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Keyboard Town Pals Software Review by Courtney Larson

Keyboard Town Pals is a typing program recommended for ages 7 to adult. This CD-R om runs using Adobe Flash Player 8, so there is no additional software to install on your computer, and it can run on a PC or a Mac. In this program, Sunny takes the students on a tour of Keyboard Town, where they meet puppets that help them learn to type without looking at the keyboard. The entire program can be completed in one hour.

There are eight lessons in the program, one for each finger. Keyboard Town Pals divides Keyboard Town into three streets: Home Key Street, Downtown, and Uptown. There is a house for each letter on the keyboard. Each of the Home Key Street houses has a named puppet who lives there (Amy lives in the "a" house, and the twins Jane & Helen live in the "j and h" house). The Home Key puppets talk about who lives in the Uptown and Downtown houses. For example, Sam, the "s" puppet, goes Downtown to exercise (the "x" key), and Uptown for weights (the "w" key). These little stories provide nice hooks to remind students where the keys are on the keyboard and which finger to use to press them. Letters and words that the student types appear in a box under the video lesson, but they aren't scored in any way. As a matter of fact, the delete and backspace keys have been de-activated because "mistakes are part of the learning process."

Little Hands Can Type is an introductory keyboard readiness program for younger children. Lessons are in the form of an animated slideshow. It introduces the name of each finger, the name of each street in Keyboard Town, and the letters "a," "z," and "q," as well as the spacebar.

I think Keyboard Town Pals is an excellent program. It's easy to follow, and the stories and puppets make learning to type fun and memorable. Even though the program is recommended for ages 7 and up, I think children as young as 5 could complete it. My 6-year-old son was able to complete the lessons on his own, and while he needs more practice to become a proficient typist, his skills did improve. I think Little Hands Can Type is unnecessary and not nearly as engaging as Keyboard Town Pals. Keyboard Town Pals is available for purchase at a cost of $39.95 by itself, or bundled with Little Hands Can Type for $49.95.

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2010