Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Osmo Game System

With the help of Mr. P and has amazing ICT Blog (go check it out!), I discovered a great little toy recently - The Osmo!
If nothing else, I'll be getting a lot of hours of fun out of it myself... However, I really like it as a simple tool to engage children in solving puzzles through the use of critical thinking skills.

On the box, the Osmo suggests it is a 'unique gaming accessory for the iPad that comes with games that will change the way your child plays'. Indeed... Quite a bold statement! But the Osmo really is pretty special. Let's see how it works!

The first thing out of the box is the base and reflector. Your iPad sits in the base and the reflector slips over the front facing camera, which contains a mirror in order to allow the iPad to "see" in front of it - clever!

iPad with base and reflector attached
The Osmo currently comes with three games - Tangram, Newton and Words. All three apps can be download for free from the App Store, but the hardware is needed to play, of course!

This is a physics game that will feel fairly familiar, in which you have to make the falling balls land on targeted zone by putting any object on the 'playing field'. The objects that you place can literally be anything - a pen, a set of keys, your own hand! You can also place a piece of A4 paper in front of the iPad and draw lines on the page...

Tangram is a lot of fun! You need to arrange the physical tan pieces to match the on-screen shape. You can start off with a simple puzzle where you are told which shape goes in which position, and quickly progress to the real challenge of having a complete silhouette with no guidance at all. I could see this being very popular in a classroom and having the iPad there to interact with will make it so much more engaging!

The last game in the set is Words and, as with all three, it is a familiar game played in a more engaging digital way. This is the Osmo's take on Hangman. Words is a two player/team game with each side having their own complete alphabet on small tiles. A picture clue will appear on the screen and both players have to frantically work out what the word in and then fling the correct letters in front of the iPad. Obvious links to consolidating phonics skills here, as well as developing those all important critical thinking skills too.

Ultimately, I really like the Osmo. It has rejuvenated some classic games/puzzles and I know for a fact the kids'll dig it!