The 10 Best Osmo Games
This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in December of 2016. Osmo is an award-winning game that uses toys along with an iPad or a Fire tablet to teach kids science, math, engineering, and reading concepts. Made for youngsters aged 3 to 11, the activities merge tactile exploration with technology to foster creativity and problem-solving skills. Your child is sure to enjoy one of these sets, many of which are used in thousands of classrooms today. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 24, 2020:
Today the Genius Tangram joins the list, which is based on a game invented in China around two centuries ago that involves the arrangement of two-dimensional shapes. In this application, kids can create more than 500 designs in total by matching onscreen illustrations. It provides real-time audio and visual feedback, so players will know they’re making progress. This set replaces the now-discontinued Hot Wheels MindRacers on our list. We also replaced the no-longer-available Creative Set with the similar Monster Drawings, which comes with red, blue, green, and purple markers and an erasable white board. Kids can sketch things and watch them become part of animated activities on the screen of an iPad or Fire tablet. The included marker pouch doubles as an eraser for the board. You can choose to play the on-screen games in either English or Spanish.
We also replaced Coding Adventures with Awbie, which is unavailable at this time, with the Coding Starter Kit, which is similar to the former yet comes with the base component that’s required to play. The color-code tiles are easy to connect and will help you guide the friendly on-screen character Awbie on his adventure to find delicious strawberries. This set is a great way to teach the very basics of programming concepts to children. We kept the Genius Starter Kit in a prominent position on the list. Like the Coding Adventures set, it comes with the required base. This versatile choice gives you everything you need for a variety of activities like drawing, counting with dice, spelling words, and solving tangram puzzles. As noted in our last update, these sets may contain small parts, so be sure to follow the stated age requirements and always supervise children for a safe playtime.
November 26, 2019:
The newly added Detective Agency comes with a fun spyglass and four double-sided maps that are each packed with intriguing clues. Kids will learn about geography, history, and culture as they search for items in six famous cities. This set combines a classic search-and-find game with digital fun. It features one main story mode and four chapters, and one of three difficulty settings is automatically selected when the player’s age is input at the start. (You can also change the difficulty manually at any time from the settings menu.)
The Genius Words is a highly engaging, interactive way game that helps to strengthen one’s spelling skills, and options are offered for beginner to expert levels. It encourages quick thinking and, like the other Osmo games, incorporates both technology and tactile learning.
The Little Genius Costume Pieces is a highly entertaining game that teaches preschoolers problem-solving and empathy as they try to find the best party outfits for a variety of people and animals. Any time a character gets dressed up, he or she will react on the screen, which can provide hours of fun for tots as they try out different combinations to see just how the characters will react.
Budding artists will enjoy the Super Studio Disney Princess, which comes with a sketchpad, a marker, an eraser, and guidance on drawing popular characters Ariel, Belle, and Rapunzel. Additional character sets are available that feature Mickey Mouse and his friends, the gang from “Incredibles 2,” and Anna and Elsa from “Frozen 2.”
It should be noted that no Wi-fi is necessary for playing any of these games; it’s only required for the initial download of the corresponding apps to your iPad or Fire tablet. All Osmo games are designed in Palo Alto, California and come with a 90-day warranty.
As with any toy, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s age-related guidelines when giving any of these sets to a child. If you’re looking for additional toys that foster STEM learning, check out our list of best kid’s coding toys.
Osmo Games: Embracing The Future Of Educational Toys
These games rely instead on tablets — specifically late model iPads and Amazon Fire tablets — and iPhones with large enough screens to accommodate game displays.
When I was growing up, my sister and I had an educational toy that interfaced with our VCR. To this day, I’m not sure how the controller that came with it input our button selections, but the device effectively turned our TV screen into an interactive, educational gameplay experience. It was intended to provide very young children with access to lessons in color, shape, and numbers, and I spent many an hour with it. Did it turn me into a genius? Well, I have my opinion on that question, but I’ll leave it open for debate.
