Osmo Words

Versatile word game challenges across content areas and abilities

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 6 reviews

Privacy rating

Expert evaluation by Common Sense



Subjects & Skills

Critical Thinking, English Language Arts

Price: Free, Paid
Platforms: iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Pros: Very easy to upload new word packs shared by others or to create custom lists.

Cons: Letter recognition glitches occasionally if students move too quickly.

Bottom Line: Fun game-like way to review spelling or content vocabulary.

Teachers can register with Osmo to set up multiple player accounts on a device, download more word lists or create their own, and connect with other educators through the forums to share lesson plans and ideas. Several lesson plans are available on the website, from CVC word patterns to geography. Teachers can have students work alone to review a specific word list or set kids up in small groups to work together to review a word list. For an extension, students could create their own word lists, choosing words, finding images to represent them, and creating a game for their classmates to play.

Osmo Words is a letter-recognition app that accompanies a hands-on gaming system from Osmo. The system can be purchased by component, starting at $29 per piece or as a kit, with a variety of options starting at $99. It comes with a base and a reflector attachment that clips over the iPad's camera. The base fits any iPad, only requiring a slightly different configuration for the iPad Air and Mini, and another base is available for the iPhone. The device will have to be removed from its cover, so teachers may want to help younger kids with the setup. Osmo Words also includes two sets of alphabet cards, one in red and one in blue, with uppercase letters on one side and lowercase on the other. The camera reflector allows the device to see what kids are doing with the letters.

Students play alone, competitively, or cooperatively, finding the missing letters for the word displayed in a picture. Choose from several themes of words, download other word packs for free by connecting to the Osmo website, or create your own word packs. Difficulty adjusts based on performance but can be manually adjusted for 12 levels ranging from easy (short words missing only one letter) to very hard (10-letter words with no letters to start). Each round lasts until a player reaches 100 points.

Osmo Words turns your tablet into an old-school wordplay board game. But here, the digital element ramps up fun and expands learning; the range of difficulty means every student can be challenged, and the variety of word packs -- and the option to add your own -- makes it really versatile. Library offerings range from sight words to U.S. presidents to 8th-grade geometry. What's more, Osmo's merging of digital and physical play does a great job of fostering social, collaborative learning. Gameplay might not necessarily boost literacy skills, but there's a lot of potential for kids to learn through playing with peers or with parents.

Hints can be enabled in the settings, which will fill in a letter automatically after a minute with no activity, or they can be turned off. The images are striking, high-quality, real-world photos. Keep in mind that competitors have to play at the same challenge level because they aren't taking turns. They'll both see the same word at the same time and race to see who can fill in the missing letters the fastest. 

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

Game-style play, either competitive or cooperative, will draw kids in. Photo graphics are dazzling.


Challenge adjusts as kids play and can be manually adjusted to 12 levels, from easy to very hard. The combination of digital and physical play enables great social, collaborative learning.


Unlimited potential for extending learning by the creation of custom word packs. Dozens of themed packs are easily available in-app. Even more resources are available on the website.

Common Sense reviewer
Amanda Bindel
Amanda Bindel Teacher

Community Rating

Osmo Words Play was a great app for beginning readers working on phonics. I loved the interactive feature where kids can slide their letters into the camera's view. However, I did not see an option for selecting a level of difficulty.

Overall, this product as a teaching tool is average compared to other language tools. I like that a child could use hands on material with the technology, however, it appeared limited in expanding kids thinking. I would use this as a supplemental extension to a spelling or phonics lesson.

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Privacy Rating

Data Safety How safe is this product?

  • Users can interact with trusted users.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Unclear whether profile information must be shared for social interactions.

Data Rights What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Users do not retain ownership of their data.
  • Processes to access or review user data are available.

Ads & Tracking Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
  • Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
  • Personalised advertising is displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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