Common Sense Review
Updated August 2013

SpongeBob SquarePants Typing

Silly mix of games adds some frills to typing drills
Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
Pros
SpongeBob and friends keep things fun with a good variety of games and drills.
Cons
Students may roll their eyes if teachers oversell it as a game.
Bottom Line
If schools can manage the price, teachers will get a package of good but not great typing drills and games silly enough to grab some young learners.
Marc Lesser
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Kids hooked on the popular SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon shouldn't need much coaxing, but when the goofs wear thin, the mini-game variety will come in handy.

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

Half of the title consists of familiar drill-driven keyboard practice lessons with silly SquarePants flair. Decent mini-games break up the monotony, though, and printable certificates and progress metrics keep teachers in mind.

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

Most supports are audio cues from SpongeBob, and they aren't always easy to follow. Players probably won't mind, as they'll learn quickly that the only real game mechanic is to hit the right key.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Mix in SpongeBob Typing tournaments in short intervals as part of computer lab time or your regular class. Challenge students to complete as many rounds of the Tournament mode as possible over the course of a month or two early in the year, with a goal of improving accuracy and words-per-minute each time. Consider creating an offline leader board with their printed certificates, but be careful of making things too competitive and turning off slow typers; adding up everyone's words per minute and recording the classwide scores each week might help in making such an individualized skill feel a bit more collaborative.

For students needing extra practice or who simply gravitate toward the title for its SpongeBob appeal, make the recommendation to parents that it can work as a good practice option at home during designated screen time. Be aware, of course, that at just under $20 it might not be a worthwhile expense for every family.

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What's It Like?

SpongeBob SquarePants Typing is a good alternative to drill-based typing software. It runs the risk of boring some students, but for SpongeBob fans it's a big win, featuring all the goofy characters that make the popular Nickelodeon show silly fun. While the game has playful art and a comical story that has the player helping SpongeBob in a typing tourney, learners will inevitably tune in to what the "lessons" truly offer -- less a game than typing practice. The upside is that developers pepper practice drills with gamelike interludes that do well in breaking up the tedium involved with practicing QWERTY. With 17 lessons and multiple levels of challenge, it gives teachers and students options, though students are likely to be drawn to "Glove World," the shortcut to games that are more fun.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Learning to type is tough to make fun, but SpongeBob Typing takes a solid crack at the challenge. What it lacks in gameplay, it makes up for with silly charm and -- maybe most important -- some variety. Teachers will want to use Tournament lessons for serious practice and assessment, since useful metrics like accuracy and words-per-minute are captured after each drill. But don't ignore the Practice and Glove World sections, which offer more interesting game-based scenarios for students.

Learning supports are audio- and text-based, so be aware that some reading is required, and some students might be distracted by -- and should turn off -- SpongeBob's encouraging and goofy looped sound bytes. The lessons and games in this title don't serve as a complete typing curriculum, but for early and middle elementary grades it's an engaging alternative to dictated drills and other software that can sometimes be too sterile for young learners.

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