Osmo Letters is a competitive game involving critical thinking, speed, and phonics knowledge. There are two levels. Both levels show a picture and blank spaces along the bottom of the screen. Players must use the picture to help them figure out what letters go in the blanks. The set of letters includes one full alphabet in red and one full alphabet in blue. Players choose a color to represent them. During the game, players place the letters they think fit in the blanks on the table. The iPad recognizes which letters are red and which are blue and gives points to the player that puts the correct letters down first. However, players must use caution as points are deducted for incorrect letter choices.
In the beginning level, the connection to the pictures and words is very clear and most of the letters are given to the players. For example, the players may only have to fill in one letter. This is a great introduction for first, second, and even third graders. The more challenging level offers no letter clues and gets harder as the players progress through the game. The picture hints become more and more obscure thus encouraging critical thinking and problem solving skills. Adding to the fun, the game randomly throws in extra challenges like only giving the players five wrong letter guesses for one round instead of the usual ten. This game is bursting with fun and learning!
Tangram is the app that corresponds to the Tangram pieces. The screen shows a shape made with the pieces. Players must fit the physical pieces together on the table to match the shapes on the screen. Correct placement earns the player a rewarding sound. Once a player completes one shape, the player may choose another shape to complete from the home screen. The goal is the rescue people being held in castles throughout the screen. To rescue people, you must complete a certain number of shapes in each level. The first level gives users both color and shape cues to aid in tangram placement. The next level offers some shape cues but no color cues. The hard level offers only the outline of the object, but maintains rewarding sounds when the placement is correct. The most challenging level gives no visual or sound cues. The only way a player knows if their creation is correct is if they complete the entire puzzle. Only then, will they receive their reward. The game offers many puzzles for each level, allowing play to continue for quite some time. Tangram is a great app for shape recognition and spatial reasoning. The ability to manipulative the pieces are a huge help in solving the puzzles.
Numbers is the newest app by this amazing company. This app was designed for the youngest set of students—four and five-year-olds. It includes a set of numerals and a set of tiles with dots representing the numbers 1-5. Numbers teaches number concepts and number recognition in a fun, adorable game. Children pop numbered bubbles filled with water by matching the numbers on the bubbles to an equal amount of number tiles the child places on the table. Spread throughout the bubbles are fish, plants, and boxes filled with surprises. As children pop the bubbles below them, it releases these items into the water and the child receives additional points. As children progress, the numbers get bigger and more difficult. Players can choose to put one tile to equal the number or choose to add several to equal the sum. My seven-year-old son is obsessed with this game—choosing to play the game over building a brand new Lego set with his father!
Osmo also works with two other apps—neither of which requires additional pieces to play. App developers outdid themselves with Newton. Newton is a physics-based game. A ball drops from the top of the iPad screen. The students’ goal is to get the ball to hit one or more targets randomly placed on the screen. To do this, students must change the trajectory of the ball. Doing so requires users to place objects on the table in front of the iPad. The ball on the screen then bounces and rolls off these objects. Higher levels add fans to twirl and obstacles to avoid. The app is most certainly challenging, however, there is not a shortage of fun.
Masterpiece is the last app is Osmo’s series. In this app, users essentially trace pictures onto paper. The app contains several pictures for the user to choose or users can take a picture of their own. Once a picture is chosen, the app locates the most important lines and takes away the rest of the picture leaving an outline on the screen. Once the outline is available, the user places a piece of paper on the table directly in front of the iPad. The iPad superimposes an image of the paper on top of the previously chosen image. While looking at the screen, users take a pen and trace the lines on the screen onto the paper. Because it is a mirror image, choosing the direction to go can be tricky, although neither of my own children seemed to have any trouble. As a matter of fact, they were much better at using the app than me! While this is not my favorite app in the series, due to a lack of creativity, it does not make it any less fun to use. Click here to read the full TWA review.
Osmo has one disadvantage—and unfortunately, it is not minor. In order to use an Osmo system, your iPad cannot be in a case of any kind. The iPad is in little danger of harm while the Osmo is being used. However, if your iPad spends time in a case of any sort, taking it in and out of the case to use with the Osmo increases the likelihood of harm. In a classroom setting, anytime an iPad is not protected I worry. If you plan to use an Osmo in a classroom, I recommend using it in a center type setting where the Osmo remains out and never moves from its location. In my opinion, this is the best way to keep the technology safe.
As a whole, the Osmo is an amazing piece of educational technology! Encompassing creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, math and language it is an enormous value! This system is a TWA pick!!!
LOL = Love Osmo Lots!!!!
Katie Chirhart is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been teaching for sixteen years. She has specializations in early childhood and reading. Recently, she finished her Campus Technology Certification. She began her career in College Station, TX teaching a full inclusion pre-kindergarten class. Currently, Katie lives and works in Shreveport, LA. After spending ten years teaching third grade, she now teaches in an elementary iPad Lab. She has earned When time allows, she enjoys working with teachers far and wide sharing the wonders of technology. Her current job is a dream come true.