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Weekend Website #49: Tux Paint

Every Friday I’ll send you a wonderful website that my classes and my parents love. I think you’ll find they’ll be a favorite of your students as they are of mine.

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Tux Paint--the free KidPix

Age:

Kindergarten-3rd grade

Topic:

Art, keyboarding

Address:

Tux Paint

Review:

In my classroom, we use KidPix. It’s a wonderful program to introduce students to tools, toolbars, text, drag-and-drop mouse skills and all the basics required to use the computer. It’s the gold standard for acclimatizing children to computers. Students always love it and parents always want to know how to get it for them.

I often recommend software to parents and students, but at the forefront of my thoughts is a concern about equity issues. What if the software I so casually suggest is not affordable to the parents? What if I get them excited about it and it is outside of their price range? While I might consider KidPix pretty reasonable, maybe they don’t or they’ll have to juggle this or that to get it for their child who has fallen in love with it? As a result, every time I recommend KidPix–the program my kindergartners through second graders spend hours and hours on every year, I also tell parents about TuxPaint.

Why? Because I am told TuxPaint is just as good as KidPix and it’s free. It’s an award-winning drawing program for children ages 3 to 12 that combines an easy-to-use interface, fun sound effects, and an encouraging cartoon mascot who guides children as they use the program. It works on Windows, Mac, Linux and more. The icons are intuitive, and audible feedback helps use the software.I know a lot of teachers who use it as the staple in their lab. The only problem I’ve heard from them is saving. TuxPaint saves everything into one folder rather than several student folders. Because I am considering switching from KidPix to TuxPaint, I’m already coming up with work-arounds for this issue (like screen shots; even a kindergartner is not too young to learn PrintKey 2000 or Jing).

I’ve used the demo, but not taken to leap in my school lab. Anyone out there with real life experience with this program? I’d appreciate your input.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.


9 thoughts on “Weekend Website #49: Tux Paint

  1. We love Tux Paint at our school. We use the config TuxPaint to redirect the saving into each students My Documents folder. Tux makes a new folder called saved in the drive that we redirect it too. It is a great program and my favourite part is the multiple “Undo” opposed to the dynamite on KidPix.

    • You mean students can undo more than one step? That is reason alone to use TuxPaint. That ‘no-no-no’ button is the bain of my class! Thanks for dropping by.

  2. We use Tux Paint in our school too. Just like Lois we direct Tux Paint to save into their MyDocuments (each class has its own login- so they are all saved to the same place). As students finish, save and close, I have them meet with me to identify their picture and I label their picture with their name. Sometimes it’s as easy as making sure they type their name on their picture (but that doesn’t work for all projects).

    The multiple undo button is GREAT! It also has a redo feature, that will put back anything erased by mistake. The Magic button is fun and it’s where the fill bucket is located.

    We’re still trying to figure out how to save pictures made by older students (our 5th graders have their own logins and we can’t get it to point to their virtual locker). To work around this, we did use Jing to copy pictures.

    I always hated kids bombing their pictures in Kid Pix… the Tux Paint switch was the right move for our district!

    • Great feedback, Jessica. I’d love to hear from others who have switched from KidPix to TuxPaint, see if their experience is the same. We’re looking at renewing KidPix or switching for next year. Thanks, Jessica and Lois.

  3. I have a K-6 lab and we LOVE Tux Paint. The kids love the “magic” tools and the stamps. It is the program the kids pick to use more than anything else when they have free time.

    I have no experience with KidPix, so I can’t compare, but Tux Paint is so easy to use that I have never really felt the need to pay for KidPix. Each student in our school has their own login (except K) so I set Tux Paint on all the computers to save to our shared school folder. Then, if students want to keep their picture in their own network folder they can just drag and drop their picture from the shared network folder to their individual folder. I try to have the students put their names on their pictures to help identify them. Otherwise, we are a small school and it is fairly easy to figure out who the pictures belong to.

    • Thanks for the input, Cindy. I’m starting to wonder why we ever purchased KidPix. It sounds like Tux Paint is just as good. I like that KP helps students learn drag-and-drop, resizing with the handles of stickers, use of text. I imagine TP does all of that?

