Sunday, May 12, 2013

{Review} Ooka Island

“Mom, I want to do big kid school.”  I have heard this from Chubbles more often than I care to admit.  Then something came in the mail that changed her tune.  Ooka Island came into our house and I hardly ever hear Chubbles ask to do school.  Now I hear joyful glees as she “works” on her school but she thinks she is just playing.

Ooka Island is a computer-based reading game for ages 3-7 which teaches phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.  Ooka Island was created by Dr. Kay MacPhee using the Eye/Ear Method in an adaptive learn-to-read technology.  But wait, this program is not all online.  Dr. MacPhee has also created downloadable workbooks that coordinate with the online books as well as a sing-along songs app for the iPhone and iPad with songs from Ooka Island.  Parents and educators also have access to downloadable motivational tools, online progress reports as well as the ability to purchase any of the 85 books (not e-books) that match the ones in the game.

Ooka Island can be purchased in three different editions: home, school and homeschool.  Pricing is different for each but for the homeschool edition I received, the subscription cost is $12.95/month or $124.95/year for one child.  If you have multiple children using the program at the same time, then the cost is $19.95/month or $149.95/year.  If you purchase before June 1st, 2013, you can request a code for 30% off the purchase price.

We received our installation software on a USB drive but it also comes on a cd or as a download for PC or MAC.  The install took about 10 minutes and once I entered our log-on information, Chubbles was able to play right away.  She is having a great time playing the games and following along reading the books with the built-in e-reader.  Within the first hour of play, she had completed two books and felt so proud of herself.  The program immediately sent me an email with a report of her progress.  I also went online to check her scores for each game or activity.

The program saves Chubbles’ progress so the next time she logs-in, she will start right where she left off.  It takes approximately twenty minutes of guided learning time to “find” an ebook.  Then it is about ten minutes of following along with the e-reader before Chubbles get to spend time in free play.  Each boy and girl will have to follow the Learning Flow so no one can go straight to free play time in the program, they earn it.  I love that!

Chubbles really feels independent but it has been great to see each of the older ones spend time sitting next to her offering support while she plays.  I think I have spotted Little Red and Dude wanting to play too which couldn’t hurt to review and improve their reading skills.  It might be something to consider for me to purchase the group subscription.

Pros: This program was easy to set-up and Chubbles was able to start right away.  The games and activities do not move too fast and are appropriate for the level of reading as boys and girls progress.  I love the options for reinforcements away from the computer as I am one who is concerned that children spend too much time with technology and not enough time with hands-on learning and playing.  I also think the price is inexpensive to other programs I have researched.

Cons: As with many homeschool families, the cost could be a factor.  Also, as I did research as I do with any curriculum or program I am considering for our homeschool, I found that Ooka Island is aligned with Common Core Standards which would benefit school programs required to follow the standards.

You can find out so much more and order your own copy at Ooka Island.

This review is part of Mosaic Reviews: A medley of review perspectives.  To see other perspectives, please visit here after May 13th.

The next review will be the Waterproof Bible.

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