Developing Sugar Activities Using HTML5

Using HTML in a Sugar Activity is not new. The Wikipedia Activity has been embedding HTML contents for years. It does this by integrating into the Activity two things: the Sugar browser to render HTML and an HTTP server to react to user clicks by calling Python code.

To learn more on how to Develop Sugar Activities Using HTML5 read the new chapter on the How to Develop your Sugar Activities Manual.

Four new Sugar Activities

Letter Match is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. While far from contructionist, this activity does provide a mechanism for learning the alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are two modes:

  1. see a letter, then click on the corresponding picture



2. see a picture, then click on the corresponding letter




AEIOU is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. It would, of course, be fun to let the learner add their own pictures and sound recordings. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture




I Know My ABCs is an activity for introducing the Spanish alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture

Finally, a cool app which uses the accelerometer in XO- 4, written by a Google Code-In student:

Level Tool is an activity to check the inclination of a surface with respect to ground.




Teacher from Nicaragua shares her experience with the XO

My name is Reyna Flores. I teach a combination of multigrade grades third through sixth at the little school Miguel Larreynaga in Tipitapa.

I hope that, like me, other teachers could have the opportunity to have the XO valuable pedagogical tool for improving the education of our children.

When working with the XO I tell my students that this computer is our “green little friend.” It includes great applications we call activities. We use them in any subject, and something else… We already have Internet! which allows us to enter the world of information.

Now, I want to share the pedagogical aspect in class:

As I teach four grades, the XO has been very important to increase the ammount of information, documents and materials that reinforce learning. I used to have difficulties when I taught geometrical bodies to third graders because there are children who have no geometric kits, then the activity called Paint Activity allows them to draw them.

When learning language arts, we use information obtained from Wikipedia and the children of the upper grades elaborate didactic schemes with the Maze activity as an alternative to reading techniques.

In physical education a stopwatch is needed to record the time-distance speed according to each student’s age. The XO has one.

In cultural and artistic expression we have no access to a marimba or the sounds that the student must know so here we come to the TamTamMini activity.

In science class, using the Record activity, children make their community tours taking pictures of what they believe is part of the environment and even pollution issues.

I also believe that the XO supports students who have some learning difficulties. For example, a child in third grade had pronunciation problems with the consonants L and R, so I asked him to write a list of words using the Sara activity, this way, the student could improve his diction.

At the end of each period, children take their homework and they relax with activities and Games that help them increase skills and mental agility.

Courage, dear colleagues! Let work for the children in Nicaragua. Lets focus on endeavor, affection, good will and the mystique that has always characterized teachers.

I invite other teachers to participate in the column “Teachers speak” because we must all learn from others’ experiences.

* Teacher at Miguel Larreynaga school, Tipitapa.

Latest news on Sugar Activities

At the urging of Reuben Caron, who had been contacted by the OLPC deployment in Armenia, Walter Bender wrote a chess activity for Sugar. It is a Sugar front-end to the gnuchess program, which is a quite sophisticated chess engine for GNU/Linux. The actvitiy, Gnuchess, can be downloaded from the Sugar activity portal and is documented on the Activities/Gnuchess page in the wiki. A few fun features include:

(1)  you can play against the computer, another person on the same computer, or over the network

(2) you can use a generic set of pieces, load in some Sugar-colored ones, or those of your own design

(3) when you play against someone over the net, they will see your artwork and you’ll see their artwork

(4) the computer will offer very good hints to new users

(5) games are recorded and can be played back as an animation or saved in standard chess notation.

Walter also have been making a number of subtle but important changes to Turtle Blocks. Cynthia Solomon (of Logo fame) has been giving him feedback and as a result, Walter thinks the box and action naming is much more streamlined and consistent. Also, the new flow blocks are much easier (and more intuitive) to use.

Check out Version 154 and keep an eye out for Version 156, coming soon.

Also, Claudia, Melissa, Cynthia, and Walter hosted a learning workshop at the OLPC office in Cambridge at which Walter got some feedback on the Portfolio and Bulletin Board activities. He is in the midst of streamlining Portfolio and also enabling comments to be made over the web. (You can get a sneak preview of Version 27). With the learning team, we have been developing a classroom protocol. Once the Portfolio activity gets released, the Bulletin Board activity will follow.

Walter has also been withing with the Fundación Zamora Teran team on the Nutrition activity.
More region-specific foods have been added and a new game: match the food to its food group. A new release will be available soon; a preview is available here.

OS 11.2 released! for XO-1 and XO-1.5

Daniel Drake has good news for XOs of all flavors:

OLPC OS 11.2 is now out for both XO-1 and XO-1.5, along with some activity updates.
Install it and check it out!

This release is build on Fedora 14 and Sugar 0.92, which includes a feature I am especially fond of: a touchpad-mode selector.  For those of you who miss being able to use the stylus-mode of the older dual-mode touchpads, this lets you toggle between stylus and capacitive modes.

This release has vastly improved build properties: olpc-update is now faster and requires much less free disk space, OS Builder is much improved for those spinning their own builds.  And the XO reflashes more than twice as quickly now:

As of this release, installation images are now sparse, meaning that data is only written where data actually resides. The result is that installation time is now more than twice as quick.

Solar charging has also been tweaked on the XO-1.5.

While there was no 11.1 release this year, there are plans in the works for an 11.3 as well.  If you have bundle updates or other fixes that didn’t get into 11.2, that’s the release for you.

huge thanks to everyone who has helped with developing and testing this release!

Dextrose 2 is available for the XO

Dextrose2, a revamp of the popular XOOS flavor developed by Activity Central and Sugar Labs, in partnership with Paraguay Educa, is now available for both XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops. It has a number of performance and other improvements, including 3G modem and connection sharing. I can’t wait to try it out on my old XO-1s.

Dextrose 2 by activity central

The original Dextrose build + activities that was released last fall was based closely on the latest XOOS release available at the time (OS 10). This version has one major difference from the main OS: it does not offer a traditional Linux desktop as an alternative to Sugar.  (Some students managed to delete their Sugar home directories from within their Gnome desktop, making work with Sugar difficult until they had reinstalled it.  As a result, some teachers asked to return to a Sugar-only system.)

This work is now formally supported by Plan Ceibal, which has started to use Dextrose in their schools. It is good to see this much attention being given to activity development and Spanish-language documentation, and to close feedback loops with teachers who use the latest tools every week with their students.

So don’t wait — download a copy of Dextrose2 and try it out!

NB: If you’re looking for the latest Dextrose with the Gnome desktop option added back in, you can request this on the sugar-devel mailing list. It’s on the list of versions to make, but not a high priority at the moment.