Monday, November 17th, 2008
Buying Guide: Toddler PC Keyboards
When my daughter began dabbling with a computer at age 3, it was with a real one with software of my choosing, not a toy laptop with toddler games.
As indicated in A Home Computer’s Role in Your Family, I’ll never buy a toy computer. I’m introducing computers as tools in the toddler years. Toy and game-based learning will remain in the real world, requiring social interaction.
Each parent wants something different out of a child keyboard. I want no CTRL, ALT, Windows or Application keys because they throw up menus that waylay my 4-year-old. You might want an adult keyboard your child learns to use, but that is slightly tweaked to be kid-friendly. It’s these differing viewpoints that add up to a lack of consensus among keyboard manufacturers, with each one producing something a little different.
Crayola USB EZ Type Keyboard by Crayola
- Color scheme clearly distinguishes letters, numbers, punctuation and other keys.
- Arrow keys oriented correctly.
- No Windows or Application key.
- Child-size mouse also available.
- Compatible for Windows 98 to Vista, Mac OS X 10.1 or higher.
- $24 keyboard, or $40 with mouse.
- Got any?
- A few command keys retained outside a toddler’s finger field, presented in gray on gray in the upper right-hand corner.
- Vowels highlighted in yellow
- Arrow keys oriented correctly (bottom arrow is below the left and right arrows)
- Pressing a key causes only one character to be sent to the PC, no run-on
- Based on the product name, I assume the keys are extra large. This helps kids who lack fine hand motor control.
- Press and hold “F” key to convert number keys to Function keys.
- Company sells trackballs for kids with disabilities.
- Also available with all white keys.
- $159. Linked page has sale as of this writing for $130. Be sure you’re ordering the QWERTY/COLOR version.
- Other keys are inexplicably colorized. GNSZ, DJLRVX, BFQMT. Anyone see a pattern? Unless used in teaching, they negate the future value of having colorized vowels.
- PS2 connector plug, Mac compatible with USB adapter. No OS version-specific information available, but is commonly cited as compatible with 386 PCsÂ (ancient) and thus probably forward compatible.
My First Keyboard by Califone
- Color-coding for vowels, consonants, function keys and numbers.
- A kid-size mouse is also available.
- Oriented toward schoolroom use
- Has Microsoft Office hot keys that are not Mac compatible
- Includes key that shuts your computer off (but not on)
- Detailed online view of key placement not available
- OS compatibility information not found
MyBoard-lc by Chester Creek
- Letters are in lowercase (how they are taught in preschool)
- 1-inch keys. Keyboard is 19″x7″
- Color coding of consonants, vowels, numbers, punctuation and commands.
- Compatibility: Windows 98SE, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, MAC OS 10.1.5 and higher. USB.
- Arrow keys properly oriented.
- Company has several variations for other keyboard needs.
- Got any?
MyPC by Targeted Technology Solutions
- Vastly simplified.
- No punctuation or command keys, definitely oriented as a first keyboard.
- Unusual keyboard shape, in white, pink, green or blue
- Spill-proof, washable, removable cover
- Color coding for consonants, vowels, numbers and arrow keys.
- Child-size mouse included
- Arrow keys oriented like an adult keyboard
- Mac and Windows compatible, no further details on specific OS versions.
MyPC is ideal for toddlers because of its extremely simplified keyboard. Its spill-proof cover is neat, but irrelevant unless you’re a careless parent who lets your toddler snack at the keyboard (this product is aimed at 1-to-4-year-olds).
MyBoard-lc rocks for older toddlers because of its lowercase labeled keys. I wish all of the keyboards used lowercase.
But really, all of these keyboards are pretty good. I didn’t show you the ones that don’t have a QWERTY key layout and other ill-conceived ideas. For most parents the decision probably comes down to price, and that means Crayola.