Knowledge Adventure's Kid Keys 2.0
Kid Keys strives to improve computer literacy and keyboarding skills for children ages 4-7. I also considered some of its games to be helpful in language development and beginning writing skills.
Activities are designed on four progressive levels, so the program is developmentally appropriate for new keyboarders as well as beginning keyboarders who need a challenge. After mastery of each level there is an opportunity to print a colorful, personalized certificate. The incorporation of music, color and animation addresses a variety of learning styles. I have used the program in my class for physically and mentally handicapped students,using the Intellikeys keyboard by Intelli-tools for easier access and visual discrimination. It has been very successful in helping students learn the location of the letters on the keyboard.
Five doors in an onscreen castle offer various activities. Keystone Keyboard can be considered the introductory level. The letters, varied animation, and reinforcing procedures keep students interested and on task. Magic Mirrors introduces correct two-handed keyboarding, and reinforces correct key responses while encouraging correct form using a colorful, animated system. The music that is used in Dragon Tunes is quite entertaining and appropriate. One of my favorite activities was Mouse Chase, which teaches mouse skills. This activity was very challenging by the fourth level.
Kid Keys' format is easy to follow. Letters are presented in colorful, easy-to-see text. Animation varies to keep the interest of each individual learner. Because instructions are verbalized, it's ideal for nonreaders, letting them work independently and still understand what is expected. Immediate feedback is provided, with only correct responses acknowledged. Non-intimidating cues quickly redirect incorrect responses before poor habits can be established.
Kid Keys was developed based on research of the best methods for motivating children to learn. It keeps individual records of each student for the convenience of the teacher, so that each child can progress at his or her own pace.
Having worked with handicapped students for over 15 years, I can think of some small things that would benefit students. In the Keystone Keyboard activity, I would like to see the letter name repeated at least three times before the correct cue is given with a flashing key. In the first level of Dragon Tunes, I would have liked some type of cueing to indicate the keys struck and those missed. And in Magic Mirrors, the shift key is introduced without previous instruction, and then instructions are given only once for each set of names. After the first instruction, there is no further cueing, only non-response to the keystroke without the shift key. I would like to see more cueing on this level.
Overall, I found Kid Keys both helpful and entertaining. I will be using this program with my class to help introduce and improve keyboard and mouse skills, and to introduce writing skills with the Castle Keys activity.
Beverly C. Watson
Panama City, FL
Knowladge Adventure, Inc.
This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2000 issue of THE Journal.