Write Now by Bacciz is a remarkaby useful iPad app that teaches children to connect sounds with letters and to how to write the letters and later words in both cursive (script) or block printing. It’s extremely well thought out and executed. In fact, leaving aside a minor quibble or two, it’s just about perfect and acts as a valuable supplement to Kindergarten. Any kids around five years old will have a great time learning how to properly write.
Penmanship is quickly becoming a lost skill as keyboarding is taught to even the smallest of children at an early age. Proper writing is getting shrift that becomes shorter and shorter each year. So we were very happy to see Write Now hit the scene. Using the most modern of technology, kids can learn how to write legibly and properly and have a good time doing it.
The Main Write Now Screen
How it Works
When first running Write Now, the child is presented with a colorful screen showing the letters of the alphabet along with animals whose names start with the same letter. If you touch the speaker at the top of the screen, the ABC Song is sung by children, with each letter bulging as it’s sung in turn. This alone will keep toddlers amused for quite some time. But kids who are ready to write can touch an animal or letter and a writing tablet appears showing the letter in either cursive or print, depending on how the app is setup. That’s only one option. More can be found at the bottom right of the screen. Tapping the gear brings up the settings screen which gives parents more control than is usually found in such an app.
The Settings Screen
The settings screen lets you turn off the music. This is very welcome since hearing the ABC song played umteen times can drive someone well older than five stark raving mad. I didn’t understand though, why tapping the speaker, and playing the sung song caused the graphic to be crossed out with a red X. The menu narration speaks what mode is selected by the child — like the words “Board” and “Easy to Hard Mode”. This sounds pointless, but it’s not at all. It allows non-reading children to run the app by themselves since they get feedback every step of the way. This sort of simple autonomy is one of the touches that makes this app special.
Letter narration speaks the letter and tells what animal it names. Then the letter is spoken phoneticallly, and the animal animates and makes a sound. Auto Play Animation makes the letter sparkle as it’s being said and animates the animal. When it’s not turned on, the animals only animate when touching them. You can also set whether the default letter type is print, or cursive — appropriate for older children.
Touch an animal or letter from the main screen, and you’ll be presented with the board.
The Animal Writing Board
The board shows how the letter is written by numbered strokes. Bacciz suggests that a stylus be used, but that may not be necessary since a finger will do the trick quite well. Choose from one of the four colored crayons and the crayon sticks out a bit. Then follow the directions and draw the letter. If a mistake is make choose the eraser and get rid of it. The letter is shown in both upper and lower case
From here you have a choice. Either tap the home button to go back to main screen, tap the letter button to change between print or cursive, or tap an arrow to go back or forth between difficulty levels. “L” is the easiest letter to write and is the first one you come upon if you tap the ladder icon on the main screen, each screen available from the right arrow is arguably a bit harder. On any screen, tap the animal as many times as you like and he’ll animate and make a sound. Bacciz always uses the old Disney trick of drawing the characters with big eyes, instantly making them friendly. Think about it and you’ll see what we mean.
Tap on the Blackboard icon on the main screen and you’ll see the free-form writing board.
The Free-Form Writing Board
This is a very nice feature. Tapping on the “ABC” tag at the top of the screen allows you to type in any word (up to eight characters) and the word will appear on the board in bold on top and dotted lines below so the little one can practice writing the word with guidance. The obvious thing is to use the child’s name but asking what he or she would like to write, once again, gives the child a degree of autonomy that can go a long way. It would be nice though to be able to save a list of words that can be recalled later.
The Help Screen
One of our pet-peeves is educational apps without adequate help or directions that prevents the user from getting all there is out of an app. Fortunately that isn’t a problem here. Write Now has one of the best, well laid out, and useful help screens we’ve had the pleasure to come across. Take a minute to look at it, and you’ll find that absolutely everything you can do in the app is covered both simply and in full.
Write Now is one of the best educational apps we’ve come across. It takes full advantage of the benefits of the size of the iPad screen which is plenty big enough to be a writing tablet. The animals are friendly and the instructions are quite clear. There is a lot of play value offered for the meager three bucks charged. It’s easy to see how long a child can use it first learning letters and then learning to block print and later writing in script.
Teachers will also love it, whether they use it in class or not, since as the years go by student handwriting gets so scrawly and arcane that it’s become totally ilegible in most cases. Your child’s teacher will want to kiss you for giving them a student whose work can be read.
A gold star for Bacciz!