Common Sense Review
Updated February 2016

Dance Mat Typing

Fun, cartoonish design doesn't hide game's limited impact
Common Sense Rating 3
  • There's a step-by-step time line for learning how to touch-type.
  • Each typing skill is broken up into one of four lessons, each consisting of three stages.
  • Cartoony companions encourage students along the way.
  • Applicable keys are colored on the on-screen keyboard, with each stage having its own theme.
  • In between levels, songs entertain young students.
  • The visuals show students how to place their fingers on the keyboard.
  • Each completed level earns students a certificate of achievement.
  • Once all levels are complete, students can test their typing speed and accuracy.
Pros
Bright designs, silly songs, and varied characters keep each stage fresh.
Cons
Limited gameplay hurts replay value, and there is no way to skip through the long songs between levels.
Bottom Line
A useful introduction for students ready to type, but afterward they will need further practice.
Jenny Bristol
Common Sense Reviewer
Homeschooling parent/instructor
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Bright design, peppy songs, and supportive feedback all encourage kids to play, but since this game centers on typing, kids who get frustrated or discouraged easily may have a difficult time.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

Underneath the cartoony design, Dance Mat Typing is straightforward typing practice, providing a brief but very good introduction to touch-typing for younger students.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

Offers audio and visual feedback on students' performance by level, but it doesn't offer the kind of feedback that would help someone struggling with touch-typing to get better or faster at it.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

As with other forms of computer-assisted typing instruction, Dance Mat Typing can be used by the whole class or one student. Since it's free and available on the Web, it also doesn't require costly or time-consuming software purchase and setup. The game works best with students who are ready to type and who want to learn an efficient way to do so; unfortunately, the game might not be exciting enough to win over indifferent students. Dance Mat Typing could easily be a stand-alone station or could be split by stage into a daily warm-up activity to help students gain fluency with typing for other forms of digital production. For some students, there would be some value in repeating the game once or twice after the initial completion, but for most students, it would be better to move on to a bigger typing challenge once this game is mastered.

The website has additional materials explaining why it's important to learn how to type. There are also links to other computing lessons so students can carry their learning further in terms of computer science, Internet safety, and more.

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What's It Like?

Dance Mat Typing is a free online game that teaches kids to touch-type using the home-row method. Students progress through 12 stages within four levels (three stages per level) that slowly build the number of keys they're expected to master. The lessons begin with practice of individual keys and then move to short words and sentences that are made only from the previously practiced letters and characters. With each completed exercise, students receive praise and unlock musical numbers sung by that stage's animal host. Every stage reflects a different geographic location.

There's no penalty for making a mistake in the game, though the game pings students with every error. When they're all done with each level, students can print out a certificate of accomplishment that lists the mastered keys, and students can keep practicing by typing passages and getting feedback on accuracy and words per minute.

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Is It Good For Learning?

For students who take to typing, the game's pace and colorful design can make for a fun way to practice. But apart from rote repetition, there's little here to help struggling students. Students with smaller hands may get frustrated at the emphasis on not looking at the keyboard. Several heavily accented characters might be hard to follow for ELLs and students with auditory processing needs that are better addressed by less-accented speech. Dance Mat Typing offers accessible and introductory typing practice, but teachers may want to look elsewhere for something more directed, engaging, and comprehensive with more extensive practice.

Though it's best to do the lessons in order, students can jump around to any level or stage, depending on what they want to practice. While the game covers most of the keyboard keys, it won't do a complete job teaching students to type. That being said, although students will need additional typing practice after completing all the levels, Dance Mat Typing is still a fantastic introduction to the typing keyboard, and it will begin preparing the students who use it for more difficult typing challenges and practice found elsewhere.

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See how teachers are using Dance Mat Typing

Lesson Plans