Using Painting and Drawing Apps for more than pictures.

28 Mar

In a recent post I highlighted just a few of the many  Painting and Drawing Apps available on the App Store and presented my readers with some criteria for evaluating them.  This post looks at some of the ways these apps can be used across curriculum areas.


You may remember I noted that stamps/stickers can make an App more versatile, and that certainly is the case when it comes to Mathematics.  In a classroom, students commonly used counters, paddle pop sticks, blocks and other manipulatives to experiment with number.  Think of stamps as onscreen or virtual manipulatives.   If you don’t have stamps, you can use different colour and painting tools to create marks or shapes.

Representing Number – Paint a numeral on the screen and get children to add stamps or marks to show the number.

Place value – Stamp an image all over the screen.  You could also use painting tools to create dots or X marks.  Use the painting tools to group 10s, and then write the number with text or paint tools.

Place Value

Addition and Subtraction– illustrate simple problems with stamps or paint tools, and then use paint or text tools to write the equation.  For subtraction, you can cross off each image as it is “taken away.”


Multiplication and Division – set up arrays to show multiplication sums, e.g. four groups of three.

Sets and Logic – This activity is easiest when you have a large variety of stamps.  You can draw circles on the screen and then use them to sort stamps according to shape, colour, classification, initial letter sound or whichever criteria you choose.

Sets: Things that are alive and things that are red.

Shape – Shape tools are a big bonus when exploring shape, and the more the merrier.  You can also use line tools to draw straight-lined shapes, use paint tools to count corners and sides, and use stamps to sort into shape categories.  With most stamp sets, you’d probably need to look at environmental shapes, for example a bicycle might go with the circles due to the wheels.  You can also use shape tools to make pictures, e.g. make a person using only circles and ovals.


Handwriting – use different painting tools and/ or colours to repeatedly trace over patterns letters and words.

Letters and Sounds – similar to the Number activity above, use the text or paint tools to write a letter or sound on the screen and then use the stamps or painting tools to illustrate it.  A B letter may have lots of pictures starting with b, while the AT sound may have lots of rhyming at words.  You could save these pictures and put them together to create a book with an app such as Picturebook, Book Creator or Keynote.

Simple stories – Create a picture and then use text tools to create a caption.  If you don’t have text tools, save the image and import it into Keynote or Pages and add text.

Spelling – write your weekly spelling words using different paint tools.

Story writing – Create a series of images and either add text to the image, or import the images into an app such as Picturebook or Book Creator. You could also make a slideshow using the Keynote App.  I’ve written an earlier post with more writing ideas.

Other Subject Areas

Labeling Pictures – Import a photo into the App and use text tools or painting tools to label different parts of the picture.  This can be useful for making observations and reporting on experiments.

Mapping – import an image of a map, for example a map of the school.  Students can then use painting tools to map particular areas on the map, for example the school canteen, office, playground and their classroom. They can also map different routes through the school grounds.

There are many other ways to use painting and drawing apps.  If you have some different ideas, please share them with our readers in the comments section below.

3 Responses to “Using Painting and Drawing Apps for more than pictures.”

  1. AnisaAsad 29/03/2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Reblogged this on Thoughtful Existence and commented:
    Cool ideas

  2. BookChook (@BookChook) 14/01/2013 at 1:55 pm #

    I’m getting excited about the potential for creative self-expression with the comic editor apps. Apps in general are so motivating to kids, and there are some great ones that encourage digital storytelling by way of speech balloons and dialogue.


  1. School Writing – the Must-Have App for all schools « On Sarah's iPad - 02/07/2012

    […] Activities – Some of the strategies I discussed in an earlier post, Using Painting and Drawing Apps for more than just pictures, would apply here.  Children could count objects and write the number, write sums, group tens, […]

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