Dance Mat Typing…or Why I Don’t Need Anymore Typing Websites

Oct 29, 2008 by

As I sit here watching a group of 3rd graders eagerly typing away at their keyboards, I find myself aghast that I haven’t written about Dance Mat Typing before. A quick search through my archives reveals that I haven’t shared the “silver bullet” of touch typing that is Dance Mat Typing. No single website that I’ve found offers the same level of engagement, security, and dangerously high levels of cuteness. 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders eat it up, with its colorful scenery, heavily accented characters, and simplicity.

Of course, you expect nothing less from BBC Schools, the website that hosts Dance Mat. Time and again, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s delivers with high quality content for schools, and I have yet to hear one of my 3rd graders complain about the site (and we’ve been using it for three years at school now!). Of course, it does have it’s downsides; you can’t save your progress, it runs in Flash, so there are some quirky issues if you have a click-happy child using it, and sometimes it can be difficult to make out what the heavily-accented voice actors are trying to say.

Thankfully, the simplicity of the tool means that you can use it even without sound (although you wouldn’t really want to). The voices are cute, and will often times poke fun at the kids to encourage them to try harder; they all get a kick out of the first level when the cartoon goat that’s showing them the home row calls them a “fat sissy”. After every third stage they’re treated to a humorous song, sung in a different style (county, rock and roll, folk Italian, flamenco, etc.), and after each of the four larger levels they get to print a colorful, cartoon-filled certificate, which is the ultimate in extrinsic rewards.

While I don’t like to create “Best of…” lists, because websites are always evolving, changing, and dying out, Dance Mat Typing is definitely one of those sites that stopped my search for an effective and engaging home row typing tool. The best evidence for this? This week a majority of the kids have been coming in to tell me how much fun they had using the website to practice their typing…at home!

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10 Comments

  1. Janice Smith

    Not just 2, 3 and 4th graders… my 8th graders LOVED dance mat typing! They would do anything in class to earn some time on it!

  2. lauren

    I have not used this program yet, but it sounds effective.

  3. s.rhodes

    This sounds like an excellent tool for encouraging students to learn how to type quickly and effectively while also engaging them in a fun activity. Having students excited about going home and getting on the computer do actually do something educational is always a huge plus for the teachers! I have not used this program, but it sounds like a great reward for students that also appeals to the teachers and parents. Thank you for introducing me to this program. I love the fact that it can be used online at home too!

  4. dfrye1

    what is this

  5. Anyone found an online typing site more appropriate for middle schoolers?

    lou lahanas last blog post..The Thief in the Night

  6. Lou: I’ve actually had people comment to me that they have middle schoolers that enjoy Dance Mat Typing. Something about the ease of it perhaps, or the cheekiness; it does get a bit sassy with you.

    I’ve looked a lot, and have only food sites like Type 2 Learn that aren’t flashy, and aren’t very engaging.

  7. Does any body know a way in which you can save the child’s progress whilst using the BBC Schools dance mat programme, it would be very helpful!

  8. Unfortunately, no, there is no way to save the progress of the learner. It’s a shame really, as many students enjoy working towards the higher levels. It’s really a tool for introduction and practice though, not for mastery, so being able to save your progress is a bit of a moot point.

    Having codes would be nice though, to let you skip to the typing challenge at the end.

  9. madeleine blamires

    The goat is NOT saying “fat sissy”. That would be rude. He’s saying “fat city” which means “well done” or “success”.

    • Thanks madeleine! I thought it was a bit myself, but the kids all thought it was a joke in good fun, and they treated as that. Now that you’ve provided a correction, I’d love to know where “fat city” comes from? Is it a reference to someone being overweight if they’re doing well, because they’re eating lots of rich foods? Or does it comes from something else?

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