I want to start by saying I am not getting paid for any of the comments in this blog supporting this AMAZING PRODUCT!
Two years ago, while attending our #RCSeLearn Expo one of the breakout sessions I attended discussed OSMO. While sitting there with a fellow fourth grade teacher, we both quickly fell in love with the product. Okay, I may have fallen hard and fast for it. The presenters explained how it came with this little mirror that attached to an iPad accompanied by two digital programs called Words and Tangram that include manipulatives; the apps were downloaded onto the iPad itself. As they explained further, I quickly realized how valuable the Words part would be for stations. I totally zoned out from there and started searching for the website.
Well, that’s all it took! I found out that if you purchased one, you could gift one to another teacher for free. HECK, that’s buy one get one free if you work with another teacher! So, my fellow fourth grade teacher and I partnered up, and we each ended up with two base sets of Osmo for the start of the year. That meant we had two bases for the iPads, two sets of Words, and two sets of Tangrams.
My first year with Osmo I utilized it in my reading stations allowing students to use the Letters App. (Along with computer, reading/writing, and folder games as other stations, I also had reading groups.) My students loved it! I had personally purchased two iPads to use with the devices. This meant that I could easily have four students using Osmo at one time (two on each iPad). The hands-on learning that was taking place was unbelievable. They were quiet at the station, other than the excitement when they got something correct or cheering a fellow student on! I was thrilled with the engagement of the students, and I had not even tapped into the lessons that were available for download yet!
What are these games exactly?
In Words, there are multiple ways to play, but in a nutshell students use picture clues to spell words either by themselves or against one another. You receive two sets of the alphabet one in red and one in blue. Thus, students can play on their own or compete against someone. Points build on the side; correct letters show up in the word at the bottom and incorrect answers hang in the air kind of like a cloud. If students are unable to guess a word, help is available one letter at a time as a timer shows up counting down until the letter appears.
Tangram is what we as teachers know and love. Picture puzzles that make our students think outside of the box, manipulating shapes that they have learned in math to form a bigger shape/object. Students can complete it on different levels from easy to hard and work their way through levels in what looks like a forest. Even after they have completed one, they can always go back and do it again!
Later that year, Numbers became available. This came with squares like the ABCs. One set has dots (like dice) and the other set has numerals. In Numbers students use strategies to add, subtract, and make different combinations of numbers in an underwater adventure. Students collect fish as they successfully make combinations. This addition to Osmo had me attempt math stations for the first time for a part of that year.
Student(s): "I like Coding and Pizza Company! In Coding, you have to tell the little guy what to do by linking pieces together so he will eat pies and jump. Pizza Company is like owning your own business! That’s why I like Osmo.”
The students begged to use it, not only in stations but also in indoor recess. Over this past summer Coding became available. Of course, that became part of my arsenal! By this time, my sister had also purchased one, and gifted one to me, and I had received another one from my principal! I was now up to four Osmos! I asked for another table in my room, and worked on getting two more iPads.
This current year I work with four Osmo stations, four sets of Words and Tangrams. I have three sets of Numbers, and two sets of Coding, and now two sets of Pizza Company. (Pizza Company works on money making skills!) I use Osmo in both Reading and Math stations. The students rotate through in their groups. They also have assigned days during indoor recess per their request. They just can’t get enough of the hands-on learning. I can put in each student and track progress as well, and I’ve started downloading new lessons from their lesson bank. If you don’t like their lesson bank, no big deal; create your own! Snap a picture and create your own words to go with a spelling unit, vocabulary unit, or a book that you are currently reading.
Student(s): “I like Pizza Company the best. You have to serve the customers what they want. Sometimes, it can be tricky!”
Are you an art teacher? Fantastic, there is an art side to Osmo as well. Check out Masterpiece on Osmo! I’m in no way, shape, or form an artist, but I sure could be with this! It makes you feel like a real artist. Use the built-in pictures or take a picture from outside that you would like to draw. There are also craft projects that you can do with the help of Masterpiece! You might also be intrigued by Monster. This is the only set I do not own for my classroom. This set is designed around drawing. At this point in my class schedule, I would only have time to allow the students to use it during recess. I do see potential for use during writing or reading to illustrate a piece that students have written, IF my iPads were linked to my printer.
STEM? Did someone say STEM? Sure thing! Besides the Coding, which my niece in 5th grade begs me to bring home on long breaks to play, there is also Newton which comes as a downloadable app. Here students will be guiding a ball towards a hole. They can use any object that you have laying around with this game! I suggest either having an extra supply of paper and markers or dry erase board here.
I’ve created my own “playing field” for my students using a placemat and one of the Osmo stickers. This is nothing that Osmo has to offer. I simply wanted my students to know where the pieces went, and approximately where the camera would pick them up. It also helps them keep the pieces they are not currently using “out of the way”. I also used painters’ tape in the middle of the table to create two halves. This way the students do not mix up letters or numbers with different sets. These tricks have worked out fantastically for the kids. One last thing that I did is that I purchased stools for the students to sit on instead of the regular classroom chairs this year. They love the alternative seating in the class. Some sit on one leg while playing while others opt to stand!
After investing in this product for my classroom I wouldn’t go without it. My students are constantly engaged and beg to use it. I will continue to purchase new pieces for my classroom as they become available and will probably even make complete sets for the ones I have. I highly suggest you look into Osmo for your classroom. As I write this, there is a 15% off deal! I’d even encourage you to follow them on Twitter @PlayOsmo. Osmo has something for everyone, keeps students engaged, and has them begging for more. If you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself!
Today's post comes to us from Ms. Kathy Benner. Born and raised in Richmond, Kathy Benner graduated from RHS in ‘97. She attended IU East and earned an Associate's Degree in General Studies and a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. Kathy started her teaching career in Centerville, IN and came to Richmond in 2008. In 2011, she earned the No Excuses Award and REA Teacher of the Month. Kathy has taught Special Ed, 1st, 4th, 5th, but the majority of her career has been in 3rd grade. She loves working with technology: Spheros, Ollies, and Osmo. In her spare time Kathy enjoys singing, playing guitar, and putting together Lego sets