A few years ago, I thought I would help out the parents of my gifted and talented students by writing about some games, toys, or books that I thought might make good purchases during the holiday season. I called the series of posts, “Gifts for the Gifted,” and I have continued to do it annually on every Friday in November and December. These gifts are suggestions for any child – not just those who qualify for a GT program. Sometimes I receive a free product for review, but I am not paid for these posts, and I never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy for my own child. For past “Gifts for the Gifted” posts, you can visit this page.
Osmo first made the “Gifts for the Gifted” list in 2014. Since then, the company has continued to push the envelope as it produces more interactive, educational games for children that combine physical pieces with the digital interface of an iPad. Here is what I wrote about Osmo’s “Coding” game this summer:
It seems like just yesterday when our class was asked to beta test a new product from a company called Tangible Play. It was a tangram game that integrated physical pieces with an app on your iPad using a special base and mirror. Our students even got to teleconference with the developers to give feedback on their experience.
Since then, the un-named set we tested has become Osmo, and there have been many evolutions of the tangram game as well as new additions to the suite of games available. It has been gratifying to see a company that is so interested in education to grow and continue to contribute to educational technology in such a positive way.
The latest Osmo set is, “Coding.” My students have been trying it out this summer during our robot camp, and I have been watching their play with interest. The set includes magnetics blocks that look similar to the coding blocks you might see in Scratch or Blockly. You can move them around and snap them together. My students particularly like the “play” block with an arrow button to press whenever they are ready to start the program.
On the iPad screen, players have a friendly looking creature named Awbie, who they can direct to move toward different objects in the app while using the physical blocks on the table.
One thing I love about all of the Osmo apps is that they include practically no instructions. There are some on-screen gestures showing where to move blocks at the beginning, but that’s about it. The students figure out on their own where Awbie needs to go, and quickly deduce which blocks to use as the game slowly becomes more challenging.
Students from 6-11 have enjoyed the Coding game from Osmo and there is often a crowd gathered around it as the students encourage players to try certain blocks. It has been a great warm-up activity as kids arrive for our camp each day.
Like all Tangible Play apps for Osmo, Coding is free. However, you do need to purchase the physical pieces and the set that includes the base and mirror piece if you don’t already have it. Coding is another great resource to introduce programming to young students.