Playing Outside iPad's Screen with Osmo

Tangible Play, Inc. sent me Osmo, an educational gaming system that works with iPad. They also provided Osmo to one lucky reader of Learning in Hand. The winner was randomly drawn from entries on December 23, 2014.

Osmo was created by young parents and encourages social interaction by expanding interaction with games to the area in front of an iPad. It does this by providing a white stand and a red mirror that works with iPad and iPad mini. The reflector lets the front-facing camera recognize what is placed in front of iPad. Something to know is that iPad must be removed from any case in order to fit into the stand.

Osmo has three apps you download from the App Store that interact with the real objects you put in front of iPad.


The Tangram for Osmo app has you arrange puzzles pieces to match the onscreen shapes. The Osmo kit includes the wooden tangram shapes. 


The Newton for Osmo app has you try to redirect falling balls onto a target. You can draw on paper or use real world objects for the balls to bounce off to hit the targets.


The Words for Osmo app is my favorite. It is a spelling and vocabulary game for two players (you could play on your own or with more players, but two players is best). The goal of the game is to examine the picture clue and be the first to guess and spell out the on-screen hidden word by tossing down the real-life letters fast than your opponent.

The words and photos you can use with Osmo's Words app are not limited to the Classic and Junior lists that you initially see within the app. Clicking Download More takes you to the web browser where you can install many more albums, like Recycling, Baby Animals, Short A 4-letter, Rocks and Minerals, and Biomes.

My favorite feature is that you can create your own albums with photos you upload using the myOsmo website. You can attach multiple words to the photos and indicate the difficulty level for each word. After downloading your custom album into the Osmo Words app, you can play games with your new album. Read more about MyOsmo.

You do need to be logged in with an account that is attached to an email address to make new albums on myOsmo. This is important because I think it would be great for students to make their own albums for vocabulary words, but they’ll need an account to do that. The other thing to know is that the images you upload must be a certain size, otherwise they are rejected.

The Osmo kit is $79.95 or you can pick one up from an Apple retail store. The kit includes the base, reflector, tangrams, and letter tiles. The Osmo apps are free downloads, but they only work with the Osmo kit.

I like that Osmo expands gameplay beyond the screen to encourage social play. But if you don’t have Osmo, there are similar free iPad apps that keep gameplay all within the screen, including:


If you like the idea of iPad interacting with physical objects, you might be interested in these games and toys:


Amazon links above are affiliate links. You can help support Learning in Hand by making purchases through those links.