The point here is that educational toys have been a part of our culture for a while now, and with good reason. A child’s brain does a tremendous amount of developing in his or her first handful of years, and while certain, more complex information isn’t going to take root anywhere in there, you can still lay the groundwork for a more comprehensive understanding of the physical and theoretical worlds. In other words, your kid’s not going to understand general relativity at age two just because her brain is rapidly developing, nor will she be able to store it in there and recall it later in life. But with a good educational game, kids can enter preschool and eventually kindergarten with an edge over the other kids, allowing them to jet to the top of the class and focus more clearly on the most advanced lessons available.
While educational toys are certainly good for establishing patterns of recognition and understanding in young children, they provide a specific benefit to parents, as well, one that I suspect was deeply at play in my own case, given how often we utilized our educational games. I’m talking here about free time. Parents don’t get a lot of it, and if you can sit you little one down in front of a captivating game that will do more for their brain development than a regular video game of movie would, while also freeing yourself up to get some chores done around the house (or just get off your feet for a while), then that’s a blessing not worth passing up.
Osmo games don’t rely on VCRs and televisions for their interactivity they way the systems of yore did. These games rely instead on tablets — specifically late model iPads and Amazon Fire tablets — and iPhones with large enough screens to accommodate game displays. Unfortunately, that rules out some tablet owners who opted for Samsung devices or any other brand, or those whose hardware is too outdated. Once you have the right phone or tablet hooked up, however, setting up and playing these games is a breeze. And given how readily kids take to the use of smartphones, your young ones will probably be more than capable of setting up the game, playing through it, and even breaking down and cleaning up after themselves when they’re done.
Choosing The Best Osmo Games For Your Kids
Before we get into the specifics that differentiate one Osmo game from the next, it’s important to note that these games are intended for children ages four and up, and that some feature pieces that could pose a choking risk to children any younger than four. That’s probably a good thing in the end, as you won’t have to entrust your iPad to a child who’s just as interested in putting the tablet in his mouth than he is in playing whatever game it’s running. Of course, that’s not to say that all of the games that Osmo makes are suitable for children as young as four. Some may be a little too advanced for the average four-year-old to comprehend, but all should be safe for that age and up unless otherwise noted.
One thing to keep in mind as you shop, however, is that most Osmo games come in one of three configurations: no base, tablet base, and phone base.
When it comes to actually choosing a game for your child, much of the decision will have to do with any areas in his or her education that you might want to shore up before grade school begins. If they seem to have a hard time understanding simple math, a game devoted to numbers might be your best bet. If their coordination seems a little off, you might want to look into a game that focuses on spatial reasoning. Take stock of your kid’s interests and abilities, and that should help guide you toward a smart choice.
One thing to keep in mind as you shop, however, is that most Osmo games come in one of three configurations: no base, tablet base, and phone base. If you’re buying your first Osmo game, you’re going to need a base on which to rest whatever screen you want to use. If that’s a tablet, reach for a game that comes bundled with a tablet base. If it’s a phone, go for a phone base. You can also always buy the bases on their own, but it’s usually a better deal to get them with a game. If you already have one or more bases, you can simply invest in standalone games that appeal to you.
A Brief History Of Educational Toys
For much of human history, children’s toys were often little more than miniatures of common tools used by adults, or dolls of some kind fashioned after humans or other animals. Childhood wasn’t necessarily a time for play throughout much of that history, as kids were expected to help with various tasks related to their family’s survival from an early age.
Around the time of the Industrial Revolution, kids in the newly rising middle class found themselves with more free time on their hands, and some wily inventors sought to make a buck off of that free time. One such inventor thought to use that time a little more constructively. This man, Friedrich Froebel, created a set of educational toys known as Froebel gifts, which included a variety of puzzles and brain teasers designed to prepare kids for their schooling.
Froebel’s gifts were a hit, and they continue to be sold today. More importantly, however, is that they launched an industry of toys dedicated to the education of children, an industry that Osmo games currently dominate.