Make learning fun and hands-on with the Little Genius Starter Kit from Osmo. Inside the kit, you get everything you need to access interactive and educational app content and bring it to life through physical playing pieces. Open up the box to find a play mat, an Osmo base for your iPad, 38 silicone sticks and rings, 19 costume pieces, and stackable storage containers for the pieces. You'll also have access to four game apps narrated by Mo the Monster that guide preschoolers with pre-reading, storytelling, and fine motor skill development.
In the ABCs game, kids use the colorful rings and sticks to build letters and watch those letters come to life within the app. They'll be introduced to a word that starts with the letter they build, and then kids get to create a picture of that word using the sticks and rings. There are more than 300 words to learn. This app helps kids with letter recognition, vocabulary, construction, and phonics.
Squiggle Magic is all about kids using the sticks and rings to create whatever they can imagine, and then watching those creations come to life on the screen. They might get to see their happy face turn into a kitty cat or their robot face bouncing around a classroom setting. There's no right or wrong way to play. Whatever kids put down on the playmat will appear in the app. This activity fosters creative thinking and pre-drawing skills, as well as being easy for little hands to pick up and manipulate.
Costume Party lets kids experiment with clothes and colors to design an outfit for the character. Depending on what physical costume pieces kids choose, the reaction of the character will be different every time. Kids can even change what the costume pieces and the character's hair and skin color look like within the app.
And the last game is Stories. In this game, kids mix and match the costume pieces to help solve problems and navigate their character through the story. The character might need a guitar to wake up a bear or help a bird get rid of his hiccups. This gets kids using creative and critical thinking skills, as well as problem-solving skills.
The Little Genius Starter Kit merges the manipulatives of education pioneers Friedrich Froebel and Maria Montessori with a digital element for hands-on play that speaks to today's connected kids. All four of the games guide kids through different ways to play with the same pieces, giving kids the opportunity to play and learn a different way each time. And through the play, kids are developing their fine motor skills. Little kids will also think it's really cool to see what they've built or made with the pieces show up in the app and come to life.
The Little Genius Starter Kit is for ages 3 to 5.
If you already own an Osmo base, you can purchase the Starter Kit without one for $79.
Some of the prompts within the Costume Party game were a little difficult to decipher. Once you're familiar with what accessories are on all the pieces, it'll get easier.
At the time of this review, the product was only available for the iPad. It is now available for the Amazon Fire Tablet, too.
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