As we begin our homeschooling journey, I've been on the lookout for educational materials that don't take up a lot of space, that my kids will enjoy using and that they can use without my help. While we'll certainly be doing a fair bit of structured "book work", I like the idea of having several options for them to use while I'm nursing or making lunch, or getting the baby down for a nap. In my searching, I stumbled upon Play Osmo. It's an iPad add on, you use your own iPad and buy the base and reflector and any games you'd like from them.
Osmo was kind enough to send us the Creative Set and we are loving it! I thought my kids would like it, but I didn't know just how much! Lulu (4.5) loves all of the games and I love that they're simple enough that even Abram (2.5) can participate, although he's usually pretty happy to sit back and watch too!
Masterpiece is a really clever app that allows you to draw whatever you'd like! You can choose from pictures that are included with the app, pictures saved on your device or take a picture of something around you! My kids love drawing the simple illustrations that are included and I like trying to draw something a little more complicated. The Osmo records a video of you drawing and it's fun to watch it when it's done! You can resize the images to fit where you'd like, so Lulu has illustrated some greeting cards and used it to practice handwriting!
Newton is my favorite app, there are 60 levels to beat, each one harder than the previous one! Balls fall from the top of the screen and you need to guide them to the appropriate area. Using the Osmo creative board, you can draw platforms, ramps, baskets, etc. for them to go through or use other objects (you hand, a Duplo block, the baby's pacifier, etc) by laying them on the board. My kids aren't quite able to beat the harder levels yet, but they love experimenting with different shapes and objects. They introduce new concepts and it takes creativity and critical thinking to solve each level.
Monster is the favorite of both kids. A big, friendly monster named Moe leads kids on an adventure, helps them decorate a house or puts on a magic show! The kids create all of the props for the stories! Using the Osmo board and wipe off markers, Moe tells the kids which items they need, they draw them however they'd like and Moe magically pulls them into the game! My kids LOVE this game, and I love that it promotes co-operative play, creative thinking and fine motor skills. The good news is that Moe doesn't care if your flower looks like a broom, or the broom is actually just a scribbled line, so Abram can play just as well as Lulu can.
Another really cool game I recently purchased is called Pizza Co. The kids (mostly Lulu) really enjoy it and it teaches so many good skills! It's a time management game where the player is managing a pizza shop. Customers come in and tell them what kind of pizza they want. The kids quickly make the pizza and slide it off the screen and into the oven! After the customer eats the pizza, it's the kid's job to collect payment and make change. After I bought it, I was worried it might be too tricky for Lulu, but I was pleased to find out you can play it on "junior mode". It's the perfect level for Lulu right now, which means she has lots of room to learn and grow!
I like that it introduces kids to the concept of money and making change. They also illustrate each math problem on a number line and write it out mathematically. It seamlessly introduces math concepts to kids in a practical, fun way!
My kids have also started to realize how important it is to keep the ingredients and money organized, if they don't it's too hard to find what they need quickly! Who doesn't want their kids learning that lesson?!
The whole set up packs up so compactly and it's easy for the kids to put away and take out on their own. I love that I can sit down to nurse the baby and the kids can set up this activity on their own. It's also nice to know they're actually interacting and learning some new skills while playing! We don't have a TV or DVD player, so they spend very little time in front of a screen. While we still limit how much time they spend on the iPad, I love having these educational options!
Another cool thing that Osmo just came out with is a base for the iPhone! It's nice to have a smaller option sometimes! Or I can let the kids use my phone while I work on the iPad. I love the portability and simplicity of the Osmo.
We've loved the Osmo and I'm hoping to add a few more games to our collection as we get further into the fall/winter and our homeschooling year!
Check it out here: PLAY OSMO