I’ve talked before about screen-time and finding the balance between books and technology. I raved about the Amazon Kindle for Kids in this post as being a great tool for screen-time. I’m back today to tell you about my favorite technology-based toy – Osmo. My kids love this multi-sensory tech-based learning toy because it marries the iPad with tactile play for a rewarding and unique playtime experience. I intend to use it throughout the summer to sneakily keep my boys on top of their school skills. I’m sure they won’t object because they love this toy too!
Ready for my in-depth review of this learning toy? Let’s go game by game, shall we?
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Osmo Base Game (Genius Kit)
For Osmo to work properly with your iPad, you need the proper base game known as The Genius Kit. This kit comes with the iPad Stand, Camera cover (which detects the play) and 5 games- Masterpiece (a tracing art game my young kids can’t quite do), Newtown, Numbers, Words, and Tangrams.
Newton is a fun Science Game which has your kids using the laws of gravity by manipulating the dropping ball to hit a target. You can either use markers on a piece of paper (or a dry erase board) or everyday objects put under the camera’s view. Those items are then shown on the screen and the balls bounce or roll accordingly. It’s fun to see the kids try to solve each level.
In Numbers, your kids will use the included dice and numeral number chips to pop bubbles and rescue fish. The game starts off easy, but as your kid’s skills grow, the game changes in difficulty, which means your younger kids will get a different experience than the older ones.
If you have the numbers chips (they come with the base game) you can download Numbers Toybox for $5 in the app store for the youngest children. The math is a bit more basic than in Numbers so little once can get comfortable with the new concept. Kids can work on number skills using 3 fun games to cook, create fireworks and race veggies. Once again, Osmo grows with your child, so each child has a profile and the game will keep track of what math levels each of your children is on.
Tangrams are, well, tangrams! The shape blocks are included and various masks are put on the screen. As your child manipulates the shapes, when they get the correct shape in the right spot, the shape will illuminate on the screen showing you what shapes are left to discover. Tangrams are an excellent puzzle for mental stimulation and are often used in aptitude tests.
Lastly, in Words your children will use letter chips to practice spelling words on the screen. They can even challenge friends or a computer to a fast spelling competition.
Moving on from the Genius kit, there are 4 more games that we have purchased so far. Pizza Co., Monster, Coding Jam and Hot Wheels MindRacers. Let’s start with Pizza Co.
In Pizza Co. kids are tasked with running a pizza shop! They need to use the included pizza pie and toppings to create the pizzas their on-screen customers’ request. Once the pizza is made, they flip the pie over to reveal a table top where they will use the included dollars and cents to make change for their customers. This is a great game for siblings to play together. My four-year-old makes the pizzas and my 6-year-old does the math part. They even create dialogue and names for their customers.
Another favorite for kids of all ages is Monster. This drawing game comes with a dry erase board, markers and a pouch that doubles as a wipe. Mo, a lovable orange character that reminds me of Monsters Inc.’s Sully, goes on imaginary adventures with your children. He leads them to space, the ocean and even to their home base and the entire time he asks them to draw their surroundings. As Mo walks around the screen, he will pass trees, flowers, spaceships, and showers created by your child and stored in the memory of the game. Each time the game turns on, the kids will be able to revisit the imaginary world they drew. It’s incredible!
Coding Jam is next on the list. This musical game introduces your children to the concept of coding. The included coding blocks are used to make sequences that instruct the musicians on-screen to create melodies. Those melodies can be layered with other musicians and played together to form a song which your child can email to you! As they create certain patterns, special musicians will be unlocked. My boys love to code music and then dance around the room to their original tunes.
The last game we own, Hot Wheels Mindracers is definitely the least educational of the bunch. The game claims to help real-world dexterity by teaching the kids to anticipate and strategize how to win the race. Really though, it’s a racing toy and I don’t see much educational value in this one. It’s another great sibling game if you are looking for that though. Funnily enough, this is the one my kids play the least! (at $60 you can totally pass on this game!)
I don’t yet own Awbie but I intend to get purchase it for my boys for the holidays this year. It’s another coding game and since my oldest says Coding Jam is his favorite, I see this being a hit!
As I mentioned above, I love all things Osmo. I think it is a wonderful tech toy that uses open-ended imagination to create amazing things. I’ll be using it as a teaching tool in my arsenal this summer – especially on rainy days! I love the idea that my kids will be able to work on their skills while having fun!