Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2015
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Tangram for Osmo

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Fun hybrid puzzles with excellent classroom supports

Subjects & skills
  • Critical Thinking

  • Math
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
Common Sense says (See details)
Teachers say (3 Reviews)

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Pros: Plenty of puzzles and levels of difficulty to engage and challenge students.

Cons: Device has to be removed from its protective cover to be placed in base, so teachers will need to have procedures in place to handle that.

Bottom Line: Classic puzzler combines toys with digital play to engage and teach all ages.

Teachers can find lesson plans and ideas for incorporating Osmo into their curricula online through their myOsmo accounts. There's also a forum for discussing classroom implementation and a way to share your own lessons with the Osmo community. Teachers can use Tangrams for Osmo as a puzzle activity in a discovery or STEM station or center, or they can use it to teach shapes, colors, and how shapes can be combined and dissected.

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Tangram for Osmo is a free download that accompanies the basic gaming system from Osmo. The system, which includes two other apps and toys, retails for $79.99. It comes with a base and a reflector attachment that clips over the iPad's camera. The base fits any iPad, requiring a slightly different configuration for the iPad Air and Mini. Tangram for Osmo includes the seven colorful tangram shapes, which kids use to form the designs shown on the iPad. The camera reflector allows the device to see what kids are doing with the toys. Teachers can set up individual profiles for each student in a class.

Students choose from Easy, Medium, or Hard levels. Harder levels can be unlocked after four Hard puzzles have been completed. Kids arrange the seven shapes in front of the game system to match the image on the device. As kids place a piece correctly, it shows up in color on the screen. Hints are available. Pictures of completed puzzles decorate the map, making a story of the play journey. Some puzzles free captive characters. Kids earn achievements as they complete different missions.

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Classic puzzle play enters the digital age with this smart and impressive hybrid toy. Young kids can play and learn the most with these tangrams, but there's no age limit on the challenging fun. Students can choose to jump around challenge levels until they find the one that's just right for them, and with hundreds of puzzles, there's plenty to engage them. The way the screen plays out like a story (with the solved puzzles taking their place along the path) adds some extra fun, and kids who want to add some self-driven competition can work to unlock the achievements. The teacher supports are top-notch, with an educator community, lessons plans, and student profiles.

Really, the whole Osmo system is impressive, from the neat magnetic packaging to the sensitive, responsive technology; this is a game system that will bring fun and learning without taking up lots of space. Keep in mind that any iPad you use with Osmo will have to be removed from its cover, so teachers may want to have procedures in place to handle that.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Since hybrid toys are still novel, kids will be especially engaged in exploring this new way to play. Combining the digital play with actual toys engages kids fully.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Kids can choose their challenge level. Hints are available, but kids have to pay points to view them, which motivates them to try. No time limits or penalties: The puzzle is solved when all pieces are in place.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Lesson plans and an educator forum are available online. Teachers can set up profiles for an entire class of students through their myOsmo accounts.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 3 reviews) (3 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Karen O. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Tangible learning with an iPad!

The interactivity between the tangible pieces and iPad creates a wonderful use of the iPad. The guidance in the "introduction" provides a great tool to learn tangrams as it breaks down the idea of tangrams to the simplest parts.

One suggestion would be to have a more sensitive camera as there are times where the pieces are in close proximity to the front of the iPad and the pieces are accurately placed, but the camera does not pick up on the correct placement.

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