- Compatible iPads: All iPads except Generation 1, iPad Pro 11-inch and iPad Pro 12.9-inch. The minimum iOS version needed is iOS 9.
- Compatible Fire Tablets: 7th Generation Fire 7, 7th Generation Fire HD 8, 7th Generation Fire HD10, 8th Generation Fire HD 8, 9th Generation Fire 7, 9th Generation Fire HD 10
The Osmo has been on the market for a few years and it looked like an interesting product when I first saw it. Osmo uses an extension base and reflector to “read” physical movement below and in front of the tablet and translates this into the Amazon Fire Tablet (or iPad).
I hear you, Screen Time. I’m not a huge fan of screen time and would rather #JasperBean choose something else. However, this has been something pretty much unavoidable, especially with the Covid-19 pandemic still hanging about. Home learning and connecting with people outside our home have largely been conducted on an electrical device of one form or another. Therefore, this was the perfect time for us to try out Osmo and see if it was just a gimmicky gaming system or actually encourages learning through play. I love providing #JasperBean with games that encourage critical, creative and logical thinking. Therefore, was really interested to find out how Osmo lived up to this.
Setting up the Osmo
This was as easy as 1,2,3. The Osmo system consists of 2 pieces of hardware, a base and reflector. Before starting on any game, you download the Osmo app and then choose the games that you have. There are grown-up instructions that come with each game that informs you what you need and what is included. In most cases, you will only require the Osmo base/reflector, a compatible device (we have the Amazon Fire HD 8) and an internet connection to download the game.
Coding Awbie (ages 5-12)
#JasperBean had previously had experience with coding when playing with his screen-free stem coding toy. So this was the first game he picked to play with. The game itself was fun and encouraged critical and logical thinking. He had to read the screen and think ahead to move Awbie around the screen using tangible blocks. By combining action and corresponding numbers to indicate the number of steps, jumps etc, Awbie will follow these actions on screen. The pieces were magnetic and fitted together perfectly with minimal fiddling. There were plenty of hints and the progression of levels was well balanced.
The only thing that did annoy us a bit was when we placed the pieces together to tell the monster his next moves, it did occasionally misread the information. To overcome this, we either moved the pieces away from the tablet. Or removed and reattached the last action piece to get it going again. It does help to make sure that unplayed pieces are not “seen” by the reflector. We loved this game. It was appealing and the levels were well laid out and a great start for children to understand basic command structures.
Detective Agency (ages 5-12)
#JasperBean has always been fascinated with world travel. To this 5-year-old, a holiday is not a holiday unless we discover something new. After a couple of plays of Detective Agency, he has already learnt a few landmarks including a quick background of New York, Paris and Rio de Janeiro, I’m genuinely amazed at home quickly he has absorbed this information. The set includes 8 different maps with a fictional Osmo Town. There are lots of actions and colourful illustrations that engage the child from the get-go. Funny sounds and silly character voices make the game even more attractive to a 5-year-old.
However, it is quite repetitive and even #JasperBean kept asking me why the things are constantly being stolen. We are hoping that the game will get more challenging as we play through the levels and there will be other interactive aspects to it. Otherwise, I think this game is more suited for the 4-7 age bracket rather than up to 12.
Super Studio Disney Mickey Mouse & Friends (ages 5-11)
A great little introduction to drawing that comes to life interactively. The Osmo does what it says and translates the drawing on the drawing pad onto the screen. This improves children’s fine motor skills and creativity with a bit of guidance. It’s a great way to build confidence in drawing as well. Cartoon fans would love the Disney characters and is a good basic introduction to the world of CGI. I believe this is great for younger children or those who aren’t a huge fan of drawing to get them interested. However, if they are more creative and want more freedom to add details, then the Super Studio may disappoint you as it does limit the areas you can draw in. Unlike Coding Awbie and Detective Agency, Super Studio does not have its own storing unit for the pens and eraser.
The Osmo base was much bigger than I had anticipated but actually was the perfect height for #JasperBean. It is extremely sturdy and well made. It even had extendable legs that almost doubled its height, we didn’t require this, but was a nice little touch. The pieces that came with the games we received were durable and didn’t feel like flimsy pieces of plastic. The games don’t come cheap, and although we do teach him to be careful with his belongings, he is only just 5. So I’m glad the parts look like they will hold up to a rough and ready boy.
When you sign up for the Osmo account, you will also receive a weekly summary. This gives you an overview of what your child (or yourself) have played, duration and app activity. If you wanted to view more play data, there is also a parent app that you can download separately. Secondly, the games do not require an internet connection to access and there are no in-app purchases.
Should you get the Osmo system? Things to consider.
Before going ahead with any purchase, it is good to know whether the equipment you have is compatible first. Each Osmo kit comes with a base and reflector only, either for the iPad or Amazon Fire.
Here are some of the devices that are compatible with the current Osmo.
Personally, we have loved playing with Coding Awbie and Detective Agency. #JasperBean is not a huge fan of drawing, so naturally, Super Studio didn’t go down too well. As it doesn’t come cheap, this add-on educational tool probably wouldn’t be your first go to purchase. However, if money isn’t tight and you like the idea of a guided interactive game that combines hands-on learning with screen time. Osmo is definitely worth considering as it incorporates embodied learning with some added fun.
We all know, once we finish a game, there is not much fun returning to replay it a second, third or fourth time. There is only that many times you want to draw a birthday cake for Mickey or some new shoes for Donald. And the maps don’t miraculously change their layout. So once you play detective one too many times, you mostly memorise where everything is. It would be great if there was more open play. Or if there are downloadable levels to extend the life of these games. However, I have read that some games provided by Osmo do allow open play and some can be replayed at a more advanced level.
Learning on the Go!
As the games do not require wi-fi to access or play, this means they would be great for long travels and holidays. I’ve already got my eyes on the Osmo – Pizza Co. Game for mental maths, because you know we all need to learn how to use money to buy and share a pizza with our friends, right?
Osmo has definitely earned a spot in our learning corner. It truly is educational and fun at the same time. Although pricey, they are comparable with many so-called educational games that fizzle out in the first instance. We like the fact that there are so many different games to choose from. Each with a different learning value that provides a different physical and digital experience. Although replay value may be low for some game kits. The challenging gaming aspect of it makes it incredibly engaging and fun for kids in this age range.
Lastly, we recommend the Osmo because it extends the tablet’s functionality for educational purposes. Rather than just staring mindlessly at a screen, the Osmo is an all-round hands-on fantastic kit. It exercises fine motor skills, problem-solving, literacy, numeracy and creativity skills. It blends abstract learning with real live objects seamlessly.
I hope this review gives you a better idea of what the Osmo Kit can do and whether it is something you would consider for your little ones or even friends and family.
Thank you for reading and until next time…
Love, MsMamaBean x
Disclaimer: I was provided with the Osmo Base Kit and games in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the developing company, and/or its affiliates, in anyway.