Friday, February 19, 2016

New Toy

We have a new toy in the house: Pencil by FiftyThree. We are all totally in love!

First let me say that we are big fans of Paper by FiftyThree. We first encountered it in our local Apple Store as a display app for iPad. Amazing! Of course  iPad was capable of this. We all knew it, but Paper was our first experience with an art app that rocked.

We aren't normal consumers–we're a diverse family of homeschoolers and their parents. Why do we love Paper & Pencil? Because you can do anything with them. Our 13 year old boy draws steampunk weapons. Our 11 year old girl takes photos of her drawn work and digitally enhances it. Our 9 year old boy cuts and copies and pastes until he creates recursive patterns to blow the mind. Our 7 year old boy takes stock photos and adds bunnies to them by hand reminiscent of Pat the Bunny. Even Georgiana uses Paper from time to time. Her favorite color is green and her handiwork shows it.

That's Paper. What's Pencil?

Hey there.

The pencil comes apart to reveal the charging mechanism. (USB)

Let's charge this baby up!

Pencil is a stylus that makes everything in Paper easier. That's that. It's incredibly pleasant to hold, use, and charge. But it's actually outside of Paper that I fell in love at first use.

Do you have people in your home using Khan Academy for iPad, writing in their numerical answers with the tip of their finger? With Pencil, they're instead practicing writing numbers just as if they were holding a pencil. In our house this is a big deal because we have dyslexic and dysgraphic kids who are reluctant to practice writing, but it is an added bonus for everyone. Using a stylus with Khan Academy for iPad maximizes the space available for solving problems because you can write smaller and more legibly.

Do you have people in your home using Montessorium apps? These are wonderful–both Intro to Letters and Intro to Math. We were early adopters but find ourselves returning to them again and again for handwriting practice with younger kids. We also do pencil-and-paper copywork, but these apps are so useful for quick practice. A very young child will use their fingers, of course, but the stylus allows the usefulness of the apps to extend to older learners who may need more practice making their letters and numbers legibly. Like my kids. 

The uses continue on like this. Not every app wants a stylus but those that do really do. They just don't know it yet. 

There are loads of price points for these things and admittedly, Pencil is on the high end. Why spend $50? We do have a single previous experience with the AmazonBasics Stylus. It is on the very low end, but it just isn't the same thing. One big reason is irrelevant unless you're using Paper. Pencil integrates with Paper (and a few other apps) so that you can switch between write and erase by flipping it over like a real pencil. Also, once it is integrated, you can lay your palm upon the screen of the iPad without interfering with Pencil. A finger rub becomes a blend, not a misplaced line.  These don't make it worth that $50 unless you're logging serious Paper hours, I know. And we are, so that was our reasoning. It's also heavier, more durable, and aesthetically far superior.

I don't have any reason to positively rave about Pencil except that I'm really excited about it. It is so tempting to me to spend less on something like this- that's how we ended up with the other stylus. I'm so happy we finally got Pencil. I'm sure we'll discover more reasons to love it as time goes by. For now, though, it's a winner. 



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