How to Teach Keyboarding in Lower School

I get more questions on teaching keyboarding than any other topic. I’ve posted many columns on it…


Tech class keyboarding

…but I thought I’d summarize for you how I do it and then get your routine.

My keyboarding curriculum is all home work. Students type ten minutes a week, forty minutes a month as homework using either TTL4, Dance Mat Typing or Typing Web. Occasionally in class, we go to Test Your Typing and check on speed and accuracy. I use a blank keyboard as an ungraded quiz so students can gauge their own progress in remembering where keys are (students work in groups of three, sitting away from the keyboards, and fill in as many keys as they can remember. My best score so far is 66/72 and that from an eighth grade geek).

I also have wall charts of student progress based on TTL4’s teacher access and a wall chart of class ‘speedsters’—those students who have met or exceeded grade level standards for keyboarding. Once a trimester, we take a speed/accuracy quiz to check progress. Those who meet the grade level standard get a Free Dress pass (we wear uniforms at school).

My grade level requirements are:

K-2    introduce, learn which hand to use and start to understand which finger

3rd    15 wpm

4th    25 wpm

5th    30 wpm

6th    35 wpm

7th    40 wpm

8th    45 wpm

What do you do to get students comfortable in the use of the keyboard? What works best? What standards do you work toward?


Categories: fifth grade, first grade, fourth grade, Keyboarding, Kindergarten, second grade, teacher resources, third grade | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “How to Teach Keyboarding in Lower School

  1. Dear Jacqui,

    I just started teaching typing to our kdg. & 1st gr. students. Ask a Tech Teacher has been invaluable to me as I have to develop my own curriculum–no budget. I made up a song to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle to teach the home row keys. The students learned it quickly and it really helped them. Thanks so much for all the help.

    • That’s a great idea. I love it! I might steal that–with your permission of course. Kids love music. The mouse song is a favorite my k and 1 always go back to. Thanks for dropping by. I don’t get a lot of visitors.

  2. I’m going to post a question I got from a reader because I believe it’s an inquiry many of you share:

    Message: I am a computer teacher for 3 and 4 year olds, as well as Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders. I usually begin introducing the home row keys to my Kindergarten students towards the end of the school year but I really concentrate more on keyboarding with my 1st and 2nd. I also teach computer parts and terminology as well as basic MS Word instruction. My question is…What should I concentrate more on, in what order, and with what age group?

    My answer: You’re doing fine. Start kindergarten on getting their hands on the keyboard, understanding there’s a difference between keys and sides, that posture is important. By first grade, I focus on hands on the correct side, think about fingers, speed and accuracy is important, but no drills on which finger where. That starts in 2nd grade as an intro and 3rd-5th with tests. I teach computer parts, terminology, problem solving, internet–all starting in Kindergarten. they are little sponges. By fifth grade, they get it all.

    Thanks for the question.

  3. Ashley Lafleur

    How do I buy your books?

  4. eholmes2011

    I am the technology teacher at a K-4 charter school this year. I have continued what the teacher before me started because the kids absolutely love it. They took old keyboards, painted them gold and we now have the “Golden Keyboard Award” monthly at our character assemblies. The winner is chosen in the following way: All 4 third grade classes and all 4 fourth grade classes take the free typing test online. I allow them to take it as many times as they like during the class period that we are testing, but they may only print one certificate to turn in with their time on it. I put the results into an Excel spreadsheet and find out which class in the 3rd and 4th grades each had the highest average WPM score. That is the class that wins the “Golden Keyboard Award”. They get a golden keyboard to hang in their room for the month. It has a small picture frame hot glued to it with colored gemstones glued on and in the frame is a month by month list of who won the keyboard and the average wpm. This year I started a Golden Key Award as well, to honor the individual(s) that had the highest WPM in their individual classes. This seems to really encourage the kids to continue to try their best even when the class as a whole may not win the keyboard. Our kids have keyboarding once a week for 30 minutes and the “test” day is one of those Fridays per month.

    • I love this idea. If you’d be interested in writing a guest post for me, with pictures, I’d be thrilled to post it.

