Going Beyond Activities

Sugar offers many ways to use a computer beyond just the display screen, although when you use Sugar in new ways, you can think beyond the display. Read on for new ideas of using Sugar or your XO beyond the Activity set and with the Activities currently available.

Create a slideshow

You can install a program called "feh" to display images quickly and offer an automatic slideshow of pictures.

What you need to begin:

  • A way to take pictures, such as an XO laptop or digital camera.
  • A USB drive or SD card, and know the name of the device.
  • An Internet connection.


Activity (step by step)

  1. Take pictures of your family, school, home, and community with the Record Activity or a digital camera.
  2. In the Journal Activity, drag the pictures onto the USB or SD icon on the Frame to copy the pictures onto a USB drive or SD card.
  3. Open the Terminal Activity and click the root button. 
  4. Type the following command and then press enter.
    yum install feh
  5. Enter y for yes when prompted for permission to go ahead with the installation.
  6. After feh is installed you can run your slide show by typing the following in the Terminal Activity:
    feh -F -D 5 --scale-down /media/cardname/ where -F plays full screen and -D 5 plays the slideshow with a five second delay between images.
  7. Press ctrl-q or Q to quit displaying the slideshow.

Ideas for Expansion in the Classroom

Make artwork in the Draw Activity instead of taking pictures using the Record Activity for your slideshow pictures.

Create a digital art or photography gallery with all of your computers hanging on the wall or leaning as if they were easels.

Share pictures by copying files onto other student's SD cards or USB drives.

Have students collaborate with the Draw Activity by having each student draw for one minute, much like the Swarm Sketch site at

Have students download pictures about a certain topic or use tags on sites like to create a slideshow of only cats, dogs, or other pets.

Think of a place that could display the computer slide shows for a practical purpose, such as offering changing advertisement at a store or restaurant. How could students make a business model for selling advertisements, designing slides, and displaying them on their slide show like a billboard?

Have students create collages or mosaics with more than one computer screen stacked on another, running the slideshows all at one time.

Research the command line parameters for feh. Can they modify the timing of the slideshow so that stacks of pictures create a larger image?

Could students use their slideshow to convince someone to purchase a product or make a decision?

Make a video of your art or photography gallery premier or write a journal entry about your experience sharing photos or artwork.

Reading with Sugar

Read books that are stored on the computer or on the Internet. One way to read books is to open the Browse Activity, click the books link, and then click encyclopedia, picture books, or dictionaries.


The Sugar OS contains a library that offers many interesting reading materials in many languages. These books are sometimes called "ebooks" for electronic books, and Portable Document Format (PDF) files are one type of ebook.

If you are using an XO, you might like to flip the laptop display so that it lays flat while reading ebooks.

Reading PDF files

The way to view PDF files is to select the file in the Browse Activity or in the Journal, and then click the arrow button to have the Read Activity open it.

The Read Activity and Watch & Listen Activity are two activities that are not started from the Home View. You access them through a "launching" Activity like Journal or Browse.

Reading epub files

Epub is an electronic book or ebook format that you can read on your computer after downloading and installing a reader such as FBReader, and downloading and storing the epub files that you want to read. To complete this procedure, FBReader must be installed.

Installing FBReader

To install FBReader, connect to the Internet, open the Terminal Activity and type:

su yum install fbreader

After you press enter, the installer downloads and installs fbreader. Next, you'll want to download some epub books. 

Downloading and viewing books

To download and view epub books, follow this procedure. 

1. Start the Browse Activity.


2. In the address bar type in and press enter.
3. Scroll down to the book you want to download, and click the link.
Sugar displays a countdown while the file downloads.

4. Switch over to the Journal Activity by clicking the Journal icon at the top of the Frame.
5. Insert an SD card or a USB device into the XO. The Journal shows an icon in a bottom bar when you insert external storage media.
6. Locate the downloaded epub file, but do not click it to launch it. Drag the file to the SD or USB icon in the bottom bar.


7. Start the Terminal Activity.
8. Click in the Terminal window and find the name of the external storage device, which is in the /media directory. For example, type:
9. You will see the name of your SD card or USB device in the row with /media/ before it. You need that name to copy the epub file from the external media to the correct location for FBReader to find the book file.


10. Change to the media directory where the epub file is stored and rename the file to something shorter. For example, type:
cd /media/USBMEM mv "File TheThreeBears.epub downloaded" TheThreeBears.epub LittleBoPeep-ANurseryRhymePictureBook.epub
11. Copy the newly named file to the ~Books directory. For example, type:
cp TheThreeBears.epub ~/Books

12. Launch FBReader by typing FBReader at the Terminal Activity prompt. The screen displays the book you downloaded with FBReader's toolbar at the top of the screen.


Ideas for Expansion in the Classroom

Make your own ebook by either creating a PDF file using a free PDF creator online or by learning about the epubs format to make your own book.

Ask students to learn about reading by reading more and more books and charting the class's progress in completed books read over a period of time.

Share your favorite books by copying files onto other student's SD cards or USB drives.

Have students write an email or letter to the author of their favorite books, asking them interview-style questions about working with others while authoring books.

Who else might like to read the books you've downloaded? Can you find books that your family might enjoy together? What about books about your area of the country?

Use the Write Activity to keep a journal while reading your book. What discussion questions do you have for your class after reading the book? 

Look the book up online at and read reviews for the book. Do you have the same reactions to the book as another reviewer?

How do students use reading in their every day lives to make decisions or otherwise act upon what they've read?

Write a review to convince others to read a certain book. What aspects of the book can you use to convince someone that it is worth the time investment to read it? 

Demonstrate Turtle Art

Turtle Art is a colorful visual activity to use in a classroom setting where students can give the turtle commands and even spell out their names.


Activity (step by step)

You may want to demonstrate on a computer that can be displayed on an overhead projector.

1. Open the Turtle Art Activity.


2. Click Project.


3. Click the Samples icon.


4. Select a sample file such as birds.ta and click Open.




Have students follow the instructions for creating letters. What shape will this set of commands make? Try it and see.

  1. Drag each puzzle piece onto the turtle's floor.
  2. Next, click the bar next to the piece, then type numbers to enter the number values you see, such as color and shade.
  3. Once all the pieces are locked together, click the first puzzle piece to start your turtle.


Did your turtle draw this shape?


If your turtle didn't draw the shape of an uppercase A, or if the color is different, check each puzzle piece one at a time, pretending that you are the turtle trying to understand the command you gave it. When you see a number or a piece that is out of place, change it and try again.


Have students share their letter drawings and use combinations for their names to work together in the classroom, such as having kids with N in their name share their turtle's commands by sending .ta files to each other.


How can the turtle commands be adapted for giving someone directions to a nearby store? Would you tell a person to pick up a pen and set it down? How about telling a person how many degrees to turn? Try to tell another classmate how to walk in a curved line by using the turtle commands.


Could your turtle draw plans for a house or for a path through a maze?


What's going on underneath the surface of the Turtle Art Activity is putting together a set of commands in a program, much like how computers take instructions and give results. Explore the idea of giving commands to something other than a turtle, such as a computer.


Your Turtle's commands are stored in the Journal for you to review from time to time. Store the commands that make up your name.