Two Great Apps for Improving Visual Motor Skills

By: Noa Nitzan

I thought I would share with you two great apps that I use extensively in my practice to work on pre-writing and visual motor skills. Each is developed by an occupational therapist but are recommended for use by anyone. I love using these apps for practicing skills like motor accuracy that is essential not only for pre-writing skills but also for motor skills required for using the tablet itself. Those same skills will be essential for children who require the accuracy needed for communication or typing apps. The games are esthetic and clear and appropriate for a range of age groups. They each contain various activities that work on visual motor skills and can also be used to work on visual attention, concentration, perseverance, and other learning habits.

Ready to Print
Ready to PrintReady to Print is a great app for working on pre-writing skills. A lot of effort has been put into the graphics and design of this app, which is very important when working with children and youth with various disabilities. All activities include clear characters and objects relevant to daily life and each activity has a number of levels with increasing difficulty.

I recommend heading to their website, it has great information and links to download files and related worksheets based on the activities in the app. This is a great bonus that can allow the transfer of skills to “real” worksheets and writing utensils. If it’s appropriate, the user can practice skills in the app using a stylus and work on pencil grip before moving to paper and pencil tasks.

Ready to Print is available on iTunes and Google Play.

Ready to Print

The initial screen shows a menu of all 10 available games. Each activity works on a different skill, touch, ordered touch, touch and drag, matching, tracing paths, tracing paths of shapes, connecting dots, pinching, writing letters, and simple drawing.

In the “Touch” activity the user is required to touch objects on the screen, and the object turns into something else. For example, touch the caterpillars to turn them into butterflies. With each board, the number of objects on the screen increases. This activity is wonderful and has been a hit with a wide range of clients. In the “Paths” activity the user has to draw a line between two objects while staying inside the path. The paths are a convenient width, allowing for success but still providing a challenge, and the positive feedback is significant. Note that the user can continue their line even if they stray from the path, as opposed to other apps with similar activities in which the user must start from the beginning if they stray from the path. This feature can help to reduce frustration with the activity, but may also be problematic in that it may not provide enough feedback to indicate incorrect performance.

Connect the Dots

I also love the “Connect the Dots” and the “Letters” activities. On each page, after practicing in the lines, there is an opportunity to practice the same shape or letter/number free hand.

Number 2 - Print a number

The “Free Draw” activity is excellent as preparation for transferring to drawing on “real” paper.

Free Draw

The settings screen is extensive and allows for personalization of many aspects including whether there is automatic advance to the next level, range of the pinch activity and much more.

Settings Screen
The therapist or teacher can add users and the app collects data on their performance, an excellent feature for tracking progress.

Dexteria Jr.
dexteria-iconThis app, by Binary Labs, includes three games for practicing fine motor and pre-writing skills. The animation and background music are design features that add fun and interest to this activity, but of course the background music can be turned off for those users that find it distracting. I recommend taking a look at the Binary Labs website and checking out their other apps. You can also sign up for their newsletter.

The app is available on iTunes.

Dexteria main menu

The app consists of three activities, each with a number of levels increasing in difficulty:
1. Squish the Squash In this game the child has to touch each squash in order to see them explode. It requires finger isolation and visual motor accuracy.

2. Trace & Erase This game works on accuracy and visual motor integration requiring the child to trace a path between two points. Each level presents paths in a different direction or shape. Once the child traces the lines on the page, they then erase them with an eraser, revealing a picture exposed by the iPad’s camera. The child is allowed to stray from the path, at which point his line turns red, however the line has to end at the final star in order to be able to continue to the next line.

Trace and Erase

3. Pinch the Pepper requires the child to” pinch” each pepper with two fingers. While it does not necessarily mimic pinching of an actual object, the positioning required to pinch the pepper does still promote hand arch development and perfectly mimics the pinch gesture required for use in various tablet apps, including the camera.
By pressing “report” you can follow the child’s progress.

There are many apps that can be used to work on hand skill development, but these two are highly recommended as apps specifically designed for it. I have found them very useful in therapy. They can be used with kids with a wide range of abilities and age groups and my students really like them. Enjoy and let us know if you find any other great apps for visual motor practice.

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