I highly recommend downloading a free and fun interactive drawing and painting program called Tux Paint, open source software designed for kids age 3-12. You can get a version for Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux systems. (Some users’
geeky tech-savvy parents might recognize Tux, the Linux mascot.)
The program offers young artists a variety of brushes (including flowers, animals, and shapes), special effects, text, and colors to use on their virtual canvas. An optional download includes hundreds of photographic and cartoon-image stamps, and some coloring pages are included as well.
Like other children’s software, Tux Paint uses thumbnails to save files rather than filenames, and the interface is simple to navigate. No reading is necessary, as the tool buttons use icons, such as a thumbs down symbol for Undo. Readers can look at Tux’s tips at the bottom of the screen; this feature is like a Clippy for kids, only cuter and much less obtrusive. The sound effects are also fun—for kids anyway!
My 6-year-old loves this program, and I think it’s fun to play around with, too. My daughter loves adding stamps to her creations and using the magic wand, especially the rainbow effect. She also likes using the program to type and illustrate her own stories. Here’s one of her Tux Paint works in progress:
[Originally posted at Shaunarumbling on 7/11/07.]
Update: The web site indicates that a new version of the program is coming in November with more features!