We aren’t big gamers in this house, unless you count board games because we love those. But even though we own both a PS3 and a Wii we very rarely play video games. But then we found Osmo and I guess now you might call us gamers, although Osmo is not a “traditional” gaming device. It’s something completely new and completely different than anything I’ve ever used before.
What is Osmo
Osmo is an app enable gaming/learning accessory for the iPad. The “guts” of Osmo is just two pieces – a base that your iPad sits in and a small reflector that sits on top of the iPad. It looks incredibly simple yet this clever accessory does some pretty amazing things. The set we received to try out was Coding so I’m going to talk mainly about it and also talk a little about Masterpiece because we discovered that we also had everything we needed to use it too (we just needed to download the additional free app). One of the things I really, really love about the Osmo tools is that they appeal to a broad rage of ages. They are specifically developed for 5-12 year olds and from what I’ve seen so far they really do cover this age span (and often beyond) very well. There is also one game, Monster that was developed for 4-9 year olds.
So I haven’t done anything that resembles coding since back in the days my family owned a Vic 20, which was many moons ago. I was a teenager at that time, considerably older than my six year old daughter, so to be honest I was a little skeptical about the idea of coding for kids that age. I remember it being tedious and boring and if you made a mistake somewhere along the way you had to looks through lines and lines of code to try and figure out where you went wrong. Now my kid is sharp as a tack and really creative but patient she is not. At all. So I wasn’t sure how a coding game was going to go over. Well within a few minutes is was clear that it was going over really, really well.
How does it work? Well to put it simply Osmo Coding is a video game, featuring a loveable, strawberry loving creature named Awbie. You guide Awbie through his happy little world, collecting strawberries and other fun stuff but you don’t do it with a joystick or simply touching buttons. Instead you navigate Awbie’s world with commands.
Osmo Coding is awesome at helping your child develop their logic and computational thinking skills. And having fun while doing it. And the beauty of Osmo Coding is that you can make it as easy or as complex as you need it to be. Kids can start out with thinking one or two moves ahead and work their way up to being able to put together more complex multiple steps.
It is so rewarding for them to put together the codes to get Awbie where he needs to be and then watching them come to life on the iPad. Kids quickly develop confidence and are excited to keep Awbie going. The game is really intuitive. I helped Molly get started with the basic concepts and within minutes she was playing with little input from me. And other than downloading the app (because I haven’t given her access to do that) there’s very little set up required. You just stick the iPad in the stand, put on the reflector and keep your coding blocks handy. They are magnetic so they just slide together. It’s also extremely portable and you don’t need wifi access (once the app is downloaded) so you can play it just about anywhere. I’m already imagining this is going to be a go to game on those rainy camping days when we have to wait it out in the trailer for a while.
So I didn’t really intend on reviewing Masterpiece, considering I hadn’t even heard of it until a couple of days ago. But shortly after we set up our Osmo account I received and email from Osmo suggesting I download the Masterpiece app. I did a little reading and realized we didn’t need any additional pieces to make Masterpiece work, and since my daughter is quite the budding artist, I decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did. It was another instant hit. In a nutshell, Masterpiece turns your iPad into a drawing studio. You get an image on the screen – which can be from your photostream, from the pictures included in the app or from an internet search. Masterpiece renders whatever picture you pick into a line drawing that you trace onto a regular piece of paper. It seems a tiny bit tricky at first, because while you are drawing on the paper in front of you, you are actually looking at the drawing on the iPad. But after a couple of pictures Molly got the feel for it no problem.
Once you’re done drawing your masterpiece the app takes a photo of it that you can save, share, print – whatever you’d like to do with your creation. But the really fun part is that the entire time you are drawing Osmo is recording (don’t worry no sound) your moves and then puts it together in a time lapsed video.
How awesome is that??? Molly loves going back and watching her art come to life. And another cool thing about Masterpiece is you can combine images to come up with something new and totally creative. Like putting mommy’s head on a wizard’s body.
I really can’t say enough good things about the Osmo system. We’ve only just touched the surface here and already we love everything about it. If you’re wondering what requirements you need to make Osmo work you really just need an iPad and luckily it’s compatible with quite a few of them- iPad 2, iPad (3rd Generation), iPad (4th Generation), iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2 and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
We’ve talked about Osmo Coding and Masterpiece but here’s the full list of games available:
- Coding teaches logic and problem solving skills.
- Tangram fosters spatial relational skills.
- Words teaches spelling and critical thinking skills.
- Newton fosters creative problem solving skills.
- Masterpiece teaches drawing and creative confidence.
- Numbers teaches counting, addition and multiplication.
- Pizza Co. teaches math, money, fractions and nonverbal communication
Just a note that once you have the basic game system (the base and the reflector) Masterpiece and Newton require no additional purchase and you can simply download the free apps for each and away you go. We haven’t had a chance to try Newton yet but plan to very soon. I didn’t want to hold off getting this review up because I know people are already working on checking off their Christmas lists and I really think Osmo should be on it.
You can buy Osmo games online direct from Playosmo or through Amazon, Chapters, Bestbuy, Mastermind Toys and the Applestore. Prices vary depending on what you are getting – a big kit, a smaller kit or a single game. The item we received was the Osmo Coding Game Kit, which included the game system, and it retails for around $99. Once you have a starter kit you can buy additional games for less.
Disclaimer: We received an Osmo kit in order to bring you this review. All opinions are honest and 100% our own. Put this on your Christmas list!!