Keyboard Town Pals is a web based typing curriculum marketed for children ages 7-10 or those in the 2nd through the 5th grades. It provides a unique way of associating the letters on the keyboard with something more visual, and in the case of this program, it is puppets. Their claim to fame is that their program will be able to teach a child how to type in one hour.
Hunter is (or was) a hunt and peck typist. For me a not needing to look at the keyboard and still type really fast sort of mom…. it was nerve wracking to watch him type. When the opportunity to review a product that would teach him correct finger placement while appealing to his visual learning style became available; I was all for it.
Upon first impression, the puppets were a bit child-ish for my nine going on sixteen year old. He sort of shot me one of those “Really mom??” looks when we logged in. But over time, he warmed to their quirky ways.
Next, some of the letters and puppets use sound cues vs. spelling cues such as: Emma for the letter M, Why for the letter Y, and You for the letter U …. to help lock the letters into a child’s memory. These difference in cues is clearly stated by the lead puppet. However, for those who already have issues with spelling things phonetically, as Hunter does, it was a distraction.
In Lesson 5 we meet Emma, Nina, Helen and Jane. These are not nice puppets. Their conversation about a “new girl”, how they don’t want to include her, and they go on to list her faults, was probably the single biggest turn off for me as a parent. I overheard this lesson as I was doing dishes, and Hunter was working on the program nearby. I stopped dead in my tracks and turned off the water, asking Hunter if those girls were just as mean as I thought I had heard. He told me “Oh yeah mom, they were bad.” The poor behavior is addressed later by another puppet….. and they do show displeasure for the choice of words…. But I am just at a loss as to why poor behavior needed to be modeled by the puppets in the first place. Surely there could have been other ways to introduce the letters J, H, M, N, U and Y, without resorting to neener- neener- neener type name calling.
Conversely, my 4 year old absolutely adored the puppets.( I would distract him in another room during lesson 5.) He would just love to sit and watch the show while his brother typed. If his hands were a bit bigger I would have let him practice on his own. Even with my personality conflict with the puppets, they do what they are intended to do. They associate the keys of a keyboard with visual clues and help a child remember where the letters are.
I have not seen Hunter sit at the computer and hunt and peck at the keys, since beginning this program. His hands are on home key street and he moves the appropriate fingers to the appropriate keys. He was able to quickly complete all of the 8 lessons that the program provides. He would often work through all 8 in a day. There was no gnashing of teeth or threatening needed to have him practice. He willingly and eagerly practiced every time I asked. So much so that he became a bit bored and wanted more to practice. The program has a virtual journal that you are supposed to use for more practice, but it was really just a PDF file of the text from the puppet portion. I think he would have enjoyed some additional practice with more variety.
I was asked to review Keyboard Town Pals Web Based version and given one month of access. Since my child was hungry for additional practice that the program did not provide, I have trouble recommending the price of $39.95 for a one year membership, as a great value for homeschooling families. Perhaps if it were broken into quarterly subscriptions with a smaller price tag; I could see the value. My child would have been bored with a whole year of the same 8 lessons and while I understand that repetition brings mastery, a bit more variety for the older student is needed.
While our family will not purchase a subscription or continue to use this product; I am grateful for the experience of reviewing it. Hunter did learn how to type correctly, and he did learn it in about an hour.
as previously stated, we received one month of free access to the Keyboard Town Pals web based program free of charge, solely for the purpose of this review. No other compensation has been received. All of the above opinions are based on our usage of this program with in a homeschool environment. Thank you KTP for allowing us to review your product.