Thursday, April 16, 2015

Orphs of the Woodlands {Crew Review}

This is, by far, Levi's all time favorite review in the history of all reviews.

A creative company called Star Toaster (I mean, really, isn't that an awesome company name?) has created a fabulously interactive online tool called Orphs of the Woodlands that (1) gets kids reading while (2) playing an online adventure for (3) humanitarian (or mouse-atarian) aid while (4) brushing up on academic skills, character skills and life skills.

It is a home run in all aspects.

Orphs of the Woodlands can be purchased for a 60-day subscription for $19.99 for up to 3 students (WOW!).  If you need to extend your subscription, you can, for just $6.99/ month (30 days).  You will need an internet connection to use this program each time.

Getting Started:  Your student will log on to the website with their own password to access their story.  Parent accounts also have their own password, which allows you to see their progress through the 15-chapter story (over 300 online 'pages).  You can even view their work in the quizzes and 'jobs' and see their correct and incorrect answers.

After logging in the first time, students are given their mission. They become a squirrel spy -- naming themselves and indicating identifying information about their character.  Levi chose to become "Joey," an honest and diligent gray squirrel who loves the color red. Their job is find the treasure of High Tower. Along the way, you save orphan animals -- squirrels, mice, and chipmunks -- who live in the woodlands.  The 'bad guys' are the Night Creatures, who are also trying to get the treasure.

Goldstars (the currency of this land) are awarded after you finish reading each of the chapters of this adventurous story.  You earn this money by completing various "jobs."  For example, after the first chapter, you earn money by working in a print shop.  Here, your child will work through several vocabulary exercises -- using words that were highlighted in the text of the chapter they just finished.  These Goldstars can then be used to purchase food, water, medicine, etc. for the care of the Orphs that want to be with you.  The more you are able to care for your Orphs, the more Orphs will come to you.

Jobs: Each of the jobs has a teaching component prior to the quiz to earn the Goldstars.

If you successfully complete the quiz, you earn you pay in Goldstars.  These Goldstars are used to help care for the Orphs.  More Orphs will start coming to you after you care for your Orphs. Goldstars can be used to purchase land, food, water, and even an orphanage (if you have a LOT of gold stars).  Here's a snip from Levi's screen, showing some of what he's purchased and what needed to be purchased next (He finished the book, and has no option to continue earning, so he's at a standstill):

How We Used This:  
Levi had no trouble using this product -- he absolutely LOVED it, and would work through it for HOURS at a time, if I'd let him.  As a matter of fact, I had forgotten he was working on it one morning, and didn't realize until lunch that he had been on nearly all morning -- oops!

Levi is not a hesitant reader, so there had never been any struggle in getting him to work through the program.  He really LOVED the entire premise as well as jobs.  Although it is designed for 4th - 7th graders, Levi (3rd grade) had no difficulty using it or understanding the story.  He reads above grade level anyway.  When we were discussing the story, however, he decided that it may not be for every 7th grader -- unless they particularly like animal based adventures.

One of the things that we never did during this review period was actually COOK one of the recipes that was shared in the program.  In order to complete the quizzes for the nutrition jobs, students did not have to actually bake or cook any of the recipes, but rather they were quizzed on the nutritional value of some of the ingredients.

Our Recommendation:  Levi has really LOVED this product and it has introduced him to some concepts that we haven't covered yet in his schoolwork, but he has remembered so much from the learning jobs!  We have plans to make one of the recipes soon, and he was THRILLED about that.

I definitely think this is a great {sneaky} tool to get kids reading and working on a variety of skills.  It would be a great summer "computer time" product!

If you are curious to know how older students fared with this product, please click below:

1 comment:

Star Toaster said...

Alane, thank you for the kind review! I really enjoyed reading how Levi liked the program. Wanted your readers to know that they can still try “Orphs of the Woodlands” for FREE. It’s a great way to get a head start on the next school year. Those who complete the FREE TRIAL receive a 25% OFF Promo Code for the entire program. Thanks again for the wonderful review! Happy Learning! ~Marlene