Pixie is pretty easy to use. You can see that when a lab full of Kindergartners is buzzing as the latest feature discovery sweeps around the room. But with young learners whose brains and skills are still developing, you may want to try to make their experience even easier!.
You can make changes in the Pixie 4 preferences to change what students can see and do. You will find the preferences on Macs under the Pixie menu and on Windows under the Edit menu.
Adjust the number of recent projects
If you are concerned about students ability to navigate to open files, increase the number of recent documents that Pixie displays under the Project menu. That way, when students click Project and Open, they are likely to see their files.
Set the default panel to show the Paint tools
Most projects with young learners involve drawing and painting. By default, Pixie opens to the Option panel. At the General Preferences, use the Open to: pull-down to choose Painting.
Now when young users launch Pixie the Paint tools show immediately. Here is a sample from Aspen at age 2. She already found the 3D paintbrush. Now at age 3, she loves to explore the spray can shapes and add letters and numbers as well as butterflies and hearts.
Remove Sharing options you aren't using
If students will not be collaborating on the same file, exporting to FTP, or publishing their work to K12Share, turn these options off in the Features Preferences. This will remove these buttons from the Project menu and Export panel!
Choose what shows in the Library panel
In Project View, you can also hide things you might not use too often. For example, in the New panel, you may want to hide Specialty (sizes) and even Pics4Learning to simplify choices.
In the Open panel, you might also choose to hide options like Desktop. If you have already set the Recent Documents high enough, students may have to scroll to see these anyway and you may not feel you need to hide them. Students with more experience, can always click Show to see more option.
Create your own activities
Pixie comes with hundreds of pre-designed curriculum templates, and easy to create your own. You can create activities with locked objects, default text boxes, and even custom sticker captions. You can also use Save as Activity to simply include instructions students can listen to (Options menu, Edit Instructions) or open a blank document with a specific Stickers folder already open (Project>Current>Default Library Category).
Once you have created the activity, go to the File menu and choose Save as Activity. Since activities automatically Save As, simply put it on the Desktop or in a common folder for students to open and use. If the save using their name as part of the file name, it will be easy to find in recent documents if they need to work on it later!
And don't forget to join the Trading Post! The Trading Post is Tech4Learning's file swapping site that included hundreds of educator-created Pixie templates.
Customize even more!
These subtle changes to Pixie will make it even easier for your youngest users. Here are more instructions if you want to customize even more.