Building social connections with Osmo: How one first grade teacher goes beyond math, reading, and coding to foster student growth
When students in Alyssa Ramjan’s first-grade class in Sydney, Australia finish an assignment to the best of their ability, it’s not just time to fidget quietly at their desk while they wait for their classmates.
Instead, they’re given a variety of options for “fast finishers” like books, toys or puzzles. But by far, the most popular item? Osmo, Alyssa said.
“In fact, Osmo is so beloved we have the much-needed rule that only two students at a time are allowed on an iPad playing Osmo (there are 3 iPads in our room),” she said. “Before I put this rule in place I noticed that lots of students were crowding around the iPads watching the fun that was unfolding!
“They all wanted to have their say and participate in the game which led to absolute chaos. Now everybody knows that if two children are using an iPad to play Osmo they must find a different fast finisher activity to use.”
Alyssa was first introduced to Osmo through another teacher’s Instagram giveaway. It quickly became a successful tool in her classroom and she added a Genius Starter Kit, Pizza Co., Detective Agency and Osmo Coding Starter Kit to her collection. The games have been helpful not only for providing extra practice for reading, math and coding but also for social skills.
“I taught a student who was struggling socially in the classroom and playground,” she said. “He found it quite difficult to interact with others and work collaboratively but Osmo really helped his confidence to grow.
“Whenever he was playing an Osmo game, he would open up and communicate clearly with the other student he was playing with. It was such a great tool to help him form those early friendships and now he has plenty of friends to play with!”
Alyssa, now in her fourth year, was inspired to become a teacher, she said, by the many kind teachers she had as a student. She points in particular to her one own Year One (what we refer to in America as first grade) teacher who “struck a major chord” with her.
“She was incredibly gentle and understanding towards all students and she was really the one who inspired me to become a teacher myself,” she said. “Very much a Miss Honey kind of figure! There are lots of things I do in my own classroom that I have borrowed from her.
“My favorite thing about teaching is seeing the immense growth that kids in the younger grades make. There is nothing more magical than witnessing the ‘aha!’ moment – where whatever you are teaching finally clicks with a student and they completely understand. I really love seeing this in reading in particular. It is so amazing to work with a student at the beginning of the year who may be struggling to read or cannot read at all, and by the end of the year they are reading little books all by themselves!”
Follow Alyssa on Instagram at primarilyalyssa.