Osmo Pizza Co.Spring 2017 Video Games
Osmo, a company which has proven to be an innovative developer of accessible coding education for children, has created a virtual pizza shop to teach children about addition, subtraction, and even fractions. The product has two basic components: the manipulatives kit and the app/game; the Osmo Base set is required, but not included in this package. The 89-piece kit contains a two-sided pizza/serving plate, 48 pizza toppings (8 each of pepperoni, pineapple ,green peppers, mushrooms, olives, and pineapples), 20 bills in four denominations ($1, $2, $5, and $10), and 20 coins in four denominations (1, 2, 5, and 10 cents). The mobile app is a manipulative-driven, customizable virtual pizza shop. Customers enter the shop and images of their desired pizzas appear in speech bubbles. Players then physically create the pizza, slide it into the oven, and move on to the next customer while it cooks. Once the pizza is cooked and the customer has completed the meal, the app guides players to a new page where payment and appropriate change are transacted. The customer goes on his (hopefully) happy way and children navigate back to the pizza kitchen tend to the next customer.
In addition to teaching children addition and subtraction by accepting payment and making change for customers, the app also teaches children fractions. As levels and difficulty progresses, customers begin to order only 1/2 pepperoni or 3/4 olives and the children have to be able to translate that fraction into a physical representation. This helps to link the number symbol to a real-life, tangible representation, which helps solidify children's understanding of the concepts. The virtual pizza studio also demonstrates how profits and expenses work by showing children what they earned versus what they spent on expenses as well as investments, as they are encouraged to decorate and upgrade their pizza shop, but also to put certain goal amounts in the bank.
The game also helps to teach children about nonverbal communication and aids in their ability to read emotions based on facial expressions. As children create pizzas for their customers, the customers react in real-time. A "happy" or "excited" expression indicates the players are creating what the customer wants while a "sad" or "disappointed" expression encourages children to change accordingly.
The game requires no reading; everything is communicated via visuals and some non-verbal sounds. The customers "speak," but not in a true language, which can be a bit irritating at times, but a relatively small price to pay for such a robust and delightful educational game. The Osmo Pizza Co. immerses children in basic mathematics skills blended with hours of imaginative and cooperative play.