Teach Through Apps: Osmo

Teach Through Apps: Osmo

Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary, Upper Elementary

Description: Osmo  is a set of materials that can be used with the iPad. It creates unique opportunities for play for learners with autism who are highly motivated by the iPad. Osmo includes a base to set your iPad (or other iDevice) in and a reflector to put over the camera.  It includes three games: Tangram, Words, and Newton. Tangram is your typical set of tangram shapes, but uses the iPad to create an experience in which learners can work independently or together to recreate the shapes shown on the screen. Words is akin to hangman, and can be played independently, with others as part of team, or against a friend. It includes a blue set of letters and a red set of letters that interact with the iPad. Newton is a game unlike any other iPad game I’ve seen that allows you to draw shapes or place objects in front of the iPad screen in order to make on-screen balls go into targeted zones.

Skills & Modifications: There are a broad range of skills you can practice with the apps included with Osmo. I have not modified the games yet, instead choosing the games and settings that best fit the needs of my current student.

Scanning – For both Tangram and Words, the learner must scan through the items to select the correct one to complete the task. For Words, there are so many letters, that I sometimes do modify the game by decreasing the field of tiles available to the learner.

Block Imitation – Tangram is fantastic for continuing word on block imitation. One of the things I love about Tangram is that if a learner replays a level it becomes more difficult (as shown in the images below.) Each time a learner completes a level, additional levels become available. For one of my learners with autism, Tangram is now one of his choices for independent play with his activity schedule. It’s wondeful to have an additional option for functional play that he finds motivating.



Orientation/Spatial Reasoning – This is another skill that can be practiced with Tangram in the same way that it can be practiced with regular tangrams. The difference here is that for learners who are not motivated by visual performance activities, but are motivated by the iPad, this may be a good way to get them interested in practicing these skills.

Spelling – While words does not require the learner to spell the word, it is still valuable practice with spelling. As in the game of hangman, in Words, if the learner places a letter in front of the screen that does appear in the word.


Two player Words game – one player plays red letters while the other plays blue letters. Points are tallied at the end of the round.

Peer Play/Teamwork – Because Osmo is based on using tangible materials in conjunction with the iPad, there are a wide variety of opportunities for peer interaction with each of the apps.

Accepting Mistakes – I like the Osmo apps for working on accepting mistakes because there is an immediate opportunity to correct any mistakes.

Pros: Many learners with autism (like most children) enjoy playing with the iPad. Osmo provides opportunity for encouraging social interaction and functional play.

Cons: You have to remove the iPad from its case in order to play Osmo. This may make it a poor choice for learners who throw or drop iPads. The cost is also prohibitive.

Cost: $79.99 You should invest in this app if: you are a teacher who is looking for functional iPad activities for learners with autism or you are seeking ways to creat social opportunities for your learner who loves the iPad.

ABLLS: A10, B12, G4, K13, K15

VB-MAPP: Tact 15, VP-MTS 13

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