Learning journey – Getting started on Open Source, the PPIS way

March 14, 2011

Simpler Open Source programs for younger children

Category: Main – Tags: – suhaw – 4:45 pm

A good starting point not to reinvent the wheel is to learn from others who have walked this path before, such as the people who created Qimo4kids:
(Note: If you are already running Ubuntu 10.04, there’s no need do a fresh install to get Qimo. Now you can add the qimo-session package from the Universe repository using Apt-get or Synaptic and you’ll get all of the games, artwork, and desktop session installed.)

Another source of inspiration is Edubuntu.


  • Explore the stars – KStars is a Desktop Planetarium that provides an accurate graphical simulation of the night sky. The program includes details for 130000 stars, 13000 deep-sky objects and all of the planets. KStars has an easy to use interface, so it can be used by everyone, from amateurs through to astronomy experts. You will also find a great deal of general information regarding telescopes and other astronomy related matter.
  • Research the periodic table – Kalzium is a package for discovering and researching information about the periodic table and the elements. It includes pictures for most of the 111 elements present, along with more detailed information including atomic models, spectrum analysis, chemical data and energies.
  • Test your chemistry skills – Atomix is a puzzle game, the purpose of which is to make up the molecule displayed from the pieces scattered throughout the level. You can only move them up, down, left and right and they don’t stop moving until they hit something.


  • Program in Logo – KTurtle is a Logo programming language interpreter. The Logo programming language is very easy to learn and thus it can be used by young children. A unique quality of Logo is that the commands or instructions can be translated, so the ‘programmer’ can program in his or her native language. This makes Logo ideal for teaching kids the basics of programming, mathematics and geometry. One of the reasons many children warm to Logo is due to fact that the programmable icon is a small turtle, which can be moved around the screen with simple commands and can be programmed to draw objects.
  • Create geometric constructions – Kig is a allows teachers and students to create high precision geometrical constructions. These can be built on and used to explain concepts like perpendicular bisectors, tangents and arcs.
  • Plot mathematical equations – KmPlot? is a mathematical function graphing and plotting package. KmPlot? has a built in a powerful expression parser and you can plot different functions simultaneously and combine their terms to build more complex mathematical functions. It supports functions with parameters and functions in polar coordinates. Plots may also be printed with high precision.
  • Calculate percentages – KPercentage is a mathematical application that helps pupils improve their skills in calculating percentages. Percentages are split into three types and KPercentage tests pupils on these in three training modes. In addition to this, there is a random mode which will pick questions from each of the three percentage question variations.
  • Practice Fractions – KBruch is a small program to help pupils practice calculations involving fractions. There are four different types of fraction exercise:
          o Exercise Fraction Task; where pupils have to solve a given fraction task
          o Exercise Comparison; where pupils have to compare 2 given fractions sizes
          o Exercise Conversion; where pupils have to convert an already given number into a fraction
          o Exercise Factorization; where pupils have to factorize a given number into its prime factor
  • Play at Math – TuxMath? is an educational arcade game starring Tux, the Linux mascot! Based on the classic arcade game “Missile Command,” Tux must defend his cities by solving arithmetic problems.


  • Tux Paint – Tux Paint is a free drawing program designed for young children. The program provides an easy to use interface with fun sound effects and an encouraging cartoon mascot that gives help to children while they are painting.
  • Generate Fractals – Xaos is a fractal generator with a whole host of extra features for teaching pupils about fractal patterns.


  • Play Hangman – KHangman is the classic hangman game with pupils try to guess a word, letter by letter. At each miss, the picture of a hangman is added to. After 10 incorrect tries the game is over.

Basic Skills

  • Generate and give tests – KEduca is an educational testing package, allowing teachers to create tests for pupils to take. KEduca includes a module for constructing and saving new tests, as well as a separate module for loading and running the exams. Questions can be enhanced with images, multiple choice answers with varying grades, and time limits.
  • Learn touch typing – KTouch helps pupils to learn to type quickly and correctly. With many different modes and detailed reporting, KTouch truly makes learning touching typing easily.
  • Gcompris – Gcompris (http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/learning-gcompris) is a suite of over 80 educational games and activities for kids age 4 to 10 to learn with. These include:
          o computer discovery: keyboard, mouse
          o algebra: table memory, enumeration, double entry table, mirror image
          o science: the canal lock, the water cycle, the submarine, electric simulation
          o geography: place the country on the map
          o games: chess, memory, connect 4, oware, sudoku
          o reading: reading practice
          o other: learn to tell time, puzzle of famous paintings, vector drawing

(Source: http://edubuntu.org/UsingEdubuntu)


Childsplay is a ‘suite’ of educational games for young children, comprising: Memory, Lower Case Memory, Upper Case Memory, Numbers Memory, Sound Memory, Fishtank, Find Characters, Falling Letters, Puzzle, Find Sound, Flashcards, Pong, PackId? and Billiard.

Childsplay provides several features for users and developers of activities:

  • memory activities that are fun to play and at the same time learn sounds, images, letters and numbers.
  • activities that train the child to use the mouse and keyboard.
  • pure game activities like puzzles, pong, pacman and billiards.
  • multilingual support, even right to left languages (via Pango).
  • solid data logging to monitor the children’s progress; locally (SQLite) or over network (MySQL or any other db supported by SQLAlchemy).
  • set of OpenOffice? reports to print this data (still in development state).
  • object oriented framework for easy activity development in Python/PyGame?.
  • good support by the developers and translators.


The KDE Education Project



Blinken is the KDE version of the well-known game Simon Says. Follow the pattern of sounds and lights as long as you can! Press the start game button to begin. Watch the computer and copy the pattern it makes. Complete the sequence in the right order to win.


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