Coding blocks being assembled by hand in front of the iPad

Osmo Coding Kit – Is It Worth The Money?

The Osmo Coding Kit is a gaming system designed for children between the ages of 5 to 12 to use with the iPad. Another addition to the line of products which brings physical and digital together, it is comprised of 3 games – Coding, Masterpiece and Newton. Each of these is designed to help children develop their understanding of programming, drawing and physics.

The Osmo Coding Kit involves physical blocks, which children place in code combinations to control character actions on a screen. Like many other games, the blocks, which act like the inputs, are accessible but the actual output is in visual form on the iPad screen. This differs from other products like Cubelets.

What Is In The Osmo Coding Kit?

Each kit includes a white iPad stand and a red reflector for the iPad camera.  The reflector enables the iPad to read the environment which has been assembled in front of it. The Osmo Starter Kit includes two sets of game pieces in the form of 2 complete alphabet sets and tangram pieces. The Masterpiece and Newton games don’t require any pieces for play. It’s worthy to note that the apps are free to download but obviously you won’t be able to play them without the physical game system.




Will It Work On Any iPad?

For the most part yes. Almost all versions are supported. This includes iPad 2, iPad (3rd Generation), iPad (4th Generation), iPad Mini, iPad Mini 2, iPad Mini 3, iPad Mini 4, iPad Air, iPad Air 2 and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Osmo is not compatible with the 12.9 incluch Pro although this is being looked at, according to the developers. Also remember that that you will need to remove any protective casing around your tablet in order to be able to slot it into the stand.

Educational Value?

Yes, I believe it does have a place in education. The various games in the starter pack have many applications for learning. Coding games foster logic and problem-solving, while the tangram games help the player to hone their spatial reasoning skills. The Newton game also helps with creative problem-solving whereas Masterpiece does a great job of encouraging drawing and creative confidence.

Is It Worth The Money

Honestly, and it pains me to say this – no….. 5 years ago perhaps but I just don’t see anything that makes it stand out from the crowd in 2017. At times we have noted that the camera has difficulty at times picking up the location of the pieces in front of it. There were constant notifications to move the pieces into the it’s line of sight to continue with play.

Secondly, the word game uses capital letters. As any parent of young kids knows, capitals are introduced to children’s reading vocabulary gradually after initial lower-case letters have been practiced. This really is one that got to me. We are at the ‘learning to read’ stage in our house and visual recognition of capitals can take some time to master. Their omission in the Osmo is unfortunate. Also, you will see that the product is vastly overpriced if you live in my part of the world (Ireland) when compared with the US sales price . Unfortunately, it just doesn’t do it for me in terms of value for money. I’d love to hear your opinions on this. Let me know your thoughts! Dan




10 comments

  1. That’s a very interesting conclusion to your review Dan. Don’t buy it. I hope that will save a lot of parents out there some money. How would you know your child is interested in this stuff anyway. I bought our granddaughters LeapFrog Pads a few years ago and they just love them for games and learning.
    However, once you buy the hardware you find out pretty quickly that the software gets expensive.
    Enjoyed your review and hope others can avoid the disappointment through this review. Well done, Peter

    1. Hi Peter, look I’m sure this might possibly be more useful for older kids but it just doesn’t wash with me. I also don’t know why there is such a price differential – perhaps it’s to do with shipping and import duty. My god daughter has one and she enjoyed playing with it for a few days last Christmas but she is 13. Personally I don’t think it is great for younger kids. Thanks for stopping by and I appreciate your kind words.

  2. Dan, Wow. At first I was thinking “this sounds like something I wish I would have had when my child was young”. Not so fast! Amazing how marketing can spin things. Doesn’t sound like they really put the child learning aspect front and center (capital letters). Appreciate your honest review of the Osmo Coding Kit.

    KayL

    1. Hi Kay,
      There are great educational opportunities but the game just doesn’t fit with a younger age in my opinion. As I mentioned earlier, a pre-teen may enjoy this as long as they haven’t already been exposed to other coding apps out there. It’s not nice to say I don’t like a product because I cherish what coding and programming has done for me professionally but also with my relationship with my kids. Sometimes it just has to be said….

  3. Hi Dan,
    Very interesting and frank review on the osmo coding kit.
    Not having children of my own I’ve missed out on the whole learn coding thing, I would like to consider myself computer literate in so much as I can push the right buttons but what actually goes on behind the screen I’ve no idea.
    I like what you say about the educational benefits to older children, this kit does have a market but obviously the company have gone about it all wrong !
    Good to see a frank and unbiased review,
    Thanks,

    Paul

  4. Hey Dan,

    I am really curious, what product would recommend instead of Osmo? I mean, I had no idea that there is some game for kids which learns them code (so even this one seem nice to me). I am a programmer and know how difficult was for my mates at high school to understand even the basics of programming. And we are talking about guys and girls 17-19 years old. To me it sounds absolutely awesome that we can support learning such skills when brain is developing.

    1. Hey David,
      There are so many toys and games out there for various age ranges. I’m really interested in the Project Bloks project by Google at the moment. This is still in conceptual beta stages so could be a while before we see it on the shelves.

      If you were looking for something that cements programming concepts for kids, I’d look at the various graphical block-based programming languages such as Scratch, Blockly or Arduino. A number of Robotics for Kids products utilise Arduino as a programming language for their robots. Actually seeing the output of your code blocks manifested in physical form is a great way for learning.

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