Even as an elementary school student, I was confused at the writing, spelling and composition struggles of my fellow students. Writing came so naturally to me I took it for granted…for a time. Today, as a writer by profession, I’m all too aware that writing well takes both aptitude and hearty doses of regular practice! While not every student will find they have a natural aptitude for—or interest in—pursuing writing as a career, these apps will help ease discomfort, highlight fun aspects of writing, develop confidence with the written word, and perhaps even ignite an inner love of writing that will last a lifetime.

These apps are all recommended by teachers for focusing on various aspects of the “six traits of writing“: word choice, organization, sentence fluency, content, voice and conventions.

Note: This list incorporates apps for younger and older kids. Where one platform offers a free version and the other offers only a paid version of the same app, both are listed. Also, certain apps where noted have been vetted by the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) as effective aids for kids struggling with issues such as dyslexia.

1. Kids Writing Pad

Writing Pad comes in several versions including Lite, Lite++ and Regular. There are several different paper styles to accommodate different teaching methods. Kids learn how to correctly draw their letters and numbers. Options include choosing the pencil color and background color and erasing part or all of a drawn image.

2. Sock Puppets

Kids and parents alike easily fall in love with this app. Teachers enjoy its varied applications. Sock Puppet is designed for grades K-6. Students can work individually, in pairs or small groups to craft dialogues and lip-sync them into a short play. The puppets are super cute and engaging to keep kids learning.

3. Dragon Dictation *NCLD recommended

Dragon Dictation translates speech into text. The app has been praised by the likes of The New York Times and Business Week for its accuracy and usefulness. Kids and adults alike will find Dragon Dictation to be a helpful tool for everything—from texting to typing papers. Multiple languages are supported (for a complete list click here).

4. Toontastic *NCLD recommended

Toontastic helps kids learn to love writing through creating their own cartoons. As a bonus, breaking up text into cartoon-style, short scripts helps make writing original content more achievable for challenged writers. Kids can then share their finished cartoons on “ToonTube.” The New York Times has also rated it one of the “Top 10 iPad Apps.” To date, more than seven million cartoons in 200+ countries have been created and shared.

5. Dyslexia Friendly Web Browser

This app is useful for writing research. The font used is called “OpenDyslexic,” which means it’s easier to read. The browser is also designed to be low-glare (easier on the eyes), and the letters and symbols are darker than normal (helps with contrast). This is a great, free app to help students who need to conduct online research for writing papers or essays. You can read more about the development and usefulness of the OpenDyslexic font HERE and HERE.

Note: Unfortunately, as of yet there’s no “official” Android-based app, but if you have a jailbreak device you can download the font itself onto your laptop, tablet or phone. Also, as the font gains popularity, keep an eye out for an Android-specific app to be released!

6. Dictionary.com

This extensive app hasn’t only a mainstream dictionary and thesaurus with more than two million entries, but also houses medical and scientific dictionaries as well as a translator that covers more than 30 languages. Students with learning challenges can use the voice search for easier searching. All the fonts are customization-friendly for ease of reading. The app also offers audio pronunciations to enhance visual and audio correlation, and includes example sentences to assist with proper word use.

7. Idea Sketch

  • Get it for iTunes (free)
  • Get it for Android ($1.99 and $2.99 options)

Last, but not least, Idea Sketch is a great tool to help budding writers (as well as the writing-challenged) map out their ideas—adding structure and organization—until they have a complete diagram from which to pursue an idea or craft a paper.


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