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February 12, 2008


Ken S

Thanks for posting. I haven't decided if I'm going to drag my 5 year-old daughter to my first Seattle XO users group meeting this Sunday. She might enjoy it, but I really don't know. I think I'll let her choose, and see what happens - she's really into her laptop and likes showing it off, so I think she choose to go....

Faith Williams

I bought a couple of the OLPC computers with a grant we had for our preschool. I have not yet been able to figure out how best to use them, my ignorance no doubt. But both my most computerized son and my Mac computer friend have been unable to show me how little kids would use them, though they are attractive and the perfect size. Are there websites I should go to?


Ken S


It helps to have a motivated geek to tinker with the machine before unleashing it for kids. Find someone with a local users group - I imagine someone could help you configure them.

For more info - I suggest the OLPCnews forums (http://olpcnews.com/forum/index.php) - where you'll be overwhelmed, but the info is in there. The big things I did to improve the experience for my daughter:

* De-activate the frame that appears when the cursor is in the corners
* Install some additional activities: Maze, Speak & Flipsticks come to mind
* Make a custom Memorize game (this requires patience)
* The Measure activity is fun to play with as well.

Browsing the web on the green machine - with the default browser or Opera (needs to be installed) - is not really for kids, IMHO. Flash website effectively don't work - so most educational websites (e.g. starfall.com are out - I use the XO and my daughter uses our iMac for flash websites).

ebooks have been a disappointment - the READ activity doesn't really hold her attention - she'd rather read a real book.

hope this help - check out the forums - have fun with the XOs!

Karen Smith

Faith - where are you located? If you're in the Chicago area, Liam, his 4 year old sister, and I would be happy to try to meet up and show you a few things. The OLPCNews.com forums that Ken posted are also a great resource. Additionally, I suggest the main OLPC forums: http://en.forum.laptop.org/index.php

and the project wiki (a wiki is a big shared notebook that many people can edit.)

I just compiled a list of OLPC resources for our Chicago area interest group, and it's located here:
Most large metro areas have a mailing list like the Chicago one has too.

And of course the laptop.org getting started page is a good place to start:

I agree that at first it's a little hard to figure out what you're supposed to do with these friendly little green machines, but I'll be honest, with about 30 minutes of tinkering on my part (albeit with a tech background/interest/lack of fear of technology) and 2.5 minutes of me showing the kids how to click the icons along the bottom to launch an activity, they were off and running.

I've posted about some great kids activities here on the OLPCNews forums. I'm trying to consolodate all those posts into this forum for caregivers that I am the moderator for, but I'm still getting my sea legs as I have no idea how to moderate on this particular forums software package. Check it out once you hit the forums.

Let us know how it goes!

ken hargesheimer

My XO has not arrived yet. I have been doing extensive research such as on here. My conclusion is that a computer user as most of us must do something hard to do: The XO takes a totally different mindset.

George Dorner

This was eerie! It's October 27 and I was checking the OLPCNews.com site, when this page of your blog popped up on my screen. I don't recall seeing this writeup before, though I did see your notes on the Chicago OLPC exchange.

I drive past Marie Murphy School fairly often and recall fondly the interchange with Liam while trying to measure how far we were from each other. Also, I have recounted that to a number of folks while talking about OLPC.

I hope all is well with you folks and that Liam is realizing some of the goals of the OLPC project. You, too!



Thanks for the comment, George! I haven't done much with OLPC since late last summer. My youngest started school full-time last fall and I've been back in the work force doing contract learning strategy/learning design for corporate clients (always looking for leads if you have any...) and it's left little time for my XO tinkering.

I did load the updated OS on one of the machines. I still have a sticky key problem on the other of our two machines and I haven't had the time to spend trying to figure out how to fix that (I am sure people in our area could help, I haven't pursued any kind of fix after the initial discussions when the G1G1 program was first launched and many of us had sticky key issues.) The updated OS looks a lot better for users, the kids were excited about it. With the school year starting, I may have to set up one of the XO machines as the kids online research station, as they're always trying to use my mac (which is strictly off-limits to children!!)

Liam is now a third grader and very excited about his new classroom. My youngest is in kindergarten and full of stories about her day - she's a use case for the video camera feature of the XO if I ever saw one! :D

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