Ideas for using the Microsoft Paint app on a Windows tablet in Foundation Phase lessons

Submitted by Fiona Beal

Tablets are an attractive device to use in the classroom because they are halfway between laptops and mobile phones. This means they are big enough to work on for a period of time, on a desk, in a classroom. Their touch screen capability allows them to be used with a stylus which is similar to using a pen or pencil. The use of touch-screen tablets can bring many advantages to the classroom. One such advantage is that learners become more enthusiastic in their lessons. The big challenge to teachers is to consider not only the apps and the technical side of the tablet devices, but to be aware of pedagogical considerations as well.

Recently Microsoft and the Western Cape Education Department delivered 99 Windows 10 tablets, in three cabinets, to 42 Western Cape Schools that would otherwise never be able to afford such devices. Selected Grade 1,2 and 3 teachers from each school, along with teachers from other schools in the vicinity, were provided with a day’s training presented by SchoolNet facilitators. These teachers shared what they had learned with the rest of their staff when they returned to their schools; and then, a few weeks later, each school was visited by a  SchoolNet facilitator to see how the teachers and classes were managing with the tablets.Mostly, no Internet is available in the classrooms at these schools, so the teachers have to use offline apps in their lessons. The Windows 10 tablet is well-suited to offline use as it is very similar to using a Windows 10 computer offline.

I was privileged to visit five schools in one of the poorest areas of Cape Town, Khayelitsha, as part of this visitation programme. In this post  I’ll refer briefly to my visit to Isikhokelo Primary School in Khyalitsha. In Khayelitsha, generally, the class sizes range from 40 – 47 learners.

The Grade 1 class at Isikhokelo Primary using their tablets

I found this visit very inspiring, as the teachers who were trained had shared what they had learnt with the other Foundation Phase teachers after the training, and the school had drawn up a timetable and a plan for using the devices. When I visited some of the classes I could see that both the teachers and learners were feeling comfortable using the tablets. One of the apps I noticed them using when I visited their classes was the Paint app. This post will focus on some ideas for using a painting app such as Paint in the classroom.

10 ideas for using Paint in a Foundation Phase class Microsoft Paint doesn’t appear in the alphabetical list of apps on a Windows tablet, but it shows up when one types ‘Paint’ into the search bar. This is a very useful app, especially in Foundation Phase, as it can also be used as a whiteboard with colour pens and an eraser.

Benefits of using the Paint app in the classroom

  • The learners can identify different colours, shades of colours and sizes of pens. They can develop their fine motor skills when they use a stylus with this app.
  • The nature of this app taps into a learner’s creativity.
  • The Paint app can be used as a whiteboard in a lesson.
  • Learners can manipulate different shapes.
  • Learners can use a text tool to type words. 
  • The work can be saved if desired.

Using the Paint app in the classroom

Paint can be used in a number of different ways in a Foundation Phase classroom. Here are ten ideas.

  1. In reading lessons learners can paint a favourite scene from the story just read. They can describe what they have drawn, and why it was their favourite part of the story.
  2. Learners can illustrate sentences from the story. The teacher could highlight a sentence and the learners draw what they visualise. 
  3. Learners can redraw a picture that appears in the story.
  4. Learners can also complete an unfinished story in the form of a picture.
  5. In phonics lessons learners can listen for the beginning sound of a word spoken by the teacher and they can write it in Paint. The teacher could also call out some of the phonics they have learned and the learners could practise writing the sounds on their tablet devices. 
  6. Paint is useful in Life Skills lessons. For example, when learning about dental hygiene, learners can draw a picture of a beautiful smile that demonstrates healthy teeth. 
  7. Learners can easily draw diagrams and label them. For example they could draw a body and label the body parts when learning about the body.
  8. In Maths lessons that involve using shapes, Paint provides a great selection of shapes that can be manipulated and coloured in.
  9. In Maths lessons Paint can also be used for writing the Maths sum and working out the answer by means of a sketch. The learners could be asked to explain their thinking to a partner.
  10. Paint can be used in an Art lesson especially when art resources are limited at a school.

An example of a lesson using Paint


Draw a picture showing a new end to a story.


The learners will create their own story ending after listening to a story.

Before class begins

Locate an interesting story for the class. You will either read the story to the class or tell them the story, but remember to leave out the ending.

Opening activity

  • Read or tell the story to the class modelling as much reading expression as possible. Do not mention the end of the story.
  • Discuss possible story endings with the class.
  • Tell the learners they will draw a picture showing their own ending to the story.

Task: Draw an ending to the story

  • Introduce the Paint app to the learners if they have not used it before. Talk about the paintbrush sizes, the colour palette, the paint pot for colouring in, and the eraser for rubbing out mistakes.
  • Let the learners use the stylus when using Paint to have better fine motor control. The stylus in this instance is their paintbrush.
  • Walk around and help those learners who require assistance. Be quick to compliment the learners on their drawings.
  • Let the learners use the A icon in Paint to type their name. They could also type their own sentence about the picture they have drawn.

Ending the lesson

  • Let the learners discuss their story endings with one another.
  • The image can be saved to illustrate how to save, but this will need to be erased after a while to save space on the tablet. 

A tutorial on using Microsoft Paint

Whatever tablet you use in your classroom, make sure that you have a similar app to Microsoft Paint that can be used as a whiteboard as well as an art programme. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll use it in your lessons. 

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