Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ooka Island Review


Ooka Island is an early reading program for prescholers through 2nd grade. It consists of a downloadable program for your computer and an online subscription.

Through the game, your child plays with a customizable online character who navigates through various missions. There are training lessons to help your child understand the mission and then guided activities based on various educational components of phonics and reading. If your child struggles with a level, the program will continue to work with them on the same level but present the information in a different way to help them understand it. Once your child succeeds through the levels then free play is their reward and they get to play whatever games they want for a limited time before returning to the guided learning activities again.

There are 85 books and accompanying activities for reading comprehension.

We don't let the children use the computer much at all so both of my children were super excited when I told them they could play a game on the computer. I didn't tell them it was educational!

Rachel is 3 years old. She knows her ABC's in order but is still working on letter recognition. She did well through the first exercise on letter sounds. She loved this game most of all because your character rides in a cart through a mine shaft. Rachel called the cart a train and loved saying "Whoo! Whoo!" as she pretended to blow a whistle for her character.


There is a game where the character goes rock climbing up alphabet mountain and has to step on the letters of the alphabet in sequence. Rachel was able to tell me the next letter but she needed a little help knowing which letter to select.


This game allows the child to interact with it through the use of a mouse. I was surprised how well Rachel's hand was at controlling the mouse around the screen and clicking on what she wanted. I love that she is exposed to using a computer at such a young age, especially with fun educational programs like this.


After alphabet mountain, there was a fun skateboard game and she was so excited when her character got a celebration at the end of game.


On Ooka Island, your character is a hero on a mission - My son loves anything having to do with heroes and missions! But he also thought that the characters in the game were really cute.


Nicholas is seven years old and a good reader. He thought Ooka Island was a fun game. Actually, he asks to play it every day. Although he is a good reader, there were still some challenging parts to the game as he had to really think about the phonetic components of the words. I plan to use this with him as a supplement to reading and a review of some basic phonics. However, I also think this might be helpful for him in spelling which he struggles with a little.


He also loves that the program uses voice recognition in some activities to match sounds with letters. He thought that was really cool!

Pros:

~ I like that this one program covers all of the early years in reading and phonics. I know it will be something that continues to grow with Rachel as she continues to learn in these areas.
~ The program uses an innovative 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.
~ My children love the fun characters and the games were easy for my 3 year old to play with the mouse. It made learning fun for them. I was impressed with the graphics and songs as well.
~ It is a good way to review phonics for students who already understand the basics.
~ The voice recognition part of the games is unique to other educational games we have tried.
~ You can purchase actual hard copy versions of the books for your child to read on their own offline. I love this because we do so much reading in their rooms as we are snuggling up before bedtime.

Cons:

~ It took a little while to download the program since it was over a 2 GB file. Now for me, I'd say it was maybe a 20 minute download. In the world of a 3 year old, it was just taking FOREVER! But once it was downloaded, the installation went fine.
~ When we were starting the program for the first time, we accidentally skipped through the section where you can customize the character to look like yourself so we ended up with a boy with black hair which doesn't look anything like our kids. It doesn't affect the game at all but my kids would like to be able to change the way the character looks and I haven't found a way to go back and fix this.
~ We have a big computer monitor and I couldn't figure out how to maximize the program to full screen. I opened up a word program and let it run behind the game just to give a white background instead of our distractingly busy desktop wallpaper. It would be nice to be able to expand the program to full screen though.

Pricing

Ooka Island is only available for purchase on the Ooka Island website. Although you do download software to your computer, the game is run through an online subscription. There is pricing for 1 child, family of 4 children, and there are also school packages available.


Be sure to take advantage of a special promotion running right now! Just enter LAUNCHSPECIAL30 at checkout for 30% off!


You can also purchase the hard copy books. Here's a good sampling of the books.

And you can download some of their cute songs right HERE for free so your children can listen to them anytime.

Check out what other TOS Crew members had to say about Ooka Island by clicking HERE.

I was given a complimentary 6 month subscription to Ooka Island for the purpose of this review. I did not receive any other compensation and the opinions stated here are entirely my own.

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