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abc Joined Up

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Learning joined up handwriting remains an important skill that children need to learn, and indeed, benefit from learning.  This app uses an innovative and proven approach to facilitate teaching and enable practising.  

Teacher Review

There are two responses to anyone asking why cursive writing is still taught in schools.  The one answer is a simplistic one: because the curriculum says it must be.  The second looks deeper at the reasons and finds plenty of research that suggests that learning cursive writing is not only a skill in itself, but it is also a means of developing other important aspects of young children’s development.   Fine motor skills, mental development, better spelling and a more fluent writer’s voice are all potentially improved by mastering cursive handwriting.  Then, of course, the promised paperless future never seems to quite arrive and those with a foot in both the written and the typed worlds will never be out manoeuvred by circumstances.

The process by which the app teaches how to write each letter is very well thought out.  As cursive writing involves back tracking over some letters, a number of layers are formed.  By breaking apart these layers, the path through the letters is made easier to remember.  Firstly, the app shows each of the layers in turn with an on-screen pencil tracing along them.  Next comes the child’s turn.  They drag a representation of each of the layers, in order, into position.  Finally, they trace the letter following the order of the layers and a set of helpful guiding arrows.

Just as a concept this is a fantastic way to teach cursive writing but combined with the touch screen it is superb.  Examples on a worksheet just can’t hope to build up the structure of the letters in the way that this app does.  Nor can they test that a child flowed through the letter in the correct way.  Many apps feel like they are forcing a pen and paper concept to work in an app, this one makes the traditional way of teaching cursive writing feel like the compromised option.

The app itself is very well structured for use by an adult supported child, and by a child working independently.  Instructions are given in text and spoken form.    As letters are completed they are marked by a star, but they can still be revisited for future practice.   The tracking of the child’s answer is done using a waypoint system.  As they reach key parts of a letter, the app indicates that they are, so far, correct and when all are passed through the app marks it as such.  Potentially this does allow children to go quite far off track before re-joining the correct path and then reaching the next waypoint.  This can lead to some strange looking correct answers.  The motivation to do a good job is usually enough to ensure children do not do this sort of thing, and there is no perfect system to avoid this, so this is more something to be aware of than a criticism of the app.

Navigation through the different sections of the app is easy and intuitive.  Browsing through them will show that it builds up from learning to form single letters, joining two letters and finally on to writing whole words.  Within these sections the letter styles are categorised so that children can focus on similar formations until they master them.  Where appropriate, the settings can be changed to accommodate the different ways some letters are taught.  With this you can ensure that children’s time with the app does not conflict with their learning at school.

This is an app tightly focussed on achieving its teaching goals.  Based on an innovative tuition method and executed superbly, it is an ideal app for both parents and teachers to use with their children.


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From the Developer


Judges were " impressed by the accessibility and clean look of the app, and appreciated the practical educational value of the app to help develop cursive handwriting skills and improve reading and writing."


abc Joined Up is based on a proven method of teaching handwriting developed by a Literacy specialist teacher.

See also our new App: Write Upper Case! Print and Cursive version.

abc Joined Up makes learning cursive writing an enjoyable and fun experience. It helps children write cursive letters and words correctly and provides positive and supportive feedback by celebrating success.

Alternative letter styles can be selected from the Settings menu.

abc Joined Up has three Levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Expert.

Beginner Level teaches children to recognise letters by their sounds and to write individual cursive letters correctly on the screen with their fingers.

Intermediate Level shows children how to recognise letters and blends by their sounds and to join letters together correctly on the screen with their fingers.

Expert Level teaches children to sequence the sounds they can hear in a word and then join the letter together and write the word correctly on the screen using a finger or a stylus.

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In-App Purchases - No

In-App Advertising - No