Thursday, June 19, 2014


I've been seeing ads on Facebook recently for something called Osmo that is supposedly going to be available at the end of the summer. It is a stand for your iPad (or iPad mini) with a clip that goes over the top where the camera is so the camera can see down onto the table in front of it. The camera input is then integrated into an app, so that objects that you manipulate in the real world cause things to happen in the app. There are no batteries required (other than the one in the iPad) and it doesn't need an internet connection.

Initially it will come with three activities, but I can see there is potential for many more.  As an ELL teacher, the activity that interests me most is the one where student have to find the letters that spell out a word that goes with a picture on the screen. I like the fact that kids can play this alone, against a partner, or collaboratively as a group. I'm disappointed that, as far as I can see from the information available online, they have chosen to go with using upper case letters rather than lower case. I would love it if there was an option to customize the game with my own pictures and words. I can see this concept working well for a simple addition or subtraction game too.
UPDATE: I was very happy to hear from Karen at Osmo less than 24 hours after writing the above that the Words game IS customizable. She wrote:
you can create your own book of vocab and photos. This feature will still be in beta version when we ship, but it exists ;-)
It's nice to see that a) Osmo replies promptly to customers and b) is really thinking through how teachers might want to use their apps. Now my next request is for the ability to create separate books for different topics or at least a way to easily pick the vocabulary items that will be in play :-)

The 'Newton' game involves drawing or placing real objects in order to mark a path on the screen that will cause virtual balls that fall down the screen to hit a target. It looks like fun, but I can't think of a way to work it into my curriculum - maybe it would be a good game for indoor recess!
The Tangrams game puts an image on the screen that the student has to match with physical manipulatives - the app checks the placement of their pieces and will give them feedback when they have them placed correctly. There are three different levels of difficulty.

It's a very interesting concept, but I'm not sure how many teachers will buy into it at US$100 per set! If you are prepared to help crowdsource the product, you can pre-order it for $50 if you sign up by June 22nd. Check it out here. (Disclosure - if you order through this link, I get a $5 discount on my order.)

Here's a video review of it I found on YouTube: