Sunday, October 9, 2011

Stylus for ECE classrooms, DIY stylus

I want my students to practice handwriting on the iPad holding a writing utensil.  I believe in motor memory and that practice makes perfect.  I also think the iPad can make even handwriting fun.  I love that some apps like Pocket Phonics and iWriteWords demonstrate proper letter formation.  I like Write-On for a worksheet like practice experience (especially for name writing).

When I looked at a stylus for kindergarten there were a few BIG problems though.  PRICE, durability, and size.  I couldn't find anything I could afford to buy a class set of that would last and not get lost or ruined.  I bought a Pogo stylus for my personal iPad and my 3 year old ruined the tip the first time she used it.

So I remembered a tweet I'd seen about a DIY stylus.  I looked at a few sites/videos but wanted something bigger for little hands.  After a little brainstorming I decided to try using some old markers that had dried out.  They aturned out awesome! 

Materials:  28 gauge wire, conductive sponge, duct tape, and marker casing.

The cost of the materials (not including the marker cases as I used dried out ones) was less than $5 to make a class set. 

Each marker took a couple of minutes once I got the hang of it. 

 Directions (video links below too!):
1.  Remove the ink barrel and tip from the markers.
2.  Cut the sponge into strips width wise, then in half again.
3.  Cut the sponge (now approx. 2" long and 1" wide) halfway down (second picture).
4.  Compress and twist the uncut side so that it fits in the tip side of the marker barrel.
5.  Pull back the two parts of the sponge and wrap the wire around the sponge/tip to about 1/2 way up the marker.
6.  Secure the end of the wire with duct tape (about 1/3 of the tape width).
7. Wrap another strip of duct tape around the wire/sponge at the tip.

Pretty, aren't they?


  1. Well that seems easy enough. I'll give it a go and since the whiteboard markers do dry out quickly they can now be usefully recycled, thanks.

  2. Wow, what a fantastic idea! Love how they turned out.

  3. Hi! I am so excited that I just got 4 more iPads,so I now have 5! I'm writing a grant for another 4, in my grant I have money set aside for the syncing octopus. I don't have one right now with my 5, but I'm wondering with icloud now, do I even need one?????? Can't it all be done wireless??? Am I missing something? In my mind it seems like I can just update them all through icloud. Let me know what you think! Maybe I can get another ipad instead of an octopus! Yah!

    1. As long as you have the same apple id in use for all the ipads, you don't need a syncing cord. you have to install the app on all the ipads, but you don't have to pay for it more than once!

  4. This is a great idea! I had no idea that a stylus like this would work on an iPad. I know with my iPhone that I have to use my finger pads because it is heat sensitive. Is the iPad not heat sensitive?? I did not know this. Thanks for the information!

  5. The pad is sensitive to touch (heat) but the pens I made conduct the electricity from your hand to the wire, which touches the conductive sponge, which then controls/conducts the touch screen.

  6. Is the conductive sponge something special I need to order or does the wire make it conductive. WOW thanks for the great idea.

  7. The conductive sponge can be from the local store, cello brand or the cheapie kind. Just make sure when you hold it and touch the screen it makes a mark. The wire is what you touch when writing, the wire then touches the sponge.

  8. Hi! I bought all of the supplies and cannot figure out how to take the ink barrle and tip out of the marker cassing. Any tip on how to do that would be appreciated!


  9. Thanks so much for sharing. great idea! I have a 2 yr. old and may need to do this:) blogging at


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