{Review} Come on an Ooka Island Adventure!

Reading. It's one of the most important skills anyone can have. It's also one of the most stressful parts of homeschooling. I have successfully taught 3 of my 5 kids to read. I was not blessed with self-starters or motivated readers. None of my 3 oldest taught themselves, none of them zipped through words quickly and effortlessly, and none read for pleasure for a long time. You would think that having done it 3 times before, teaching #4 would be a breeze. But like with most things, my kids are all very different and what works for one definitely doesn't work for the next. Lakin and I are in a frustrating place right now in his reading journey. He's stubborn, a perfectionist, and doesn't have a huge attention span. We are making slow but steady progress, and I will take any help I can get when it comes to teaching how to read. I am a firm believer that practice makes perfect, so the more words, books, games that have to do with language the better.

Over the years I have used many different computer programs aimed at teaching phonics and language skills. I have used CD based programs, free website, subscription based websites and free trials of many more. So when I was asked to try out Ooka Island I was pretty excited. Like I said- I will take any help I can get in hopes that it will help make reading click!

About the Product:

Ooka Island is learn to read game designed for kids at the Pre-K to 2nd Grade level. It teaches phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension. It is a self contained application on your computer, available for both Mac and PC, that adapts to your child based on their abilities as they go through the program.

Ooka Island follows a cycle of guided play, e-reader and free play to help keep the kids engaged and eager to learn. The Ooka Island map is full of fun and games such as Alphabet Mountain, The Cake Factory and Bubbly Trubbly that teach things phonics, blending, decoding and sequencing. The player moves through these games during the guided part of each lesson. Then they enter the Popcorn Library to read and earn books. In this e-reader section they listen to a book and complete comprehension activities. You can even print out a book path for them to place stickers on as they complete each book.

In addition to the application, there is a online component to the game where parents can go to see their child's progress. You can view all sorts of reports and analysis and see how your child is progressing. You can also find resources to use offline such as workbooks, book paths, certificates and even music to help keep your child excited!

What did we think?

Lakin LOVES games like this, and he was so excited when it came in the mail. It is very visually appealing which means kids are excited right off the bat.

What I liked most:
  • I like that is it self adapting. We have used programs in the past that don't adapt as the child progresses and this leads to boredom or frustration as things become too easy or too hard. 
  • This program does a really good job of keeping interest alive. The games change with enough frequency and they have enough movement and story lines involved to keep you thinking. 
  • Extra resources. Games like this are only part of teaching your child to read. It's still very hands on with parental involvement required. The activity books are great reinforcement for what they are learning in the game and the other resources work to keep the excitement alive. 
  • I liked that it had a lot of directed activities. This meant that Lakin couldn't keep repeating his favorite games  and he couldn't skip those he didn't particularly like. 

Things to think about:

We've tried quite a few computer based games in our reading journey, and what I have learned is that they all have good qualities and they all share a common goal. The biggest variable in the equation is your child. Different kids prefer different games, so I have always been a fan of the "free trial" offered by many companies. This way I can know for sure if my child is going to mesh well with the game. Being a self contained application, this might be hard to do, but I think some sort of Demo CD or online sample games might be a good idea so that customers, and their kids, can get a good feel for the game before making their purchase.  That being said, my child really enjoyed his time on Ooka Island, and I can see that his skills improved because of it.

Want to purchase Ooka Island for yourself?

Ooka Island can be purchased from their website for the following prices:

    $12.95 per month or $124.95 annually

Family (of up to 4 children):

   $19.95 per month or $149.95 annually

 And right now you can get up to 30% off your subscription by clicking here!

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