Where to start? Simple project.

I want to take a sturdy computer keyboard, add a speaker and a board, and have it "say" the name of a key when it's pressed. This is to be a Christmas present for my two year old daughter, who is always trying to commandeer my keyboard to practice her letters.

There are lots of educational toys out there that whistle and beep and music and have flashing lights and screens and colors and I don't want those. I worry about whether she gets too much screen time already, with her daily dose of My Little Pony, so the last thing I want is a screen toy. The beeps and boops and noise making toys sell because they temporarily hold kids' attention, and then the kids get bored with and forget the toys usually just a while after the parents have gotten a migraine tuning out the sound effects.

An educational toy for a toddler should be simple. The motivation to play with it should come from what it is and not some light show. Since I can't find anybody who sells it, I want to make it myself.

I've never done something like this before, but I think I'm in the right place. How does this work? You get a board, hook it up to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse load some version of Linux, and write a program for it? Can it be simpler than that? Which board should I start with?

edit: I should give my background briefly. I've programmed for years in C++, just as a hobby. When I hear of some fancy new language feature, I usually learn it. I know the basics of electricity, but my calculus is so rusty it's not mine anymore. No solid state knowledge. No assembly experience. I just don't want to buy the wrong board and miss Christmas.

This may be a rush job for Xmas!

Search for arduino keyboard connections as this has been covered by others. Do the job in stages. Get the Arduino and keyboard working then get onto the next bit.

What are you using for the text to speech conversion?

Weedpharma

I figured that I'd just read input and map keys to audio files on a micro SD, then the audio files will be text to speech saying the name of the letter, number, or key. Alphabetic characters will then be pitch-shifted so that if they're played in order, it sings the ABC song.

I think the Yun will work in a straightforward way without any soldering. So, the next thing to figure out is how to power it with a battery.

Using the Yen will be more pricey and is kind of cheating since it runs Linux, but it should work.