I was given a free copy of Ooka Island Adventure Homeschool Edition in exchange for my honest review.
Ooka Island is a computer program designed to help children learn to read. The program is geared towards ages 3-7 and is available for use with both Windows PC and Mac OS X. Ooka Island Adventure is focused on reinforcing phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Ooka Island Adventure is available in 3 different versions: home edition, school edition, and homeschool edition. My review is based on the homeschool edition.
The game can be purchased as either a USB to be plugged directly into the USB port on your computer, as a CD, or via instant download. The game is then downloaded onto your computer. I had no difficulty downloading the program using the USB drive with my Windows PC, but there is a number provided for assistance if you do encounter some difficulties. The game does require Internet access to allow for updates on your student’s progress, but does not provide an opportunity for student’s to surf the Internet without leaving the game.
I had two “pupils” utilizing the game; a three year old and a five year old. Both found the program to be engaging and fun and neither saw using Ooka Island as “schooling.” We saw the most improvement with the five year old in her reading comprehension; although, it provided an excellent motivator for the three year old to focus more on both reading and learning how to utilize the computer mouse.
The program guides the students through a cycle of guided play, e-Reader, and free play. Zobot the Robot leads the students through a variety of activities that focus on learning the letters of the alphabet, recognizing sounds, and utilizing those letters and sounds to form words and phrases. Next, the program operates as a e-Reader and provides audio for a book that the child finds. Each book is then followed by additional activities focused on comprehension and basic grammatical skills like sentence structure. The readers have levels inclusive of Pre-K to second grade. For completing the reading exercises, the child is rewarded with 8 minutes of free play that enables them to tour and explore Ooka Island.
The game portion of the program focuses on kids being able to rescue Ooka elves each time they complete five books. They can also earn points, known as Ooka Mist that enables them to buy different items including music and costumes. A trophy room is also provided that gives the students the opportunity to add stickers to activity boards as they successfully advance through the components of the game. Downloadable workbooks are also provided to allow for offline practice of concepts covered in the program and these are available for free download.
Ooka Island’s primary strength is that it is a motivating program that encourages children to want to learn without even realizing that they are engaging in a learning activity. The program is powered by READirect, a technology that creates varying responses in the game based on your student’s answers. Ooka Island will provide more practice on areas that it recognizes as difficult for the student and thus adapts well for both struggling and gifted students. As the kids using the program in our house reported: This is so fun! 🙂
Ooka Island is available for purchase at http://ookaisland.com. The price for use with one student is $12.95 per month or $124.95 per year. A family plan allows for use of the program with up to four students for $19.95 a month or $149.95 per year.
Ooka Island has been generous enough to offer 30% off either a monthly or yearly subscription! The offer is good until June 1st, 2013. Click here to redeem.