Now that many children are enjoying their vacation in the Northern Hemisphere it may be the perfect opportunity to look at an iPad education package that helps them learn while they play. And no, it’s not just any program, since one of the main advantages is that it allows us to play with our hands and other objects on a table. Osmo is an educational package for iPad that deserves a good review at Apple.
This time we will analyze the Osmo Genius package , which has three activities plus the accessories needed to make Osmo work. As you will see, nothing has been left to chance, from the packaging of the different elements to the software that makes Osmo a tool for students, parents and educators alike. Not for nothing Osmo won one of the 2014 awards from the prestigious Time magazine for the best innovation, and this is just one of the many awards it has received.
Osmo, a great idea to play with the iPad in a different way
The iTunes Store offers a wide range of educational software. What makes Osmo different? Osmo uses the camera on the iPad as its input interface , so what it records is how we communicate with the different applications. Osmo includes a white plastic base in which we can insert the iPad and leave it practically in a vertical position. It is ready to be safely placed with iPad version 2 and later, and it is also compatible with iPad mini.
On the base we find a red piece that we will place on the camera and that includes a mirror that makes the camera “look” at the surface of the table in front of the iPad. This allows us to use a good range of accessories as well as the possibility of drawing naturally on a sheet of paper as we will see later.
Thus, Osmo is able to change the way we communicate with the iPad . It is important for children to play with their hands and learn to manipulate objects, not only to improve fine motor and spatial skills but also to interact with the world around us. Osmo allows us to learn all of this naturally and for children there is something magical about doing so. Moving objects in the real world and having the iPad interpret them opens up a new form of communication.
The playing area is quite large and, in case we get out of it, the application will tell us so that we don’t have problems.
Osmo Genius, five software packages and more to come
To try out Osmo Genius, I found myself a good assistant. Six-year-old Pedro is just at the age where he can enjoy some games the most. The recommended age for playing Osmo is five years and older . But let’s look at the applications that we can have fun with if we buy the Genius package: Numbers, Masterpiece, Tangram, Words and Newton. Genius includes the base and the reflector, so we have a pretty complete system.
When we take Osmo out of the case, we also have two stickers with the brand logo and a sheet of paper with Osmo’s web address on it to register the product and start downloading the software. We found four boxes labeled with the words Base, Numbers, Words and Tangram. The first thing we liked is that the boxes are joined together with magnets , staying stuck and making it easier to keep everything collected once we have finished playing. The Base box includes the support and the mirror, as we saw before.
To play Osmo we must register on their website and install the packages on the iPad. The software is ready to be used in educational and pedagogical environments as well as at home , being able to create different profiles for the different users. The profile is generic for all games, providing a history of use and progress.
Tangram, never playing with colored blocks was this much fun
So we started playing Tangram, the well-known game of geometric pieces that form a square and with which we can build a lot of figures. The application will propose a series of challenges, which are none other than to conform the figures that appear in the image with the Tangram pieces. The novelty is that the figures we create with our hands will be recognized by the iPad camera , and it will check if we have built them correctly, piece by piece, thanks to the camera and the Osmo mirror.
The game works as an adventure in which we advance and discover new challenges and figures to build. Tangram has three difficulty levels and is a good way to start discovering everything that Osmo has to offer.
Words, learning words and improving reading
Once we’ve played with Tangram and built a bunch of figures, it’s time to embark on Words. In the box comes the first surprise, we find a bunch of pieces with letters written in red and blue , one letter per piece, completing two complete alphabets (in English, it does not have the ñ or accented letters). Although it seems that Words was going to be in English, the surprise comes in that the games with which he receives us are in our language. And we can also download levels in English or other languages.
Words includes more basic games such as guessing the initial of some words and the typical one- or two-player hangman game . And here comes speed and skill, as one player will do it with the red pieces and the other with the blue ones. Each letter guessed from each word will award each player points, with the markers appearing on the side of the screen and showing the progress of both players. The first one to reach 100 points wins, being quite effective in prodding both players to make the best score.
