Thursday, March 24, 2011

Start a Story at TimTim

I discovered TimTim recently via MakeUseOf.com.

TimTim offers both drawings done by others for you to colour, and an editor for you to draw your own. There's a fill tool, line tools, shape tools, a colour palette and most excitingly, a text element that allows you to add a text box of your own and fill it with text.

A move tool would have been good - you can see in the image above that my text became squashed and there was no way I could find to move it. There's an option to save to your desktop, or to save to TimTim - you need to log in for the latter. It's a reasonable editor but I did need some of the helpful tips I found within the site.

HOW TO DRAW ON timtim painter tool

When you start, you can either make your own new drawing or you can choose a drawing or activity from the SCROLL-BAR on the left of the canvas. There are over 100 drawings to color, many picture crosswords to solve, dot-dot drawings, and mazes. Use the scroll-bar button on the side of the scroll-bar to scroll down and see all the drawings. When you see one you like, just click on it and it will appear on the canvas ready to color. But you can also erase some lines if you want and add your own. Some drawings have text bubbles where you can use the text tool to write in your own captions.

To answer my question about moving the text I'd written: Once you start writing, use only your computer keypad to move the text or change it. If you click with the mouse again, it will start a new line of text in another position.

Another feature that actively encourages children's literacy is drawings with blank areas: On the SCROLL-BAR of the timtim painter tool are a number of drawings that have large "blank" areas inside the drawings like the one above. These are meant to be used as a framework for text messages or for another image to be drawn inside. There are many to choose from - an airplane, a truck, the AV screen above, a snowman, a Christmas heart, and many more. You can use these to write messages, make small posters, or to create a whole new idea. This new message drawing can be saved on your own computer and down-loaded to your mobile phone, sent in an email, attached to a document, or printed out.

The most exciting thing, which I double checked with website owner, Tim Newlin, is that if you have a non-commercial newspaper, blog or website, the drawings are free to use. This is such a boon to parents and teachers! All Tim asks is that we "either print or add a hyperlink to www.timtim.com as the source of the drawing so that others may link directly to us and also enjoy the site. TimTim is 100% supported by its sponsored links."

Sometimes when children are writing, they just need a little inspiration to start them off. I think TimTim can offer that in the form of cartoon-like drawings for children to colour, but more importantly, it offers a digital canvas for children to create their own drawings and at the very least start a story to accompany it. Great!
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