Friday, October 21, 2011

Keyboard Codes (Spelling Practice with a Homemade Laptop)

My son LOVES the computer, so I’m constantly in search of great online (educational) games for him to play. When I saw Joyful Mama’s post on the felt laptop she made for her daughter, Sweatpea, it jumpstarted my creative juices.

Since we’re still working on spelling those word-wall words my son is bringing home from school (check out Roll & Write for some history on that), I thought a DIY laptop would be perfect!

I knew, though, that if I put a pretend laptop in front of my son and asked him to type the words he would lose interest quickly. To prevent that from happening, I created ciphers (each was a sight word from school) for him to decode using the keyboard. This was SO MUCH fun!

1. Make a DIY Laptop
Use a large flat, rectangular piece of corrugated cardboard (mine was the packaging that came with a 16x20 picture frame I bought recently). Score in the middle so you can fold your laptop. Cut the holes off of an 8 ½ x 11 plastic sheet protector. Use a glue gun to adhere the sleeve above the fold for your laptop’s monitor.

Download and print the keyboard I made (click here). Glue it to your cardboard laptop below the fold. If you want, draw a rectangle below the spacebar for a touchpad.

Next cut another piece of cardboard to make a kickstand to keep your laptop’s monitor from flopping over. Attach to the back of the “monitor” using a glue gun.

2. Read
I love to pair a great book with every activity, so for this one we read Doreen Cronin's Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. It's hilarious!

3. Help Your Child Decipher Keyboard Codes
Pages 2-4 of the keyboard download have sight-word keyboard codes. Give one of these pages to your child along with the laptop.

The two-digit codes are numerical with the first number indicating the row and the second number representing the number of keys in that row that a child will count (from the left). For example, if the code is 33, a child will count down three rows and over three keys; hence, the letter is D.
4. Have Them Type the Sight Words
This was a lot of word work for my son. Once he completed decoding all 12 words from the first worksheet, I told him to find one 2-letter, 3-letter, and 4-letter word and circle each. Then I slipped his completed keyboard codes paper into the monitor’s plastic sleeve and he typed each of those three words.

When this was done, my son had loads of fun playing with his new “toy.” Since I had all the supplies for this activity on hand, I have no doubt that this is the cheapest computer I will ever buy him


  1. Very challenging activity. What a creative way to familiarize a young child with the keyboard letter locations and also work on ciphering skills.

  2. What a great idea! I wish I had found it two weeks ago before we did all of our Click Clack Moo activities though!

    It really is a great activity even without the book tie-in though!

  3. SO clever! And love there is a book too =-)
    Thanks for linking up to Living Life Intentionally Linky Party!

  4. I love that you even incorporated a code game - very clever!

  5. This is genius!! What a great way to practice those sight words. I know my first grader would love this as much as yours. Pinning away! :)

  6. I love the way you explored this book. The code looks like a challenge.

    Thank you for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

  7. What an interesting idea! I doubt that my daughter would choose a pretend computer though if she could hope to lay her hands on a real thing :)

  8. Cute idea! I will have to try this for my son :)