Dance Mat Typing

Game review by
Chad Sansing, Common Sense Media
Dance Mat Typing Game Poster Image
Animal-themed typing practice stuck in rote learning rut.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn how to position their fingers on the home row keys of QWERTY keyboards, where keys are located on the keyboard, and how to type by touch through rote practice. Don't expect much more than a basic introduction to the keyboard, as there's no engagement with paragraph writing or monitoring of words per minute. It's an experience that doesn't add anything new to typing practice, but it's free as well as easy to use and follow, and it covers all the basics.

Positive Messages

Dance Mat Typing is upbeat and features personified animals with diverse ethnic backgrounds as supportive teachers that encourage kids to improve, but it's not focused on much more than typing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The anthropomorphic animal teachers are kind and supportive of kids' typing successes, but the way the game presents their ethnicities sometimes borders on stereotypical.

Ease of Play

New keys are introduced at a reasonable pace as Dance Mat Typing progresses, but the game works best for kids who are ready for typing with strong fine motor skills.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dance Mat Typing is a free online eduacational game from the BBC that teaches kids to type using the home-row technique. Anthropomorphic animal teachers take kids through each of the game's stages, showing them where to place their fingers and which fingers to use to type which keys. At the end of each stage, the teacher and his or her supporting cast bursts into song to celebrate the player's accomplishments. Sometimes the characters' appearances, voices, and dialogue cross over into ethnic, national, and racial stereotypes. As you might expect, the game is much easier at the start than at the end when all the keys come into play. Kids can print certificates after each level that list the keys players have mastered in those stages. All the levels and stages are available from the start of the game, and there's a words-per-minute typing test accessible at the very end of the game.

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What's it about?

Talking animals teach kids to type using the home-row keys as a base. Each stage (except the last) features a unique setting, new characters, and its own set of keys to master. There are three stages in a level and four levels in the game. Each stage is accessible from the start of the game. At the end of each stage, the animal guide sings a musical number for the player. At the end of each level, the player can print a certificate of accomplishment. Players can find a words-per-minute test at the end of the game.

Is it any good?

DANCE MAT TYPING works as typing practice for young children, but it's just that: typing practice. Moreover, the game's window of opportunity for teaching seems small because its graphics and songs seem geared toward kids who might just -- if at all -- be ready for typing. All the animals have been scripted to have their own accents, ethnicities, or nationalities, but some of them also have been drawn and placed in settings that make them seem overtly stereotypical.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can explore the history of printing and typing and compare "keyboards" from the past and present with one another as well as with specialized keyboards, such as Braillers.

  • Up the ante of the game by competing with one another in words-per-minute challenges.

  • Get creative and use your typing skills to create a collaborative story in a shared digital document.

Game details

For kids who love to learn

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