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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ooka Island: A Review

For the past month Eden has been battling Fliggs (FLying Pigs), rescuing Elves, collecting mist, wandering through sound caves, hanging out in a Popcorn Library, playing in a Pencil Playground, skating down an Alphabet Mountain, and looking for books in a submarine.

     Sounds like fun?
                     Let me introduce you to Ooka Island!

We were given a copy of this downloadable online adventure to review but before I tell you what I think of it here is some information found on their website which will tell you a little about it:

Ooka Island is an online adventure based on a dynamic, individualized, and adaptive reading curriculum that will keep children captivated and develop their literacy skills along the way.
The Ooka Island Adventure starts with 20 minutes of guided play where the player is guided through a customized learning path through the 7 activities on Ooka Island. After 20 minutes of guided play the player unlocks the next book on the Book Path, reads the book in the Popcorn Library and completes the comprehension and vocabulary activities. The player is then rewarded with 8 minutes of free play where the player can play in any unlocked activity on the Island, purchase items in the Mist Mart, or play with their Ooka Elf friends in the Pencil Playground.
The Ooka Island Adventure is embedded with an innovative learning algorithm that adapts game play according to each child’s needs. If a child struggles with any skill being taught, they are rerouted to an activity where that same skill is presented in a different way. This pattern is repeated until the child has mastered the particular skill.
The Ooka Island Adventure is accessed online but not through a web browser, so players are never directed outside of the game to other websites or to outside content.

After being Ooka Island Adventurers for a month now, I can tell you that we love it.   It is designed for Pre-K to Grade 2 but since Eli (grade 1) is reading quite fluently I decided to use the program for Eden (pre-K) who wasn't reading but was becoming more interested in reading.  She knew all her letters and the sounds and was getting the concept of putting letter sounds together.  So Ooka Island came at the perfect time. From the first day, entering the "Cave of Sounds" she was excited.  I think she was thrilled to have a program that was hers (the boys have had the chance to review a couple of programs that have been above her level).  After I sat with her for a few days, she was able to maneuver through the program quite well on her own.  Her favourite part is getting to the Popcorn Library and having the book read to her.  She likes to log on and go straight to the library to read the books that have already been unlocked.  After a month she has unlocked 16 books and there are 85 in total so we have plenty more Ooka Island ahead of us.  She also,  in true girl fashion, loves shopping in the Mist Mart for new clothes, shoes and accessories for her avatar.

I like that the program moves at her pace, and if she is struggling with a skill, it repeats (without it feeling repetitive)  it until she gets it.   It has built her confidence in reading and she is now trying to read any book she picks up (including mine:).   I like that she doesn't always have to do the full 20 minutes as the program will pick up where she left off.  I am impressed with the thought and planning that has obviously gone into the development of this program.  We had a few installation issues and compatibility issues (it's a newly released program) but the customer service representative I dealt with was always efficient and knowledgeable.

Would I recommend the program?   Yes, if you have an emerging or early reader who loves technology,  give it a try.  There are several pricing options available and they are even offering a 30% discount to celebrate their launch so now is a great time to explore the island.



I participated in this review as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Team.   Click here to see what my crewmates  are saying about Ooka Island.

Disclaimer:  As a TOS Reviewer I was given a free 6 month subscription in exchange for my honest (positive or otherwise) opinion of the product.


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