  5. Pingback: Touch-Typing Tutor Tools for Teaching Keyboarding in the Classroom « ICT for Teaching & Learning in Falkirk Primary Schools

  6. Pingback: How to Teach Keyboarding in Lower School | Recursos Educativos Online |

  7. Candice

    This is my first year teaching in the computer lab. I was looking for a fun way to teach keyboarding to the kids so after some research decided we would start with a Keyboard Bootcamp. This will last 3 weeks. The students in 3-4 will set personal goals and track their own progress. Each week they will have group activities to build their collaboration skills as well as individual work. We are using a FREE online site to work on home row keys. After the 3 weeks, we are going to take a week to get ready for our Keyboard Olympics by researching the site where the Olympics will be held, history of the Olympics, and what sports compete during the winter Olympics. This will lead us up to the first week in February where we will hold our own Opening Ceremony for the Keyboard Olympics. Each class will become a country. Each “country” will compete against the others in that grade.( the will have different typing activities/ lessons to complete each day) I am not really looking for the fastest group, but will be recording the data for each student and then compiling it into class tables. I am looking for growth, accuracy, and if the class met the typing goal for the grade level. We will end with closing ceremonies and awarding each class with different awards.

  8. I’m really struggling with how to teach 3rd and 4th graders to type. We are using the typingmaster program. I like it, but I’m finding that the kids aren’t getting enough practice with the basics before being asked to move on. I don’t know what to do. I am happy to see the speeds you require for each grade. Ours are NOWHERE near that. I was wondering what kind of accuracy you require at those speeds. I think I’m doing something wrong…help!!

    • Hi Shannon. The key to keyboarding expertise is using it. Drill sites are a great start, but they aren’t enough. You want to use keyboarding in authentic projects like reports and essays, in games (where students forget their practicing), in communication tools like blogging and websites. As students use keyboarding, they discover 1) they want to keyboard better, to make these activities easier, 2) that keyboarding isn’t a class thing–it’s for everything.

      I’ve written a lot of posts about keyboarding here (I moved this website to a new home at I hope you’ll subscribe–lots of info there). Some highlights:
      This one on how to teach keyboarding once a week–what you’re doing
      a quick overview
      keyboarding apps–if you use iPads
      a grade-by-grade run down of how to teach keyboarding
      a slew of resources from curricula to student workbooks to video training

      Let me know what you think after you’ve reviewed some of these. Once again–the key is using it in all classes. If you’re trying to prepare students for PARC or Smarker Balanced testing in Spring, your colleagues will want to participate in the effort.

  9. Wyayn

    Do you have any suggestions for kids who have developed substitute patterns for using home row keys? Many of our 5-7th graders have learned how to hunt and peck quickly and are resisting using the correct fingers on the home row. Ultimately this will limit their speed, but they don’t see that consequence yet. Help.

    • The goal of keyboarding is twofold: 1) to keep up with the student’s thoughts and, 2) not interfere with that creative process. Students should be able to type while they’re thinking, put their ideas onto the page without interrupting what’s buzzing through their brains. It should be an invisible tool in support of their learning–like handwriting. If they’re hunting and pecking (albeit quickly), they are searching for keys rather than collecting their thoughts. If they’re typing from a print copy (which is becoming less common in classrooms, but still there), their head is bobbing between the right place on the page and the keyboard.

      Few hunt-and-peckers exceed 20 wpm, and studies show that students need in excess of 20wpm to keep up with their thoughts. For some of your students, this simple, logical math will convince them. Additionally, hunt-and-peck speed for most tops out at 15-20 wpm (let’s say it rarely exceeds the speed of handwriting, which is 25-35 wpm for 5th grade). Touch typing speed pretty much doesn’t top out. Middle schoolers who have practiced typing easily reach 45-75 wpm. Apply this speed to authentic uses of typing, such as homework and classwork. Wouldn’t they like to finish earlier?

      The buy-in to this concept is the first step: Do they agree with the goals of touch typing? Do they think hunt-and-peck satisfies the goals?

      Do a few experiments with them. Make it a scientific experiment as they are used to in science class. Here’s an example where my classes compared handwriting vs. keyboarding Here are student pros and cons to handwriting vs. keyboarding.

      Having said that, I usually allow students to type any way they wish if they can type without looking at the keyboard–eyes on screen or paper. I’ve seen some really fast hunt-and-peckers who use a hybrid approach of touch and pecking to type. I’m OK with that if it works for them.

      I’ve moved this site to a new location: You’ll find lots more keyboarding resources there!

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