For those who are unfamiliar with Osmo, this system utilizes a smart device (an iPad or an Amazon Fire tablet) and augmented reality (AR) technology to give kids an educational gaming experience that blends virtual components and physical, tangible play pieces.
The easiest way to jump into Osmo is with a starter kit, which includes the necessary Osmo base for your smart device (device not included), along with some games and game materials. While Osmo offers a variety of themed starter packs, its Preschool Starter pack hones in on the needs and skill sets of a particular age group: kids ages 3-5.
This kit comes with the same contents as Osmo’s Little Genius Starter Kit, but with even more materials and learning potential for young learners. In addition to the base, which holds up the tablet, this kit comes with 38 silicone sticks and rings, 19 costume pieces, a silicone play mat, a creative board, four erasable markers, and a fuzzy pouch that doubles as an eraser for the markers. The kit does come with instructions, but the Osmo YouTube channel also offers instructional videos to help adults set up the system.
All of these materials are compatible with the nine included, app-based games: Shape Builder, Counting Town, ABCs, Squiggle Magic, Costume Party, Stories, Monster, Masterpiece, and Newton.
Each of these apps encourages at least one learning concept through open-ended play, including early reading, number recognition, shapes, and even social-emotional intelligence. Osmo specifically bundled these games for preschoolers because they all focus on introducing the basics of these educational concepts. In each game, kids will interact with both on-screen characters and the physical game pieces in front of them.
For example, in Shape Builder, kids use the playmat and the silicone sticks and rings. In the first level, kids will see an oven on screen that they need to “feed” with different-shaped foods. They can tap the meal they want to create, then they need to create the shape of that food on the playmat using the various sticks and rings. Using the tablet’s camera, the app will detect the shape on the playmat!
With this game — as with all of them — an adult may need to play along with younger kids for the first few times to help get the materials ready and guide them through the mechanics of the game. However, Mo (the Osmo mascot) and other animated narrators will also help kids along through verbal instructions throughout each game. Note that kids will need to play most of these games with the volume on, so be prepared with kid-friendly headphones if you need playtime to stay quiet.
Check out the video below to see some of the other included games in action!
In addition to the educational value, this set has some other features that adults will appreciate, including a set of stacking storage containers, which neatly fit all of the game materials after play (and learning!) time is over.
And while the starting kit is an investment, it is something that will last: As kids outgrow these preschool games and are ready for more advanced learning content, parents can purchase additional games from Osmo. The company offers games designed for kids up to age 12, which means this system can be a favorite for years to come.
Head to playosmo.com to browse the additional games and learn more about the system, then get kids learning through play long before their first day of school with this Preschool Starter kit!