Category Archives: Technology

Osmo for iPad: Our kind of travel learning game

Oslo Words Numbers Tangrams

So, while the boys were working on set, the parents were in the holding area hanging out and one of the Moms I met pulled out Osmo and I got a great demo as I watched she and her daughter play the Word Game (thanks again, Tanis).

The minute I saw it in action, I knew my tech-loving guys would love interacting with the technology using the tiles that come with the set. Originally, I thought of our Kindergartner, but it’s turned out to be fun from age 5 on up!

Kindergartner playing on Osmo

How it works:  A reflector mirror attachment that comes with each set uses the camera on your iPad to “see” the tiles thru color recognition. When you plop a tile down in the viewing area, Osmo identifies the shape, letter, or number.

The tiles come organized each in their own box with easy to open and close magnetic closures. And this Mom loves the added thought to put a magnet under the paper layer of each cover so that the set stays together. (Very smart Osmo product developers!) The base fits an iPad or iPad Mini.

Osmo Learning Game

Here’s a quick one minute video to give you a demo of our Kindergartner in action using Numbers, Words, and Tangram.

This is perfect to take with us on the road in our RV! The boxes are fairly small and light weight. Plus, since each of our kids have their own unique profile (up to six profiles can be assigned), it can be used K-12 and quickly adapt to their level of learning. If you’re curious how it works for older kids, I’ll be posting more examples of the olders using Osmo soon. In the meantime, if you want to learn more, you can visit their Web site here.

OSMO Genius Set

click to learn more >

Technology and Travel

I am so thrilled with my new set up!

I’ve been using the built-in touch key pad on my mini iPad to write posts and I asked my husband if there was a better way of doing things. We first got a Zagg small external keypad 50% off at Best Buy (it was originally $110). It was the same size of my mini iPad and my fingers felt so crowded on the keypad that I could barely type without making mistakes.  So that item got returned and I opted for the Apple wireless keyboard at Best Buy for $69 (but you can purchase online here). [The keyboard is pictured below with a rose my son picked from our yard.]

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Look how thin and light it is! I love it! It pairs to my mini iPad automatically after setting up once thru my mini iPad’s bluetooth settings.  All you have to do is turn it on (it’s “on” switch is that round circle on the end that you see there below).

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The upside to the keyboard is not only a lighter weight keyboard that is larger to type on, or the fact that there are no cords to deal with, but the one draw back is no place on it to attach a stand (Apple Product Planners, take note of this needing an accessory option.)  My husband and I looked at doing a Steelie Ball on the dash, but we were concerned at how the airbag, if deployed, would affect the safety of whoever (namely me) was sitting in the front passenger seat.

While doing some online research, my husband found this great solution — a portable media-friendly work desk by LapGear that has a slot to fit either a mini iPad or a regular size iPad along with a keyboard  — it’s at the perfect angle to view, too! I love how it quickly can drop into the groove and be removed with ease. The keyboard I had before was sort of a tight fit to the device so the keyboard had o live with the device. This method, I can easily remove and use the iPad only if I need to without have to pull anything apart. It’s awesome. Underneath the work desk it has a squishy elongated beanbag that makes it comfortable to rest on your legs. It also has a non-slip felt rectangle to the right that you can use to put an iPhone if you desire.  I thought the wrist pads would get in the way, but they actually make typing more comfortable.

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All in all, I’m really pleased with my new set-up. It was originally $27, but the grey version (pictured above) was on sale — Amazon had a clip-to-click offer that gave an additional 10% off plus we had free ship because we have Amazon Prime. This set-up will help me connect with friends and family from the road by typing emails or FB posts faster as well as aid my in writing for the blog.

Oh! And managing power for recharging… We have a dual USB power cord that powers two devices at a time that plugs into the available 12-volt outlet. It easily reaches my mini i-Pad. My keyboard has a built-in battery, so no need to change right now. After using the keyboard for awhile, I’ll be sure to circle back and offer an update.

For Wi-Fi, we connect the mini iPad to either of our iPhones thru the Personal Hotspot feature. If you’ve never used this feature, you go into your settings on your iPhone… (the silver icon in the center of my Utilities folder that you see in the image below.)

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Next, select “Personal Hotspot” (the fifth option on your settings window if you are operating 8.1.2 OS)

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Next, if the selector tab is not green (as shown below) slide it to the right to turn on the Personal Hotspot. Next, you will want to set a Wi-Fi Password. DO NOT use “password” as your password. Get creative — the longer the better along with numbers and characters plus capitalized letters all mixed in is best. Something like this (but don’t do this one) “$Upercal1fragiliSticxpedaliouc0us”. You get the ‘gist.

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To join your iPhone’s Personal Hotspot, all you have to do is go to your mini iPad’s Wi-Fi and refresh if needed until you see the name of your phone pop up in your Wi-Fi options. Select, enter the password you set as your Personal Hotspot password (you should only have to do this once and it will remember automatically thereafter) and you’re online and ready to access the Internet.

If you have a laptop that needs to be powered or other iPhones in the car (maybe you have a child that has a device as well), we like this ENERGIZER 500-watt power inverter that plugs into our rear 12-volt charging outlet. (I’ll take a photo of it and update this page.)  It does a great job powering all our devices keeping the kids occupied on long stretches of driving.

The last thing to consider is security. You never want to leave a device in a car because of a) possible theft and b) extreme heat during summer months especially can damage your device. Make it a habit with your kids to take personal responsibility for their device and to secure it on their person at all times.

Do you have a set-up that works well for you? Feel free to share any tips in the comments below that you’ve learned along the way!