. Though designed for kids with autism in mind, Kid in Story Book Maker could be helpful for parents of preschoolers who want to introduce kids to a routine or ease them into a new experience.
Kids Writing Pad Lite
Kids Writing Pad Lite is a basic large-lined writing pad useful for practicing numbers and letters. It has a middle dotted line between two solid lines like most primary school paper so children can practice having the appropriate parts of the letters or numbers in the right areas. Children can also choose the color of their pencil, use an eraser, or touch the big eraser to erase the entire page.
Kidspiration Maps is a mind-mapping tool designed specifically for elementary-school-age kids by the creators of Inspiration Maps. Kidspiration Maps helps young readers and writers in grades K-5 learn to organize and classify information, gain sight word knowledge and expand their ideas into written and verbal expression. By creating story maps, Venn diagrams, and webs, students visualize what they are learning, improving their understanding and comprehension. Tap to transform visual diagrams into text - perfect for pre-writing.
There is also a Kidspiration Lite available for free.
My Story Book Creator
My Story combines drawing, stickers, photos, voice, and text to promote literacy, language development, and creativity in ebook format. Share the book on the web, social networks, email, or directly to iBooks. Your child’s story, art, coloring, photos, ideas, and voice recordings are saved forever!
Popplet is a productivity app that also works as a mind mapping tool. Use the app to begin structuring the writing process. The app can also be used to create graphic organizers, classroom visuals, organize material according to text structures (list, sequence, compare-contrast, cause-effect), and to practice sentence combining and complex sentence creation by connecting individual "Popples."
Punctuation - End Marks
Greetings, Cadet, and welcome to the Punctuation Department! Punctuation is the police force of Grammaropolis, keeping the sentences running smoothly and clearly. Without punctuation, there would be total chaos! Meet Officer Period, Detective Question Mark, and Sergeant Exclamation Mark and discover everything they do to add clarity to your writing. Track your progress through our puzzle bank and test your knowledge with increasing levels of difficulty. Drag and drop the appropriate punctuation and capitalization to sentences and paragraphs!
Scribble Press is a kid-friendly app kids can use to write and illustrate books, publish them publicly or privately, and even order a printed copy. Kids can start with a blank book and let their imaginations run or use a premade story line, which is especially handy for younger kids or kids who need more structure in their storytelling or creative writing.
StoryBuilder is a multi-purpose app designed to teach story structure. In the process, students learn sentence structure, sequencing, and inferencing. The app develops comprehension by asking children to respond to questions about a picture, helping them to structure the story. The child's answers are recorded within the app. Then the the answers are put together to form a story. There are multiple levels included in the app; level two requires inference skills.
StoryKit is a free app that allows kids to create their own books from scratch. Released in 2009 as a project based out of the International Children's Digital Library at the University of Maryland, StoryKit books can be uploaded, stored, and shared privately online. Kids can also read, edit, and add audio to a few classic children's picture books on the app.
TeachMe: 1st Grade
TeachMe: 1st Grade is an app that focuses on writing, spelling, and math. With this app, children answer questions and solve problems using their own handwriting. The app then reads the answers using a writing recognition engine. If your child needs help, TeachMe: 1st Grade will show them how to write the correct answer including the proper stroke order. Parents can select which subjects display, set difficulty level, choose specific questions, and even review performance history for each subject to check how their child is doing.
Toontastic is a creative learning tool that empowers kids to draw, animate, and share their own stories through imaginative play. Toontastic teaches key storytelling principles. Children are walked through creating the story arc: setup, conflict, challenge, climax, or resolution. Creating a story is as easy as putting on a puppet show — children simply press the record button, move the characters onscreen, and tell their stories. Once they're're done, Toontastic will play back their animation and voice as a cartoon for them to share with friends and family.
Write About This
Write About This is filled with images and prompts to inspire kids to write. Prompts and images are appropriate for all ages, with increasing depth and complexity at higher levels. Additionally, kids or parents can create new prompts using their own images and ideas. Write About This can help kids who struggle with written expression as they are given a prompt with a picture to help automaticity.
WriteReader Pro is a research-backed writing tool that lets kids write their own stories in their own words. Parents then can translate kids' writing using proper spelling and conventions. Books can be shared, printed, or published, with a parent's permission and assistance, using the in-app library. Kids also can read other kids' writing that has been published in the library.
Writing Wizard is a ustomizable app that helps kids practice tracing letters, numbers, and words while learning letter names and phonetic sounds. Audio and visual prompts show kids exactly where to trace from the start of the letter to the finish.