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There are so many new ways to teach your kids to code! Today we are going to be reviewing the super cool iPad accessory, Osmo, and the add-on set called Osmo Coding Jam. Osmo is one of my favorite iPad accessories. Osmo turns your iPad into a hands-on learning environment that requires kids to actively participate in their play. I love that my kids are super engaged when they play with Osmo, and not just staring blankly at a screen.
Learning to code is becoming more and more important in our technology-driven world. Read more about the benefits of coding to understand why we believe coding is an important skill all children should develop. Kids can learn to code as early as kindergarten! Coding starts with learning simple concepts that we use every day when we understand and solve problems. Check out our article on the 5 basic coding concepts 5-year-olds can understand to learn more about the basics of coding.
What is OSMO?
Osmo is an accessory that is compatible with iPad devices. It essentially adds a mirror on top of your iPad camera to allow the device to detect objects in front of the iPad. Osmo comes with a base and mirror attachment – of note, you can NOT have a case on your iPad when you use Osmo. Osmo works with all iPads with the exception of the 12” iPad Pro and the original iPad (if you have one that old). It’s compatible with iOS 7.0 and later.
Osmo comes with a variety of games right out of the box including tangrams, numbers, masterpiece, Newton, and words. All of these games promote creative thinking and get kids interacting with their iPad in a way that’s much more interactive than a typical iPad game. My son particularly loved tangrams – he loves puzzles and problem solving using visual-spatial skills.
What is OSMO Coding Jam?
Osmo Coding Jam is an additional set that you can purchase for your Osmo set. Osmo coding jam uses colorful coding blocks to create music while teaching your kids the basics of coding. To play, kids will place a series of blocks and dials in front of their tablet and construct their own compositions. The blocks are magnetic making it easy for kids to fit their blocks together and create an algorithm.
Osmo Coding Jam has two game modes: practice mode and studio mode. In practice mode, kids are given small challenges that will help them to understand how to create with their magnetic coding blocks. In studio mode, kids will have an open-ended opportunity to compose and create music.
What Coding Concepts Does it Teach?
Coding Jam emphasizes several important coding concepts including sequencing, algorithms, and loops. Kids will use the coding blocks to get their characters to perform commands. Coding jam has 3 different verb commands: hand, walk and jump. Each of these commands will tell the musical character to play a different musical object.
Kids will first learn to sequence by putting these commands in an order to create their composition. By changing the order of the verb commands, your kids will note the different musical compositions they can create. A sequence of verb commands is an algorithm, a set of instructions for the computer to perform.
Coding jam also has some additional blocks that will help to teach more advanced features. One feature is the loop command. When the loop command is applied, the algorithm will repeat. Loops are common in programming languages and help to make our code more efficient. In Coding Jam, you can add a quantifier (yellow number piece), to tell Osmo how many times to loop the sequence.
What Do You Need?
In order to play with this toy, you will need a few things. Coding Jam is not available for Android, so you will need an iPad in order to play.
Where to purchase Osmo Coding Jam:
OSMO coding jam is available for sale at a variety of retailers. Check out pricing at the following retailers:
How to Set Up Osmo Coding Jam?
In order to get going with Osmo Coding Jam, you will first need to set up your Osmo base and camera/mirror attachment. This took us literally 15 seconds to complete. One thing that I love about Osmo is how simple and intuitive it’s program is.
Once your base is set up you will need to download the coding jam app from the app store. Then you will need all of the magnetic coding pieces from the coding jam set to get started playing coding jam.
This was our first time playing with Osmo and playing with Coding Jam. I am absolutely AMAZED at how quickly my son figured this program out. I was still stuck looking through the instructions and he had already started completing levels in practice mode. The game is very intuitive, and even though my son can’t read, he was able to follow the on-screen visual instructions with ease.
My son played this game for an entire hour the first time we tried it. He’s not one for sustained attention, so this was definitely a game that had peaked his interest! I liked that he was thinking and challenged throughout the whole game, and wasn’t just watching the screen.
In terms of coding knowledge, Osmo is a great starter game, to get kids thinking about coding concepts. Although it does teach some important basic concepts like loops and sequences, I would still consider it a game that teaches pre-coding skills. Once kids have enjoyed Osmo coding jam, a program like Scratch Jr would be a way to next level their skills.
In this ever-changing technological world, knowing basic programming can help you go that extra mile. This toy is one of those tools that will help them get there, and I would recommend it to any parent looking to give their child a head start.
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Kate is mom of two rambunctious boys and a self-proclaimed super nerd. With a background in neuroscience, she is passionate about sharing her love of all things STEM with her kids. She loves to find creative ways to teach kids computer science and geek out about coding and math. She has authored several books on coding for kids which can be found at Hachette UK.