And no, we won’t be limited to the words that come pre-installed, but we can download new packages for free from the Osmo website. And the platform allows you to create and download personalised word albums, ideal for teachers who want to turn their classroom material into something fun to learn.
Numbers, math is mixed with Pang
If you think that learning to add and count is boring, you haven’t played with Numbers. One way to define how you play is to imagine the Pang spheres. In each one we find a number, a number that we have to create by adding points or numbers with the pieces, which makes the sphere fall. Numbers is inspired by the underwater world and we have to make the spheres disappear so that fish can fall to the bottom, fish that we have to feed and protect with our actions from bombs and other dangers by eliminating the necessary spheres.
In addition to the most basic games to learn to count, Numbers also has other levels to learn to add, multiply,…
Newton, 60 levels of physics for children
Inside the Genius packaging we only have four boxes. Where are the other sets? The first good news is we don’t need to have any extra pieces. To play Newton or Masterpiece you need a sheet of paper and a pen . The second good news is that Newton is one of the most fun games we can play with Osmo.
Newton is a physics emulation game in which some pieces are dropping colored balls. Balls that we have to take to the targets. To do this we can draw lines on a sheet of paper so that they bounce or roll, or use our hands, Tangram pieces, etc.
Masterpiece, learning to draw with Osmo
Another application that the children will enjoy the most is Masterpiece . Learning to draw is not easy, since it involves having skill with pencils, a good eye for copying and then coloring. But with Masterpiece and with the help of the iPad’s cameras, we can take a photo (or also use a drawing from the presets in the application) and draw the lines of the drawing with the help of the camera .
So, we look at the screen and move the pencil to draw the lines that make up the picture. And we can also see the drawing in shading or the capture we have made with the camera on the iPad screen .
Then we can even combine several sources and also take a picture of our masterpiece. The application saves a couple of surprises, like the creation of an automatic timelapse of the whole drawing process and the possibility to define email addresses to automatically share our masterpieces by email.
Osmo extensions: Coding and other games to come
We can’t pass up the opportunity to talk about a game that doesn’t come in the Genius Kit but can be purchased independently. Coding shows the little basics of programming , as we can see in the following video.
Coding is an easy way to learn programming and opens the door to logical reasoning.
Final valuation of Osmo
Throughout this review of Osmo we have seen a few risky bets. Osmo turns subjects like reading and math into games using a new way of communicating with the software. And above all it keeps children from using the iPad screen to play with real pieces and chips, something that many parents will welcome. And Osmo wins all the tricks and with a high score, being a useful and fun tool for learning .
The games are fun and entertaining and don’t lose their magic in successive play sessions. By being able to download new activities, cards and games we guarantee that the children of the house will continue to be entertained and learn new subjects without getting bored. The use of Osmo in the classroom also opens up new educational possibilities , and includes the possibility of having different profiles and monitoring the progress of each one of them.
The prices of the different kits (V.A.T. included) from Osmo are as follows:
- Starter Kit (contains Base, Tangram and Words) – £89.99
- Genius Kit (Starter Kit + Numbers) – £119.99
- Numbers (Starter Kit required) – £39.99
- Coding Set (Requires Base, included in Starter or Genius kits) – 59.99
If you were looking for a different activity for children, Osmo is an excellent learning and entertainment tool for the little ones in the house. Recommended.
We thank Yudelka Brens from Exertis Unlimited for sending us the Genius Osmo kit for testing. You can view the company relations policy here.
- Osmo, a great idea to play with the iPad in a different way
- Osmo Genius, five software packages and more to come
- Tangram, never playing with colored blocks was this much fun
- Words, learning words and improving reading
- Numbers, math is mixed with Pang
- Newton, 60 levels of physics for children
- Masterpiece, learning to draw with Osmo
- Osmo extensions: Coding and other games to come
- Final valuation of Osmo