Pros:FUN, plenty of creative possibilities
Cons:pedantic design, hardware issues
The Bottom Line: A great program for kids used to computer drawing programs. More care needs to be taken to reach kids who can't read or speak English.
KID PIX is an interactive drawing and painting program published by Broderbund. The program is sold on the Windows platform as well as the MAC OS 9 and OSX environments to the tune of $30.
Minimum requirements are relatively low. Youll need a CD-rom drive, at least a 233 Mhz CPU, about 500 MB of Hard Disk space (for full install) and a basic video card that offers at least 16 bit color. If youre running Mac, youll need at least OS8 with a G3 CPU or better.
Optional peripherals include a printer, a microphone and a scanner. You may also want to have storage media such as CDRs or DVDRs if you want to create videos or large projects.
WHAT CAN THE CHILDREN DO?
Kid Pix 4s main opening section is simply a white canvas. With this, children can use the pencil, pen, crayon or marker icons to paint or draw pictures in much the same way you would on MS Paint. All drawing is done free handed with the mouse, however, there are some basic shape making tools so you can make perfect circles, perfect squares, or perfect ovals (as well as other shapes).
Ive used this program with learning disabled children and physically disabled
they enjoy it because it allows them to express themselves through artwork. Naturally, as youd be using this program on a computer, the cost of the materials is negligible. You can draw or paint as much as you want save, delete, email it, whatever with very very low operating costs. If you wish to print pictures, you can send the pics to a printer and create hard copies.
If you have a microphone, you can add your voice to the picture file and thereby create a slideshow that you are explaining frame-by-frame. Very cool !
There is a system called MOOPIES which allows you to animate special animated stamps on the page, while the background drawing remains stationary. There is also WACKY TV which allows you to view movie files and decide if you want to include them in your presentation. The Movie Files can be imported in common formats such as avi. And wmv.
Children who are either young or physically disabled will get used to coordinating their hands to draw with the mouse in the freehanded drawing mode. There are plenty of colors, effects, stamps and other goodies to add to pictures. There are also lots of sound clips which range from spooky house (for a picture of a spooky house, to pirates fighting which can be used in a fight scene. Some kids will forgo drawing altogether and just sit there playing with the different sound files.
WHATS NOT SO GREAT
The main problem I have with Kid Pix 4 is that some of the editing tools are pedantic in the eyes of PRE K, Kindergarten or other young grader who cannot read, or havent used a paint program before. It would take a very skilled teacher to help the Kids learn even the basic tools and symbols.
For example. It isnt enough to simply click a paint bucket to fill a blank area. Youve got to pick a pattern and then a bucket fill style this is just so you dont end up filling the page. Try explaining that to a Pre K kid.
Why is their no basic easy mode for the youngest children? Doesnt it make sense to have a mode for children who are learning/physical disabled so they can practice coordination of the hand when using the mouse to draw?
Screen resolution is also a big problem I have on MAC OS X 10.3.9. Kid Pix demands 800 x600 to run. Normally your resolution would be much higher on an eMAC (or most other computers). A lab teacher who attempts to close all computers with Remote Desktop wont be able to auto-close Kid Pix if its running because it refuses to close out until it is manually quitted.
Furthermore, the screen resolution can cause problems with video hardware and crash the program which is very frustrating for kids who dont know how to read yet since they arent sure what the error messages say.
Kid Pix 4 also uses its own file type. This file cannot be opened by Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and many other student programs you might want to use to create displays. I wanted a digital photoframe to display student work, but, the frames can usually only work with JPEG images. Kid Pix wont create JPEG or GIF images. It will only create images with the .KPX format.
Id also hoped the system would be a little more verbal. It has cleverly detailed picture icons, but, it doesnt tell you want you can do with them or what they are. The makers need to design these programs towards kids who cant read, spell or in many cases, understand English.
OVERALL Kid Pix offers plenty of creative possibilities to a technology educator and is also a great program for home use. Just know, this program has a lot of depth to it and you need to be computer literate and drawing literate to get going. Its already in use in a wide range of tech classes for good reason: its fun!
Pick up a copy for your class and share it between computers using your network server.
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