Saturday, November 12, 2011

Keyboard Town Pals - Review

Keyboard Town PALS Learn to Type program claims to teach your child to type in one hour. The children proceed through the program at their own pace. There's no testing, no scoring, and no racing against the clock. Instead, the 8 (6-7 minute) videos tell a fun story to teach the students the placement of their fingers and the location of 30 letters and symbols.

Jake (5) was very excited to learn to type. He had no experience with typing as everything he has done on the computer so far requires only the click of a mouse. As soon as Sunny, the guide, popped up on the screen, Jake had the biggest smile on his face. She is over-the-top silly.

Sunny introduces the student to the Keyboard Town Pals throughout the lessons. Each puppet pal is a letter or symbol on the keyboard. Most of the puppets are endearing. Some, not so much. One thing that I do not like is that the puppets or clues are not consistent. For instance, they ask "Are you still taking lessons?" for the letter R and visit puppet pal Emma for the letter M among a couple others. Sunny informs the student that they are sound clues not spelling clues, yet all the other puppets are spelling clues, like Amy and banana split for A and B respectively. It might not be a big deal to some, but the inconsistency bothers the perfectionist part of me. Or maybe it's my English major that cringes when it hears it. Another thing is that not even all the spelling clues are phonetically correct. For instance, they use George for the letter G. Technically, George starts with the J sound. My 5-year-old does not know how to spell George. If he sounded it out, he would spell it with a J. This could be confusing to him.

After a few lessons, Jake lost all interest in learning to type. It could be because his hands are a little too small to fit the keyboard and he had a hard time keeping them on the correct letters. Also, he was frustrated that he couldn't remember all the placements without looking at his hands. Twenty minutes in and he thought he should have been a pro. (I wonder where he gets that from???) Because the program is not interactive at all, it never let him know if he made a mistake. While I appreciate that the computer doesn't beep loudly or make him feel inadequate when a wrong key is pressed, I would like for it to let him know that he did indeed make a mistake.

Keyboard Town PALS is intended for kids ages 7-10. That could partly explain why it did not work well for my 5-year-old. It costs $39.95 for either a CD-ROM or a web-based package. The program is available in English, Spanish, and French.

To see what others had to say about it, go here

* I received a trial version in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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