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Minutes from ME

Boxstrip One Color


Boxes, Lines and Colors

Young students so quickly master the steps to be learned to transfer their ideas and imaginary images to the screen! Our job is simply to move fast enough to stay just a little ahead.

Working from the previous exercise with straight lines and colors, the next step in complexity, similar to the progression in natural drawing, is learning to use the box drawing tool. Very soon children are blithely drawing box collages and coloring them without realizing the basic computing processes they are using.

The principle of computing that the necessary condition must be set before an action can be taken is incidentally learned, along with the further lesson that when you change the action you must reset the condition. That is a rather wordy way of saying that you cannot draw boxes until you click the box button and cannot color until you click the paintpot (or paint bucket) button, but the principle remains.


Looking at the PAINT screen with the drawing area blank do you see the straight line task button and the coloring task button we used earlier? This time we are going to draw boxes, so click on the button containing a box outline. Does the cursor change? Do you notice that now it looks like a cross with a tiny circle at the center? (The legend which pops up in the Windows 95 PAINT program labels this button as a "Rectangle" but with young students the term "box", while not strictly accurate, is preferred.)

Task bar and Demo

To draw a box press the left-hand mouse button and hold it down as you drag the cursor diagonally. Release the mouse button when the box is the size and shape you want it to be. There you are. Your first box! Notice you start a box from any of the four corners you choose (the arrows in the example above) but not from the middle of a side, and you can end it anywhere (asterisks above).

Go ahead and draw lots of boxes on top of each other. They can be long, short, wide, narrow, next to each other or inside each other. Then color your box pictures. See how the cursor shape changes again when you color by clicking the paintpot icon on your choice in the color box tool?

Random Plain BoxesRandom Colored Boxes

Coloring Box

If your drawing looks too crazy and you decide it's a "mess-up" (I love that term - so APT!), just hum to yourself our song "FILE! NEW! NO!" Click on those three words on the screen and you will get a clean screen to start over.


We use three different tools for this exercise - the straight line we used in the beginning, the yellow eraser tool and the paintbrush tool. Draw boxes again but this time draw them inside each other, starting from either the smallest and out, or the largest and in.

Nested Boxes Line, Eraser & Brush Diagram

Now switch to the yellow eraser tool (see the cursor shape changes again!) and make one break in each box. Switch to the straight line and add some "fences". Now you have made your own maze! You can have someone save this for you now if you'd like, (I strongly suggest you do!). Invite a partner to try solving your maze - here's how. She clicks on the paintbrush tool and clicks on a different color like red or blue. Now she can draw the line she takes. She holds down the mouse button and beginning at the first gate draws a line showing the path taken through the maze. Mess-ups are not a problem because you have saved your nice, clean maze and can always go back to it. Next it's "changing places" time, see if you can solve your partner's maze. Be very careful drawing the paintbrush line, it's not so easy to do!

Solved Maze


The Magic School Bus Maze
Wally Whatcom's Mazes
Recycling and Composting Maze
The Medium Mazes!
Glenn's Maze

Another very big THANK YOU to my cheerful and helpful illustrator, Jeffrey.

Boxstrip Multicolored

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