The Franklin Institute's Resources for Science Learning x
Home (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)For Learners (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)For Educators (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)Leadership (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)Partnership (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)About Us (Main Navigation - Resources for Science Learning @ The Franklin Institute)

Minutes from ME

Blossoms A-Growing?


The world of computing is increasingly graphic and children can use early experiences in this special field.
As children discover the possibilities in manipulating computer images their fascination with this new skill runs wild. They do not come close to understanding the process at this pre-reader stage, (even though they think they do!) but the enjoyment grows.
My own fun comes from watching those inventive leaps as the weird graphic effects materialize on the computer lab screens.


Previously the students have learned how to move text and images around by dragging and dropping and learned to alter an image by flipping and rotating it. Now they learn the "Silly Putty" or "Funhouse Mirrors" possibilities in messing around with graphics and text.

In the PAINT program the object to be worked on must first be selected using the outline tool (the broken-line box button). Now click on Image in the heading row, then on Stretch/Skew in the drop down menu. Take time to examine the diagrams and choices in the Stretch and Skew description box which results.

Stretch/Skew How-To

Notice that the units for stretching are given as percentages, giving fair leeway to alter these values either up or down to limits where the altered images are unrecognizable (try it). For skewing, the units are degrees and the limits are plus or minus 89 degrees on the latest PAINT software versions. Skewing images to the outer limits renders them unrecognizable too - that's often the most fun.
Go ahead and experiment by creating any image (text, a box, lines), copying and pasting a few copies, outlining them and stretching and skewing them. The following shapes demonstrate the variety of results.

Stretch/Skew  Samples

These samples were prepared by an older student, such presentation would not be expected from a kindergartner! Still they show the potentials of stretching and skewing.


(Manipulations can go haywire easily at the beginning so remember that the original file can always be restored by clicking on File then the filename in the resulting drop down menu.)


Adjectives, plain, comparative and superlative, are good candidates for stretching. Prepare ahead a PAINT file containing each set of three adjectives, with the type font being all the same size. The children will then use the stretch method to have each word live up to its meaning. After a few false starts the idea will catch on fast, this is also a great opportunity for those who pick up the idea quickest to help their classmates do so. Choosing words with opposite meanings promotes vocabulary enrichment. Mentioning horizontal and vertical concepts can't hurt either.

Stretched Lesson Examples

Discuss other words which could be stretched to illustrate their meaning and maybe now the children themselves could do the copy typing of text. How about ..... thick/thin, big/little, tall/short?

Adverbs are the words of choice for horizontal skewing. Again prepare ahead the file containing the phrases and ask the children to skew them to their meaning.

Skewed Lesson Examples


Tell the children it's free choice time. They can draw anything they wish and twist or bend it in any way they wish. The choices will range from balls and boxes, beanstalks, a certain three bears, through giants and munchkins to monsters, the final images from cute to gruesome. The children will face the splendid dilemma of deciding whether to continue their own experiments or answer the friend who exclaims, "Hey, come see this!". Such a glorious quandary!
Stop at each lab computer and ask for the story which describes the screen contents.

Here are some random ideas.

Lotsa CatsStop-Action Gulls

Sailing Stop-Action

Separate skewed images can be built into a simple animation.
A final show stopper is to give each student a digital image of themselves obtained through scanning or a digital camera - then watch the distortions and listen for the giggles!

Blossoms A-Tilt!

The "Minutes from ME" Archives

GO Back to inQuiry Almanack