Summer’s Here!

Well, it’s almost here for St. Martin’s students. Are you are looking for fun (and educational) things to do this summer for free or minimal cost? Research dating back over 100 years has shown that students will often lose a month or more of the academic skills they gained the previous year during the summer months.

Check out our Summer Learning page for ideas on things you can do this summer both virtually and physically to combat the “summer slide” and they’re fun, too! This page also has information about logging on to various websites with the student login information sent home for the summer.

July 24 Update: Scratch Camp was just added to the list of resources. This starts today and runs through August 13th. All rising 2nd-8th grade students have Scratch accounts they can use to participate in this online coding camp.

Welcome to Open House

Welcome to the St. Martin’s Computer Lab whether you are reading this during Open House or visiting the blog at another time.

This blog is updated approximately once a month with information about what is happening in the St. Martin’s Computer lab. If you want to know what’s happening up to the minute in the lab, you can visit our Virtual Computer Lab and click on the appropriate grade level.

Make sure you check out our Travel Scrapbook for many of the projects that we have completed during the year. This is organized with the latest projects on the top of the page and as you scroll down, you go back in time through the year.

Summer Learning Ideas

Did you know that many students lose more than 2 months of knowledge over the summer and all children experience some learning loss if they do not engage in educational activities during the summer? So, while summer is a time for fun, there should also be time for educational activities. Here are some suggestions of things you could do with your child this summer for both fun and learning:

  • Visit the library and read – not just what is required for the summer reading but other books that interest your child. Why not learn about something new with your child? Check back here for a fun idea of something you can do after your child reads their summer reading book!
  • Visit museums, aquariums or other attractions that educate as well as entertain.
  • Spend some time visiting some of our What Can I Do When I’m Done Sites – these are all sites that have educational value as well as fun activities. Please make sure that your children are supervised if they are using the Internet!

I would highly encourage consistent typing practice (10-15 minutes at least every other day) for any St. Martin’s Middle School student who is not typing at least 25 words per minute and it never hurts for younger students to practice typing too. Knowing the keyboard and being able to touch type is a skill that will help both in Middle School and beyond. This should be supervised to insure that your child is using correct posture, hand positioning and is trying to type without looking at the keys.

How can you practice typing over the summer? You can purchase and install a typing program such as Mavis Beacon which costs about $20 but there are free online typing lessons available. Many of these sites do have ads though some of these sites have a premium option which you can purchase that will remove the ads. Here are some free typing sites with lessons:

  • – Lessons, Graphs to track progress, typing games. This site requires registration and can be ad free for a $5 one-time donation. You can customize the look of your background and some other features.
  • – 27 lessons. This site requires registration.
  • Learn 2 Type – This site has various excercises, preformance charts, typing speed tests and more. Lots of ads and it’s a little difficult to know exactly where you are in your typing knowledge. Registration is required. There is a pay option to get rid of ads.
  • – This site has lessons, games & speed tests. You can use this site to see what speed you are currently typing at. I recommend using at least a 2-minute speed test and any of the following lessons: 9, 11, 13, 26-30. We often use this site in class to test speed.
  • PowerTyping – Simple typing lessons where you can type to music to encourage rhythmic typing. Records your WPM on each lesson and assigns a grade.
  • Sense-Lang – A simple site with lessons starting with the home row. This site also allows you to paste text from anywhere and practice typing using that text. This is a nice feature since it practices real typing rather than just random words or letter combinations.
  • Custom Typing Training – This is a subscription site for $7/month but you can sign up for a free 4 week trial. You must have a credit or debit card for this free trial. This site is unique because it does not use the traditional homerow approach to teach typing. For students that seem to be having a hard time with typing, this could be a solution since it approaches typing from a different way.
  • NimbleFingers – This site has online typing tests and a typing program you can download called Word Wacker. This is a free to try program. Read the Tent Trick here for information on how to make a cover for your child’s hands and for information on when your child should move on from the Home Row. And, check out the Healthy Typing section for some exercises to prevent carpal tunnel.
  • E-Learning For Kids – May be a little young for most middle schoolers but this is a fun animated course.
  • Dance Mat Typing – Fun Characters and songs to introduce Touch Typing for children 7-11 years old from the BBC. This might be a little young for most middle schoolers but it has fun characters. No speed feedback until all lessons are completed.