Hi Cool Mom Tech, any suggestions for fun kid-friendly typing apps or websites? – Tiffiny via Twitter
How perfect–I’ve just been looking for typing websites myself, to get my own kids to learn how to type online. Especially after the pain of watching her spend a good hour hunting and pecking to complete two sentences for a third grade presentation.
As a fast (sometimes) touch-typist myself, I’m a huge advocate of learning proper typing technique and especially in today’s digital world, I think it’s become a new essential skill.
Certainly there are plenty of mobile apps which promise to teach typing, but personally I think that flies in the face of logic; you need to sit down at an actual keyboard to be able to learn how to use a keyboard. And yes, of course you can use a bluetooth keyboard with a tablet, but I’m old school that way. (Get my kid a darn typewriter, someone! And some white-out, while you’re at it.) So here are some of the best typing websites for kids that I’ve found, some free and some for a little money that you might thing is worth it.
A Typing Website for Kids to Get Started
Despite the crushing number of ads popping in the margins or while the games load, the tutor courses at TypingWeb.com are among the best free resources I’ve found online. The proper, step-by-step lessons remind me of the ones I took back in school as a kid, and it’s amazing how clean and navigable the interface is, because the homepage with all the blinky madness is very misleading. Normally I’d have skipped right past it.
You’ll find the beginner lessons start slowly with the home row keys; first you learn f and j, then move onto d and k, and so on. As you can see, there are even little visual hints as to which finger on which hand is required for the next letter. As you master each pair you can move to another row, or retake the lesson as makes sense. And of course typing as a whole has its very own gamification built-in with the WPM and accuracy tabulations at the end of each lesson.
You can also register for the site if you choose, which allows you to keep track of progress and access some extra content. Or upgrade to a premium account starting at just $9.99 for the year (or $14.99 for a LIFETIME you guys. Your whole life!) which removes “distracting ads,” as they put it. Nothing like them admitting that they know the ads on their site are awful. Although I would say if you’re serious about teaching your kid typing, it’s worth the money.
Online Typing Games for Practice…and Fun
Also on on Typing Web, you’ll find about a dozen free typing games that kids will love like Keyboard Ninja or Type a Balloon. Basically they’re all derivations of the same thing: Select a level then type letters that appear onscreen in order to slash fruit with a machete, shoot zombies and monsters, put out fires in buildings–or just pop balloons or knock down carnival ducks, should you want to eliminate the life-or-death consequences of your child’s typing mishaps.
I like ABCya a lot. A lot. It really was built with children K-5 in mind, the ads are wayyyy more minimal (just a banner up top), and Alpha Munchies is just like Space Invaders! Not that that means anything at all to your kids.
The developer of a lot of these games is Crazy Monkey and if you go directly to their site instead of through the the Google AdSense-strewn minefields of other site, you’ll have access to Type Type Revolution. Your kids will understand the reference for sure.
Just know that while all of these are terrific games and kids will love them, they really should come as practice for the lessons so that your kids aren’t cheating on finger placement (and peeking) in order to get higher scores.
Typing Websites and Apps For Improving Speed and Accuracy
Keybr is a very cool free online typing tutor, in part because it looks like a proper computer keyboard in the first place. It’s intuitive, the interface is great looking, and it seems to adapt to your own speed and style. What I really like is that during the exercises, you’re even allowed to hit the backspace/delete if you know you made an error.
Signing in allows you to track progress and compete against other people online (register your kid with a fake name, as you know). You can also go into settings and import or program your own custom text, so while Keybr specifically doesn’t do the whole asdfg asdfg thing, you can set it up that way for your child.
And if you install the Keybr Chrome extension in your bookmarks bar, you can even import content from other sites which is pretty great. So if your kid would rather type copy from a favorite book, or song lyrics, you can choose that instead of the random passages generated on the site.
Also know it’s got a bit of an edge–some of the quotes come from fashion designers or pop culture. One was a quote from Travis Barker about skateboarding, and I’d imagine kids will find that far more interesting than Shakespearean quotes.
If you’re really ready to get better, I’ve landed on Type-Fu, a fairly sophisticated if simple app download for your PC or Mac. It’s $9.99 through the Chrome App Store of the Mac App Store and it really is quite good for any age, once you’re already comfortable with one or more rows of letters or characters. You can change the level of difficulty, track progress, play around with the levels.
I think it’s best when you already know how to type though, even if you’re slow. In fact, I think I’m going to start using it myself to get my numbers and top row characters up to speed (we ran out of time senior year before we got to that row, darn it).
Funny enough, it seems my WPM is okay when I’m typing random words but when it comes to sentences–that’s my 114 WPM up there, whoo! (Not at all a humble brag, I know.) Just saying this because it’s a good reminder for kids just starting out not to get frustrated. After a while your fingers just know how to type proper sentences, even more easily than lll kkk lk lk ll kk lklk.