I first heard about the Osmo many years back. It’s an extension for the ipad (and now Kindle and iphone as well!) that includes interactive apps and games. It seemed like a cool concept, but I wasn’t sure how it would hold up practically. Was it actually a tool that encourages learning and logical thinking, or was it just a gimmicky gaming app?
This post is up-to-date as of October 2023.
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We recently had the opportunity to start using an Osmo for school, and I wanted to share some of our experience with you to help you decide if it would be a good fit for your home or classroom.
What We Love About It:
I was really impressed with how well-made and durable all the Osmo parts are. While we teach our boys to treat what we own carefully, I love when something is durable and feels like it will actually hold up to normal wear and tear. Update: 6 years later, and it’s still going strong!
The apps we loved the most were the ones that required you to really engage with both the physical part of the game as well as the screen.
There is so much going on here that I love! Spatial recognition, analyzing a picture and recreating it, patterns, and more. We started on the easy level, but as you keep progressing the puzzles become more difficult and require more thinking.
This was a super fun game that all three of my boys loved. It involved not just learning adding in different ways, but also planning ahead to create combos. It’s another game that progresses well with levels.
Because of they were constantly adding new numbers together, it required a lot of working back and forth between the tiles and the screen.
This was the game that the boys were the most excited about. And it did not disappoint! The game itself was super fun, and I loved how it made them think very logically about what they needed to do to move the monster around the map and perform actions. The difficulty progression was handled very well.
I’m still really impressed with this one – it really required kids to use critical thinking to progress, but in a way that wasn’t frustrating or discouraging. Six years later, and while we’ve loved MANY of the Osmo add-ons we’ve gotten, this hands-down remains our favorite!
Update: Other Games
My kids have slowly collected add-ons over the years (they make GREAT gifts!). One of my sons really enjoyed the Detective Agency game (like a super fun, interactive Where’s Waldo).
My daughter loves her Disney Princess drawing add-on.
They also have several levels of math add-ons that are super high-quality, and fun. These work great for helping reinforce math concepts, but not necessarily teach them.
What We Didn’t Love:
The setup for the Osmo and apps was very easy. (Just a note: make sure you buy the right version! The Osmo now works with ipad, Kindle, AND iphone, but just check the Amazon listing carefully to make sure you’re purchasing the correct one.)
But because of the way the stand and the camera attachment works, the Osmo only works when the ipad is out of a case. We always keep my husband’s ipad in an Otterbox case to keep it safe. It has protected it from many, many drops over the years. So it makes me a little nervous to have the boys playing with the ipad without the case on.
Update: Woohoo, Osmo now makes an ipad case that works with their setup! Just make sure you buy the right size.
I was not super impressed with the Words game and the drawing app.
The Word game involved a lot of guessing and it seemed so random what pictures and words they had. My son who is learning how to read was just confused and my older son who can read was easily bored by it.
What would make this so much better to me was if they worked together with some sort of phonics curriculum – I can imagine how powerful this would be to work in conjunction with an app similar to Teach Your Monster to Read where it’s teaching the different letter sounds and how to build words.
Update: Osmo now has a dedicated reading adventure game! We haven’t bought this one yet, so I can’t speak to the quality, but it’s on one of my kids’ Christmas lists. I’ll give this an update when I have a verdict.
The drawing app was okay (one of my boys enjoyed playing it once). But I didn’t love that it just involved staring at the screen, and didn’t involve a ton of creativity.
Another update: As of 2023, there are newer versions of the drawing apps that are phenomenal! My daughter got one (the Disney Princess Super Studio) for her birthday this year, and it was so cool to watch her not only learn to draw, but to watch her creations come to life. Seeing how Osmo has continued to advance their tech and apps, I’d happily try more of their drawing add-ons at this point.
What I Recommend in 2023:
Overall, we’re enjoying the Osmo and I like that we’ve been able to build it into our homeschool routine.
If you get the Osmo, you’ll need to get the base Osmo kit – this one works with ipads AND iphones, but there is a Kindle version available too (just make sure you select the right variation when you order!).
It comes with:
- The Base (which you need to use any of the Osmo apps and games)
- Words (while we didn’t love the word game, it comes with the basic set)
- Access to the other apps that don’t require extra pieces – like the Drawing app and the Newton app.
If you’re using the Osmo with your ipad, I’d HIGHLY recommend getting the Osmo case that goes with it. I really wish this had been out when we first got our Osmo, because that was one of the things that made me the most nervous about using it when the kids were younger.
I highly recommend the Coding Awbie Game. While we loved some of the other Osmo apps, this was by far the favorite and makes the whole system a pretty powerful (and fun!) tool for kids.
We also love their newer drawing apps. We haven’t tried it yet, but another on our list to try soon is one of their math add-ons, Secrets of Dragons, for older kids here.
And we haven’t personally tried this, but they now even have full learning kits by grade level. If we end up trying one of these out, I’ll make sure I update this post with our review.
You can check out the full Osmo store here on Amazon to see all the add-ons they offer.
When we first got our Osmo, the base and add-ons all came in this beautiful, handy boxes that were magnetic so they stayed together beautifully. I don’t think that’s true anymore, though it looks like the base kit comes with some small storage containers. If you’re having a hard time keeping it all organized, Osmo now has a separate storage organizer.
Should you get the Osmo?
If your child is three or under, you may want to wait until they are older to get something like the Osmo. While my younger kids have been able to mess around and have fun playing with it, it’s really designed for kindergarten and up. If you’re looking for something that is a complete curriculum in a subject, then the Osmo probably isn’t a great fit for you. It’s more of a educational supplement. And if money is super tight for you, spending $100+ on a game system (even an educational one) may not be a great idea.
But, if you’re looking for a interactive educational tool to build some fun into your child’s or student’s education and you don’t mind investing in something durable (and that’s a huge step up from the generic educational apps you find in the app store), then I think the Osmo is absolutely worth buying.