  4. I used KidPix at a former school and everyone K-8 loved it. The slide show feature led the younger students right into PowerPoint.
    The more versions upgrades have gotten too complex and cutesy for me. I loved the older versions when it was a clean simple interface.

    I NEVER like the dynamite eraser too… but the kids LOVED it!

    Now my school uses Tux Paint and the price is right!

    The K-5 students all love it.

    I do not have the permissions to change how it is save. I need to talk to the tech support to see if they can change that.

    I am teaching my 2nd graders to do a screen dump, then past it into Paint (“Grown Up Paint”). They’ve almost got it.

    1st graders are learning the screen dump/Paint past, but might not get it together this school year.

    K cannot do it.

    Currently, any student can delete a Tux Pint picture at any time they want. (either by choice or accidentally)
    The younger students ALWAYS want to save, and are so disappointed when it is gone next time they arrive!

    • That’s my biggest issue with TP–the save function. My first graders learn to save to the network–drilling down through the layers, so I think pushing scr-print, then selecting the rectangle to outline their picture (we have PrintKey 2000 as our screen print program), then save should work with some help. K–I may do most of that for them as I do now. Yes–that ss feature in KP is great for a lead-in to PP. I guess TP doesn’t have it? Thanks for you input. It’s much appreciated.

  5. I got this comment from Bill Kendrick, the creator of TuxPaint, and wanted to share it with readers. He explains a good work-around for saving pictures on TuxPaint:

    Hi Jacqui, thanks for sharing Tux Paint with your readers!

    Regarding Tux Paint’s saving & loading, we realize this is an issue, especially in school labs. There are a few existing solutions one can try, depending on the lab and network set-up.

    One is to simply use a network drive as the default place for Tux Paint to save and load. This is useful if each student gets their own log-in, and their own personal files appear at the same place (e.g., an “H:” drive on Windows). Configure Tux Paint to save to that location… the path (e.g., “H:\TuxPaint\”) will appear identical, but where that maps will depend on which student is logged in.

    Another is to use a little helper tool I came up with a number of years ago. It takes advantage of the fact that Tux Paint can receive options — including where it loads and saves — on its command-line. (e.g., from an MSDOS shell window, or from inside a batch (“.BAT”) file, you can issue “tuxpaint.exe –savedir=C:\some\folder\”).

    You set up the helper tool by creating a little plain text file (“.txt”), using e.g., Notepad, which gives it a list of names and locations. The names could be students’ names (Alice, Bob, Carol), classes (1st Grade, 2nd Grade), teachers (Mr. X, Mrs. Y), etc. The locations are where to save the files (e.g., “N:\shared-folder\alice\”, “C:\tuxpaint\1stgrade\”, etc.)

    Instead of launching Tux Paint directly from its icon, students (or teachers or classroom assistants) use this helper, choose the appropriate answer, and in turn the helper launches Tux Paint with the appropriate option. Other settings from its configuration file (which you can manipulate directly, e.g. in Notepad, or by using the “Tux Paint Config.” graphical tool) will continue to be respected.

    Finally, another simple trick is to just make Tux Paint’s standard save directory easier to access or more obvious. You can do this by reconfiguring it (e.g., using the aforementioned Tux Paint Config.) to save somewhere else (e.g., C:\Documents and Files\Desktop\ or whatever it’s called on Windows), or by simply creating a Windows “shortcut” to Tux Paint’s default directory. (i.e., a “tuxpaint” shortcut on the desktop that points to C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\TuxPaint\saved)

    Now, in the end, we realize that work-arounds are not always going to be suitable for schools. You teachers are all quite busy! So down the road (probably not the next version of Tux Paint, but the one after that? — realize this is a 100% volunteer-driven project!) we’ll provide a way to access files directly via the Open and Save buttons. We’ll keep the current standard of “magically saving in a mysterious location”, since the last thing I want is junior trashing mom and dad’s tax paperwork, but provide it as an option you can enable (just like you can turn sound effects off, disable the Print button, etc.)

    Here’s the little helper tool I mentioned: ftp://ftp.tuxpaint.org/unix/x/tuxpaint/savedir/

    Whew! Long post, sorry about that! Hope it helps, and enjoy!!!

    -bill!
    (creator & lead developer of Tux Paint… now a very busy father of a 4yo!)

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