Sugar Tutorial Outline

Table of Contents

1 Goal

Demonstrate the best designed and most interesting Sugar activities.

Remember to choose a variety of activities so that children from each grade get to experiment with ones which are appropriate to their age.

1.1 Introduction to Sugar

1.1.1 Background

OLPC & Sugar have been designed according to the principles of constructionism- children discover and learn through exploration and experimentation during which they build their own mental models about how the world works. This stands in direct contrast to instructionism, model currently used in most schools, when children are given knowledge from the teacher instead of discovering it themselves.

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." - Attributed to Confucius.

What are the design features of Sugar which children will most benefit which are not present in their existing learning environment?

  • The opportunity to share and collaborate. It is through discussion and collaboration that people learn about new ideas and develop them further. Almost all activities are designed to be shared.
  • Emphasis on creative expression: activities rather than programs, objects rather than files
  • Facilitating learning through doing. It is important to have a goal in mind when playing and exploring, however. That's why it's important to provide guided exercises along with the tools.
  • Everyone is a learner and a teacher.

1.1.2 Features of the Graphical Environment


  • Has any of you played with the system and tried the activities?
  • Do you have a favorite Sugar activity? If so, which one?
  • Is anyone familiar with the Terminal?
  • Multiple views: Neighborhood, Group, Home (Favorites and Lists)
    • One can search for other kiddos in the neighborhood, befriend them, and share an activity with them- collaborate with them.
    • One can also search for an activity by text instead of looking for an icon.
  • Journal
    • Journal keeps track of the user's activities on the laptop. Instead of the traditional files & folders model, each activity instance is saved into the Journal and can be resumed at a later time. In that way, the user doesn't need to remember where she saved the file she was working with before and resume the activity from the Journal instead.
    • Users can edit the metadata of a Journal entry: title, description, tags…
    • When a new activity is downloaded as an .xo file, it can be installed from the Journal
  • Customization
    • Make your own personal icon by choosing a dual-color scheme. The entire system is then shown in the chosen colors.
  • Helpful keyboard shortcuts
    • Screen capture: Alt-1
    • Copy & Paste: Ctrl-C & Ctrl-V
      • copied text is available in graphical clipboard
    • Switch among activities: Alt-Tab
  • Misc
    • Frame shows the status indicators of the system and all open activities.
    • Can change the language of the interface to enhance learning a new language (English, Hindi, French etc.)
    • Those who are curious can view the source code of any activity on the system (Fn-Space)
    • Do not open too many activities at the same time- really slows down the system
    • Text-to-speech feature can be used to pronounce English words (less useful with text)
    • Document sharing is very easy (when it works)
    • Journal Share activity can be used by teachers to distribute assignments to children (demonstrate)
    • Since the Journal only keeps track of the latest state of the activity, one way to save existing work is by right-clicking and selecting on the Journal entry and selecting duplicate
    • Grayscale mode to significantly extend the battery time and improve reading experience with lights off (`echo 1 > /sys/devices/platform/dcon/monochrome`)

1.2 Introduction to interesting Sugar activities

Resources for Sugar activities:

Activities Repository
Intro Slides by Tony Anderson

1.2.1 Easy

  • Clock
    • activity
      • use the hand to set the clock to different times and ask kids to say the time in English
      • press the mouth button to check if they said it correctly
      • ask them to write down the time in English
      • press the text button to check if they were correct
  • Speak
    • can be used as a tool to learn English pronounciation
    • activity
      • have them pronounce their name and their favorite word
      • write down words which are somewhat challenging for them to pronounce and have them verify their pronunciation by typing the word in the activity
      • have them experiment with the pitch and rate of speaking
  • Memorize activity (
    • a very simple game to find a match of two tiles
    • demonstrate activity sharing and encourage kids to create their own cards with multimedia which is meaningful to them
    • try making new cards with text, sounds, and pictures
    • activity
      • learn new words (animals in English, for example) by creating word & picture pairs
    • activity
      • look up definitions of words in a dictionary and add them to the activity
  • Record ( (use XO-4)
    • take photos, video, audio
    • pictures taken are shared in collaboration mode
    • activity
      • have each kiddo take a photo of themselves
      • rename it in the Journal
      • open it in Paint and put write their name in it, perhaps even embellish it
    • activity
      • share photos created with the class using Journal Share
  • Foto Toon
    • illustrates the idea of using multiple activities to create a project.
    • activity
      • import pictures of themselves taken with record
      • ask them to create a short story by adding captions to the pictures
      • customizability: they can change the color, size, font of the text
  • Chat (
    • Precondition: All XOs need to be connected to the same network.
    • activity
      • To demonstrate the difference between a private and a public activity, create one private chat instance and invite your friend to join. Then create a new public chat instance, visible to everyone on the network. Chat simultaneously with a friend in private as well as with a group in public.
  • Write
    • activity
      • A kid writes a story
      • Her friend can give her feedback
  • Paint
  • Maze
  • Letters (not preinstalled on 13.2.0)

1.2.2 Intermediate

  • Stopwatch & Chart
    • introduction to the basics of working with statistical data
    • activity
      • in a PE class, measure how long it takes to run 100 m with the StopWatch activity
      • import the measurements into the Chart activity
      • experiment with various chart types, change the chart labels
      • export the chart as an image
      • open the image from the Journal
  • Distance (
    • Learn about different distance units
    • Accurate to 1 cm within 10 meters
    • activity
      • demonstrate by placing two laptops facing each other at about the same height
      • try changing units from m to cm or feet
      • try changing temperature and humidity- does the distance change? if so, how much?
  • TamTam Mini
  • TamTam Jam
    • TamTam Suite Information
  • Jump
    • a very addictive yet simple game
  • Terminal

1.2.3 Advanced

  • Physics
    • see existing projects:
    • Can be used by young children as well as older ones
    • activity
      • Try dropping 2 different mass objects at the same time.
      • Experiment with pendulums of different lengths and masses.
      • Make a blender
      • Create a dancing puppet
      • Ping pong, can you make a device that hits a ball back and forth across the screen?

1.2.4 Introduction to Programming

  • Portfolio
    • Star your TurtleArt projects, open Portfolio, add your comments, and export them into PDF
  • E-Toys
    • see tutorial to get started
  • Scratch
  • Pippy
    • includes sample projects which could be used to teach introductory Python programming

1.3 How to Report a Bug

  • Go to, the Sugar ticketing system (You need to have an account to be able to report bugs)
  • Review "Bug Reporting Tutorial"
  • Click "New Ticket" to report a bug

1.4 Any Questions, Comments?

Date: 2014-02-06T16:05+0545

Author: Martin Dluhos

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