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Weekend Website #35: Dance Mat Typing

Posted by on March 27, 2011

Drop by every Friday to discover what wonderful website my classes and parents loved this week. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of yours, too.



3rd grade and up


keyboard skills


Dance Mat Typing


Twenty-first century schools want kids to research online, type book reports, create fliers and trifolds using computer programs, but all that is tedious if kids can’t type reasonably fast and accurately. As a result, we force kids to learn keyboard skills at an early age. Most adults I know didn’t learn keyboarding until high school, yet as a tech teacher, I start kids in kindergarten. By second grade, my students are typing reports on MS Word, creating PowerPoint slideshows and making greeting cards in Publisher. That’s not possible if they haven’t been introduced to the keyboard, the correct hand placement and body position, and become familiar with the proper keyboarding techniques.

That requires a systematic approach to learning. The program I used–rtyu, fghj, vbnm–was boring, repetitive and worked, but required a level of maturity only achieved by high school-age students. I had to come up with something better. Dance Mat Typing put out by the BBC is the answer. It was recommended to me by fellow tech teachers, so I tried it. From the first week I sent the link home with students, parents raved about it. I got many stories about how kids practiced much longer than I required, how parents heard them giggling as they typed, how kids asked to do their keyboarding homework rather than being forced to do it. I was shocked–happy, but shocked–and have included Dance Mat Typing in my keyboard curriculum ever since.

The program is an excellent first step. The excitement lasts for three-four months before you must move to a new program (Type to Learn is good, Typing Web is a nice FREE online system, or here’s a list that you can try out–just go to your grade level and then scroll down to ‘keyboarding’), but Dance Mat Typing leaves a good taste in their mouth for keyboarding so they’re more receptive to the next level. I require 15 wpm by the end of third grade, 25 wpm at the end of 4th and 30 wpm by the end of 5th, so I’m always looking for ways to keep the enthusiasm and motivation high.

Let me know what you think.

–reprinted from my column at Technology Integration in Education

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