Can learning to type ever be fun for kids? Disney tries to make it so by providing entertaining sound effects, lovable Lion King characters and great graphics in Disney’s Adventures in Typing with Timon and Pumba. Rafiki teaches basic posture, home row skills and 15 typing lessons, while Timon and Pumba help practice proficiency with 5 different games. The games are clever and well planned to entertain and educate, but children must complete quite a few lessons before being allowed to advance to a new game.
Educational Value Disney’s Adventures in Typing continually educates and positively encourages children. The program will help teach young users how to type with valuable lessons and games, but they need a great deal of patience to learn. Progress reports keep track of childrens’ accuracy, games played, as well as best keys and worst keys. As children learn to type faster and more accurately, the games and lessons adjust accordingly.
Unlike many other learn-to-type programs, Disney’s Adventures in Typing makes no attempt to assess the initial skill levels of the user — every new user starts at the very beginning, and progresses in a linear fashion through all the lessons. If this proves inappropriate, the “Parental Controls” section include an “unlock everything” option, which allows users to select lessons and drills in any order. Kid Appeal
While the games are fun, entertaining, and beneficial, Rafiki’s lessons can get long and boring for some children. Users must finish a series of lessons along with the same game before moving on to the next lessons and game. Our 8-year-old tester enjoyed the first game, but grew tired of the lessons. She quit before moving to the next game, even though she really enjoyed the first one. It is difficult for children not to get anxious, if they expect constant entertainment. But if your child has patience, he/she will find the program useful and enjoyable.
Ease of Use / Install
Clear on-screen directions and instruction make this program very easy to use. Learning to type takes time (and practice) to master, but the program is well arranged for mechanical ease throughout the learning process. The only reason our testers reported opening the CD jewel-case manual, was to discover how to access the parental controls options.
Best for… / Bottom-Line
More games for each series of lessons would make children happier. Unfortunately, the high ratio of lessons to games might keep children from voluntarily returning to use this program. Nonetheless, this program provides a relatively painless way to learn typing skills. For willing children, the tools in this program are ready and waiting.
See SuperKids’ comparisons with other Typing software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.
PC: Windows 95, Pentium90 or faster cpu, 10 MB hard drive space, 16 MB RAM, 256 color video display, 4X or faster CD-ROM, 16-bit Windows compatible sound card Windows compatible mouse
Mac: System 7.5 or higher, PowerPC 75MHz or faster cpu, 10 MB hard drive space, 24 MB RAM, 256 color video display, 4X or faster CD-ROM
PowerMac 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium166 with 24MB and 12XCD
by The Learning Company
For Ages 6 to 8
PowerMac 6100/60 with 8MB and 2XCD
Pentium90 with 8MB and a 2XCD
Content Read, Write & Type is a combination program, merging the teaching of phonics-based reading skills with an introduction to typing. How do you get 6 to 9 year-olds to sit still long enough to learn touch typing? Read, Write & Type approaches the challenge by rolling the requisite progressions and drills into a rescue story.
The plot is simple: Vexor the Virus (the bad guy) has stolen all the letters of the alphabet. The user needs to help the Storytellers rescue the letters, to enable them to tell their stories. Letters are rescued by correctly typing the letters which match the sounds that begin, are in the middle of, or at the end of words shown in small pictures. Simple, right? Not yet. First, the user must cross a playground by repeatedly typing letters or words as prompted by a pair of disembodied lips! Too many errors, and Vexor blows you back to the starting line.
After successfully rescuing a letter, the user goes to the Story Tree, where letters, phrases, and simple sentences are dictated, and must be repeated on the keyboard by the user. Ease of Install / Use
Our reviewers reported no problems in installation or use of this program on Macs or PC’s.
Methodology “The plot successfully captured the initial interest of our kids reviewers,” according to their parents. “But it didn’t take long for them to recognize that this was a drill program that required lots of repetition before they could move on.” Our typing teachers saw this as an unfortunate reality of the subject matter, “You have to practice, to learn to type.” As a phonics program, Read, Write & Type does an “excellent job of building and practicing sound recognition and letter correllation,” according to our teacher reviewer. Proxy Parent Value This is not “fire and forget” software — software that your kids will rip the shrinkwrap off of, and disappear with for hours at a time. In fact, the directions suggest keeping lessons short (one or two letters at a sitting), and hovering nearby for the first 8-10 letters. We would agree. Best for… As a phonics program, Read, Write & Type is appropriate for 6 to 8 year-olds, possibly even 5 year-olds. The younger end of this age spectrum, however, had difficulty in our tests mastering the fine motor skills required for touch typing. Older children, motivated to learn to type, will find this program effective. Bottom-Line Read, Write & Type is a useful phonics program, even for children who lack the fine motor skills to master touch-typing.
For Ages 6 to 10
Performa 6400/200 with 32MB and 8XCD
Pentium90 with 24MB and a 2XCD
Mario Teaches Typing 2 is the updated sequel to its bestselling namesake. Utilizing characters and a style familiar to millions of Nintendo-playing children (and perhaps a few closet parents), Mario, Luigi and the Princess guide users through a progression of keyboard drills.
New users sign-in and are given the option of starting with a placement test, a step-by-step sequence of lessons, or simply selecting the level they feel is appropriate. The placement test is a timed typing exercise that measures speed and accuracy.
Users who start at the beginning move through three levels of typing difficulty: single letter, complete words, and sentences and paragraphs. Each of these levels is associated with a different Mario “game.”
Ease of Install / Use
Mario Teaches Typing installed without difficulty on our reviewers’ Mac and Windows-based machines. The program is intuitive to use, and provides easy access to help screens if new users have any difficulty.
Parents or teachers can easily customize the typing drills, by editing the letter, word, or text files which are presented to the user for parctice.
After every drill, an animated Mario provides results-based feedback to the user. “Oh-oh. We slipped a little bit. Let’s get back in there and try real hard!” In addition to the audio feedback, every drill produces a results table, specifying words-per-minute, accuracy, and identifying problem letters. The program does not, however, recognize and suggest corrections for common errors like missing the home row, cap locks key on, or consistent letter switching.
Our reviewers, parents and kids alike, agreed that the combination of Mario game action and timed typing drills was sometimes distracting — parents found the video game action distracting, whereas the kids said the same about the drills!
Children who have grown up with Nintendo will find Mario a comfortable environment in which to learn basic typing skills, and fun for practice. Among our non-Nintendo users, however, the attraction was weaker.
Best for… / Bottom-line
Mario Teaches Typing 2 is a solid typing program, cloaked in a Nintendo disguise. If the targeted student enjoys Mario or Mario-style video games, this program will create a typist.