iPad App for Fine Motor Skills: Dexteria

There are a TON of apps out there that claim to be educational in some way, but is there specifically an iPad app for fine motor skills?


Dexteria fine motor app

Dexteria is an app that was designed in consultation with licensed Occupational Therapists to help develop fine motor skills, dexterity, and handwriting readiness in children and adults. It contains three “games” that are actually therapeutic hand exercises: Tap It, Pinch It, and Write It. I’ve used all three games over the course of the past month or so with kiddos in the clinic and in schools, and here’s what I think about each:

Tap It photo (3)
How it works
: User calibrates hand size on the screen, then must keep their thumb on the “anchor” button while following visual prompts to tap their fingers on the corresponding marks. Higher levels require greater speed, accuracy, and the use of several fingers at once. It’s kind of like Guitar Hero meets iPad (except without the cool music).
photo (2) Who it’s appropriate for: Older kids who have the ability to follow directions and coordinate the use of their fingers to at least attempt the first few levels
Who I’ve used it with: Older elementary students with learning disabilities, visual motor impairments, and high functioning autism
Skills addressed: Dexterity, coordination, visual perception/motor, attention, impulse control, timing, sequencing, proprioceptive processing (body awareness)
What to use it for: General dexterity, preparing students for typing, informally evaluating whether students have coordination and dexterity required for typing
Suggestions/critiques: Difficult to see the targets since user’s fingers block the view of them; I wish user could select which level they wanted start on; best to use on full-size iPad to accommodate hand size

Pinch It
photo (4)
How it works: User “pinches” crabs using index finger and thumb to make them disappear. Crabs are stationary in lower levels, begin to move around in mid-levels, turn red and multiply if pinched when red in higher levels, and move extremely rapidly while also turning red in highest levels. Quite an adrenaline rush!
Who it’s appropriate for: Kids who can utilize two
fingers to pinch and can at least imitate demonstration of how to pinch crabs
photo (5) Who I’ve used it with: Students preschool-aged and older who are non-verbal or carry labels of autism, fine motor delay, visual motor impairment, learning disability
Skills addressed: Pincer as pre-requisite for pencil grasp, visual perception/motor, visual scanning, visual discrimination, attention, timing, impulse control, auditory processing (crabs make “crunching” noise when pinched and bother some students, child can adjust volume to appropriate level depending on sensitivity)
What to use it for: Fine motor warm-up, preparing students for pencil grasp, reinforcer/preferred activity during sessions
Suggestions/critiques: Make sure students curl their last three fingers (middle, ring, and pinky figners) into their palm while pinching rather than splaying them out; have them hold a small marble or crumpled piece of tissue under the last three fingers to help with this; try using iPad chopsticks to pinch crabs and promote more advanced fine motor skills; I wish user could select which level they wanted to start on

Write It
photo (6)
How it works: User can select upper case, lower case, or numbers to trace. Arrows indicate where to start and which direction to go for each step of the number or letter being traced. Dots sit along the tracing path and “ding” as they are touched. A warning noise sounds if the user goes outside the path. Any letter or number can be selected at any time. Pretty straight forward!
photo (7) Who it’s appropriate for: Children who are able to visually attend to the task (whether sitting, standing, or lying on their belly), isolate their index finger, and control their hand enough to trace the path
Who I’ve used it with: Students preschool-aged and older who are non-verbal or carry labels of autism, fine motor delay, visual motor impairment, learning disability
Skills addressed: Isolating index finger, visual motor integration, visual attention, appropriate starting position, sequencing, directionality (like b/d, p/q), pencil grasp (if using a stylus), auditory processing (sound effects bother some students, child can adjust volume to appropriate level depending on sensitivity)
What to use it for: Pre-writing warm-up, introduction to letters and numbers
Suggestions/critiques: Use an iPad stylus to practice pencil grasp (can even place an adaptive pencil grip on stylus); introduce capital letters before lowercase letters (capitals are developmentally easier for children to learn first); go back and forth between tracing on iPad and practicing pre-writing using real life manipulatives (e.g., writing in play dough, shaving cream, sand trays, or using crayons on paper); I wish user could adjust the width of letters and numbers (or work up to harder levels) to make it easier or more challenging

In general I have found the Dexteria fine motor app to be extremely useful in the clinic and school-based settings. I’ve seen that kids are naturally drawn to technology, so introducing fine motor activities on the iPad is a great way to get them engaged in fine motor work prior to doing so in “real life”. Touch screen technology shouldn’t serve as a replacement for working with hands-on manipulatives, so keep it up with the play dough, shaving cream, scissors, and tongs!

The Dexteria app for fine motor skills is made for iPhone and iPad (though I strongly recommend using on an iPad) and can be purchased for $3.99 by clicking here.

A few more perks of this app: You can email a student’s results to any email address (such as the child’s teacher or occupational therapist) to keep track of how they’re doing. Plus if you purchase the $3.99 upgrade you are then able to save multiple users’ info and data– this is HUGELY valuable for tracking students’ progress!

I hope you’ll get a chance to try out Dexteria with your child. Be sure to use it in combination with real life fine motor and sensory experiences for maximal developmental benefits!

*I received a complimentary single-user version of Dexteria in order to review it. However, all opinions expressed are totally and completely my own. 

Want more handy tips and tricks to help the kids in your life? Then subscribe to Mama OT by clicking "Subscribe!" on the homepage so you can receive new posts via email. And be sure to keep up with all of Mama OT's tips and info shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Mama OT In addition to being mama to two sweet little boys and wife to a crazy awesome husband, Christie is a Registered & Licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR/L). She holds a B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Education from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA...Go Bruins!), and an M.A. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC OT). She has experience working as a pediatric OT in early intervention (birth to 3), clinic-based, and school-based settings. Her mission with MamaOT.com is to encourage, educate, and empower those who care for children. Christie loves that she gets to PLAY when she goes to work, is hopelessly addicted to Kettle Corn, and is known for being able to turn virtually anything into a therapeutic tool or activity, from empty food containers to laundry and everything in between. Learn more about Christie and what inspired her to become an OT.

Occupational therapy (OT) is a holistic profession that helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities, also known as “occupations”. Some OTs help people diagnosed with disability, injury, or disease. Others help prevent disability, injury, or disease. Because of occupational therapy, people of all ages are able to say, "I can!" no matter what their struggle. Isn't that amazing?!

. . . . .

Please provide appropriate supervision to the child in your care when completing any activities from this site. You as the grown-up will need to decide what types of products/activities on this list will be safe for your child. If you’re not sure, check with your child’s occupational therapist or pediatrician. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when implementing any ideas or activities from this site, particularly if there is any risk of injury (e.g., falling, crashing), choking (e.g., small parts), drowning (e.g., water play), or allergic/adverse reaction (e.g., materials/ingredients). The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any activities or ideas from this site. 
Follow and like us!

Related Post

4 thoughts on “iPad App for Fine Motor Skills: Dexteria

  1. This looks fantastic! Fine motor skills can be a challenge with some children but this app really helps to develop fine motor skills and other skills important when entering kindergarten. I can’t wait to get it for my 4yr old!

  2. Pingback: New Fine Motor iPad App for Preschoolers!: Dexteria Jr. | Mama OTMama OT

  3. Pingback: App Review of the Week: Dexteria Jr.

  4. Pingback: What's in My Therapy Box?: 60+ Supplies for School-Based OTsMama OT

So, whadya think?