XO Help: Top 5 Sugar Activities for OLPCorps Ampitso?


The OLPCorps Ampitso team will be working with Malagasy kids from 6 to 12 years of age, but mostly on the lower end of that age group. We'll be in the village of Ambatoharanana, which is almost entirely agriculture-based. The language of the school is English, and it's run by a Canada-based NGO, the Madagascar School Project.

Most Malagasy schools, including the ones we're working at, are taught through call-and-response. Teachers say something, and the children repeat until they've "learned" it, or at least memorized. This method is out of necessity; appropriate books are in short supply. That's one impact the XOs will definitely have - providing a simple method of reading and writing. But that's not enough, and we know that.

XO activities
Which Sugar Activities work the best?

We're trying to come up with some "learning projects", OLPC terminology for educational, constructivist projects that usually engage several programs and may cross subject lines - like integrating math and English. We have some wiggle room as far as curriculum goes; we'll be working with teachers separately on ideas for the school year, and we'll have the kids in a sort of summer camp during July and August.

The teachers are not necessarily college-educated (though the administrators are), and our biggest project will be teacher training. We know we can't change everything, including a traditional method of education, in the 10 weeks we're there.

But we want appropriate activities that are easy for teachers to learn and apply. Several of the teachers have worked with computers before, but a few may not have. Activities like EToys won't necessarily be accessible to them at first, as there are barriers to learning.

Our educational objectives are relatively vague for the summer camp, if only because we recognize that we're not in Madagascar to teach kids (rather, to create the best possible, most sustainable project we can). The XOs will be exciting to use, and we're confident the kids can be creative. We want our learning projects to demonstrate how the XOs can be used as learning tools in the future, beyond reading and writing.

Important concepts for the long-term MSP goals include language skills, conservation awareness, and civic and health education. Madagascar has three official languages (French, English, and Malagasy); the school works in English, and kids speak Malagasy at home. While we won't be teaching French (beyond our scope), reading and writing will improve communication in both.

Conservation is particularly important, as Madagascar's unique biodiversity (many flora and fauna are endemic to the island) are increasingly threatened. Health education will improve living conditions and increase awareness of necessary practices. Civic education will fight the rural isolation, and, in an era where Madagascar's democracy has been repeatedly threatened, increase engagement and empowerment.

Obviously, we can't spin these goals out of thin air in ten weeks. We can, however, work on a framework to engage teachers and students in the true power of the XOs. We're working on creating our own larger learning projects. So, here's where we need ideas:

What are the top five Sugar Activities we should focus on using, and why?

Simply saying "Scratch" and leaving it at that isn't going to help us much. We also probably will not have internet access in the classrooms. We're already working with a few activities, which we'd love help on:

What is your opinion of these activities? Have you used them in a learning situation? In an actual classroom? Are there others that are better?

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My two favorite Activities are Speak and Measure.

With Speak, children can learn spelling, grammar, and pronunciation with an animated face, and as Marayd shows us its fun too!

With Measure, children can learn a whole new way to look at sound. Even parents learn with it, as I did when I watched Kim show us Measure tricks.

It definitely worths getting Speak version 11 from sugarlabs.org instead of the v9 of laptop.org. The AI is really fun and has integrated chat. Works fine with os767/802
Math-wise the GCompris bundles are the only available for the XO. They are a bit slow and luck the collaborative aspect but can be used on individual basis from young kids.

Also these activity might fit in the curriculum.
Geoquiz is fun for basic Africa country recognition.
FlipSticks is nice as introduction to “anatomy” of the human body and motion and integrate into story telling/art projects.
Record is always a hit with young kids and can use the pictures to make nice stories.
WFP2 is a nice game for the older kids and “community development”, thought may not be appropriate for Madagascar.
Physics might be a bit too much is not very intuitive/user friendly yet, lucks the collaborative aspect and is bit buggy.
DrGeo also could be used but is for older kids. It's also basically an E-toys project so if you plan to shy away from E-toys may not worth the effort.

I agree about starting off with E Toys and Scratch. Its a bit too much at the beginning.
We use write in very effective ways.
Many teachers have "completion exercises" where the ask the children to complete a sentence or paragraph on paper. This becomes much more powerful when the activity is shared on XOs. The teacher can ask Mary to complete the sentence and everyone sees her answer. The teacher can then ask Bill to complete it another way. Then the teacher can discuss why Mary and Bill had different answers.

Also, the class can write a story together. Mary can start with the first sentence, Bill can do the second one and so on. That way the whole class is actively engaged in creative writing. Perhaps the class can write a book this way over the year. Lots of good planning exercises to get the structure of the book correct.

The key is in stimulating the teachers to think of such exercises. In our experience, once given the clues, they get it.


I know the boy in the picture, He is in Jalalabad, Afghanistan in the school where 396 laptops are deployed.

I know the boy in the picture, He is in Jalalabad, Afghanistan in the school where 396 laptops are deployed. The students in that school they are very curious, Though it was first deployment in Afghanistan, and the kids most of them didn't know what is a laptop, they learned a lot in a few days.