Last Christmas my youngest son received an Osmo as a gift. It comes smartly packaged in three boxes that are drawn together magnetically and is for use on your iPad 2 (or higher) devices. A quick free download from the app store is all that is required to start playing. Here is my unbiased and non-compensated Play Osmo Review.
Play Osmo is unique because it transforms any playing surface in front of your iPad into an interactive game board allowing and encouraging cooperative play with several children. The package includes three games: Tangram, Newton and Words. The recommended age is for six and up, but my four year old took to it easily and was able to work through the beginner levels with some guidance. This is certainly an app that you can feel good about your child spending some time on either independently or co-operatively.
Play Osmo Tanagrams:
In the Tangram game, players work to match the increasingly challenging images created onscreen with tangram pieces. The math concept of ‘transformations’ – which includes translations (slides), rotations (turns) and reflections (flips) – are concepts that are practiced in the game as the mirror reflects onscreen what is happening on the table with prompts via animated hands on how to move the pieces to fit the puzzle. My 7 year old was able to work her way up the levels without assistance and my 4 year old could complete the introduction level independently.
Play Osmo Newton:
The Newton game presents spatial reasoning and basic principles of physics in a fun and interactive platform allowing the player to guide and deflect falling balls towards targets. Random objects can be used or a white board can be drawn on to create obstacles in the fall area. Some serious critical thinking goes into this game and with its total lack of directions or instruction leaves plenty of room for creative problem solving. This game suited my 10 year old, but was too advanced for the other two: they enjoyed placing toy cars and other random objects in the way of the balls, but were unaware of the deeper principles at play.
Play Osmo Words:
In Words, increasingly challenging words are presented hangman style for players to puzzle over. A picture clue is provided with varying complexity. The initial letter sounds “easy” level is suitable for early readers and the “impossible” level makes for a fun wheel-of-fortune style game with your older kids. The game can be played cooperatively (use one set of coloured tiles) or competitively (use two sets of tiles).
Osmo catches my attention for several reasons. It is an educational use of technology that encourages social interaction. The skills reinforced in these three game sets are universally recognized in successful learners: creative problem solving, patterning, prediction, visual and spatial reasoning as well as working memory.
After the Winter holiday, I took our Osmo into my classroom to test drive it with a class of Grade 3 students. Osmo does a good job of differentiating the levels so all abilities of students can play and feel successful and challenged. I hooked the iPad up to our smart board for a larger viewing screen, but since the iPad is not compatible with the smart board, we could not play using the smart board. The games still had to be played down on the floor in front of the iPad. The smart board did make it easier for others waiting their turn to observe players in front of them problem solve and offer advice. Plus, there was less crowding as more children could actively engage than if they were around just the iPad. Going forward, I see this as a valuable tool for educational game play that will be featured in our learning centres!
The only deficit to this product is that the iPad must be removed from a protective case to work with the base and mirror. Since iPads are not inexpensive tools, I’m not entirely comfortable with my children using the iPad without a case. The case we have at home is no small chore to remove and reinstall. The case at school is easier to remove, but with budgets stretched so tight, the responsibility of removing the iPad from its case weighs heavily on me as the responsible adult. Osmo’s website says they are working on a base that will accommodate cases. It would be a welcome upgrade.
Overall, I recommend this product as an educational product that does a good job of exciting children to learn through play. While I do advocate for children to step away from devices and screen time, I can see this as a suitable learning opportunity that bridges the cooperative spirt of board games with the excitement of technology for young learners.
You can purchase Osmo here. (Affiliate link)
This Osmo review is my true opinion of the product. I did not receive any free products for this review, nor was I asked to review the product by any company.