If you are looking for keyboarding programs to help your child with typing practice, you have come to the right place!
Below are several resources that can help students practice their keyboarding skills and even learn to type. Most are free and can be found online. Others are programs that require payment or iPad app download. These typing program recommendations are based on my own experience, as well as recommendations from Assistive Technology specialists and Special Education teachers!
I am hoping this list of resources for typing practice will be helpful for parents, teachers, and occupational therapists. If you are a parent who is looking to give your child some extra typing practice this summer, well, it is so AWESOME that you are invested in helping your child develop their keyboarding skills! If you are a teacher or therapist who is already starting to look for keyboarding resources as you plan for the upcoming school year, then I’d encourage you to play around with these programs and see which ones you think would best fit the students you have in mind! You’ll probably find that you may want to try a couple different typing programs with each student to see how they like them and to keep things fresh for them. Please feel free to leave questions in the comments section of this post if you are curious how any of the programs have worked for me in “real life”!
Keyboarding Programs to Help Kids with Typing Practice:
I’d say this is the most diverse online keyboarding program I have discovered yet. It’s a free online typing program, but there is also a paid version that saves all user data and presents it in graph form to visually demonstrate progress over time. Sense-Lang uses a traditional home row approach and provides a visual on-screen keyboard to show finger placement and highlight which key/finger should be used. Helpful for students in the beginning stages of learning to type and/or who struggle with kinesthetic awareness of their fingers. The free version provides performance statistics after each lesson such as total time, WPM, % accuracy, number of keys correctly and incorrectly pressed, and even frequency with which each key was incorrectly typed so you can see which keys cause the most errors. You can keep track of stats by simply writing them down after each lesson.
My favorite part of Sense-Lang, though, is the “My Text” option (found HERE), which allows you to type customized text (such as a paragraph you want your student to type) into a blank box and then after you click “start” it will display that custom text on the screen for your student to copy while tracking their % accuracy, WPM, etc. This is great if you are trying to measure speed or accuracy for typing sentences or paragraphs. Students can also practice typing sentences by selecting the BBC News option or Articles option, both of which allow you to type text from a category of interest in the news while monitoring typing stats. There is also an option to practice typing from audio, which mimics typing while taking lecture notes. There are also lots of other features to Sense-Lang, so just play around with it and see what you think.
The Sense-Lang website can be found HERE.
The Sense-Lang typing sessons page can be found HERE.
The Sense-Lang animated tutorials page can be found HERE.
The Sense-Lang “My Text” page can be found HERE.
The Sense-Lang practice articles page can be found HERE.
The Sense-Lang BBC news feed practice page can be found HERE.
The Sense-Lang audio typing page can be found HERE.
Free typing lessons start from the home row and proceed all the way to advanced keyboarding skills. The program tracks WPM and % accuracy, but lessons are not timed (which is helpful for any students who have anxiety or perform more poorly when they feel they have to rush). Student must pass levels with at least 80% accuracy in order to move on to next level. Typing Club has a “clean” look without a lot of extra colors, animation, or clutter.
The Typing Club website can be found HERE.
Free online typing program, but there is also a paid version. Typing Pal takes a traditional home row approach. Once students have completed the basic keyboarding lessons, they may only progress to the 2nd phase of the program after increasing their speed to 30 WPM. This challenge can be good for some students to help them focus and try their best, but it can be frustrating for other students who are highly distractible, have slow processing speed, or have difficulty with fine motor coordination.
The Typing Pal website can be found HERE.
Free online typing program which includes typing games, lessons, tests, and score reporting. The Typing Web website says it can help prepare children for the new Common Core standards. I like that this site also includes a “Typing Blog” that shares information about typing.
The Typing Web website can be found HERE.
Dance Mat Typing
Free online typing program which includes 12 levels and is designed to be fun for kids. Typing lessons feature an animated character with an off-beat accent. I would suggest that older elementary students (4th-6th grade) might like this program and its style, however, middle schoolers might also enjoy it depending on their sense of humor and personality.
The Dance Mat Typing website can be found HERE.
Fun to Type
Free online typing games to help students work on speed and accuracy, rather than doing repetitive typing lessons they may perceive as “boring”. Many of the games allow students to select which keys they want to practice (such as home row, top row, bottom row, all letters, or words) and difficulty level. Fun to Type offers several games including Typing Ninja (kind of like Fruit Ninja), Ninja Cat and Zombie Dinosaurs, Tommie Q: Zombie Defender, Type-a-Balloon, Type Toss, Baren Von Typefast, Fire Rescue Typer, Clock Words, Typing Monster, Type Type Revolution (yep, similar to Dance Dance Revolution), Air Typer, Typing Ghost, Cup Stacking, Keyboard Climber, and Keyboard Climber 2. These games are great for kids who need a less formal or structured approach to typing practice, however, these games could be stressful for students who struggle with anxiety or whose performance deteriorates when they know they must move quickly.
The Fun to Type website can be found HERE.
Free online educational games to help children become more comfortable and familiar with the computer keyboard. Grade-level lessons incorporate areas such as math and language arts while introducing basic computer skills.
The ABC Ya website can be found HERE.
This is an iPad app that runs for $3.99 (as of the date of this post) and it is well worth its cost. I would recommend using it with a physical keyboard (either bluetooth or one that plugs into the iPad). The Tap Typing app takes a unique approach to teaching the keys, which can be a breath of fresh air for some students, such as those with apraxia or other fine motor learning coordination challenges. This app teaches typing based on fingers rather than keys, so it provides practice for all index finger keys first, then the center finger keys, then the outer finger keys. I’m not a piano player (though I wish I was!), but I’ve been told that this approach is similar to how keys are introduced in piano instruction. The Tap Typing app also monitors typing stats such as WPM, % accuracy, and total time for each lesson, and you can simply write down the stats after each lesson if you want to keep track of them.
I like that the practice sessions in this app are short, which makes it very useful for students who are easily distracted or overwhelmed. It’s also a great fit for those short 30-minute school-based sessions (where you have SO MUCH to work on in such a brief period of time!). I also like that you can create multiple student accounts within the app and it will save each student’s progress individually so you can pick up right where you left off from session to session. I love the Tap Typing app, have used it with multiple students in the school-based setting, and think it is a great resource to have in a school-based OT toolbox!
The Tap Typing app can be downloaded from the app store straight to your iPad or can be found in the iTunes store HERE.
Keyboarding Without Tears
This is a paid online typing program created by the one and only Handwriting Without Tears! The Keyboarding Without Tears program includes developmentally-appropriate lessons that take children through the developmental progression of computer use and keyboarding skills based on school grade (K-5) as well as progress monitoring. It utilizes visual and verbal associations with each keyboarding skill/lesson taught, provides visual assistance with a color-coded on-screen keyboard (i.e., different colors for top row, middle row, bottom row, and spacebar), reinforces language arts instruction based on grade, and boasts the ability to develop the technology skills needed to meet the new Common Core standards. Keyboarding Without Tears runs on computers and as well as touch screen tablets.
I hope this post is a helpful resource for you as you work to provide your child or student with opportunities for typing practice in order to improve his or her keyboarding skills!
Have you used any of these keyboarding programs for typing practice? What did you think? Any suggestions for other programs for typing practice that you love? Please share in the comments below!
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