Ooka Island Books – An Interactive Reading Program

DS8 has struggled with his reading, so when a fun-looking reading program was introduced to us TOS Crew members as a review opportunity, I eagerly requested to be chosen to do this review.  {Ok.  Truth be told… I was jumping up and down, begging to be chosen.  It’s a good thing that the “powers that be” didn’t see that extremely unprofessional demeanor.  ;-)}

PhotobucketFrom the Ooka Island website:

The Ooka Island Adventure is a downloadable hero-mission in 3D designed to teach young children how to read fluently and well. The Ooka Island Adventure combines the highly engaging components of a state-of-the-art virtual world with the scientifically proven OokaMethod that builds literacy skills.

Carefully embedded within the Ooka Island Adventure are dozens of interactive instructional activities that captivate the child and motivate them as they learn essential pre-reading, reading, spelling, and writing skills. After completing the Ooka Island Adventure, children will be on their way to reading fluently and well for life.

                                     (Video link – http://youtu.be/cBuOhjJgRVc

Now, I will say that DS8 has greatly enjoyed his time on Ooka Island, and I have heard him following directions and making phonics sounds.  His favorite game is the Cave of Sounds, and he loves to spend a lot of his time there.

As you can see in the above picture, this program works with a microphone.  I understand that it can be done without a microphone, but since I had one, DS8 was happy to use it.  DS8 has really connected with this reading program because one of the characters is a robot named Zobot.  He seems to be picking up what he is interacting with, and he is certainly having a great time with it!

This program works with a combination of reading, guided play, and free play.  To start with, there is 20 minutes of guided play which is followed by reading in the Popcorn Library.  The book is read twice with reading comprehension questions following.  During all activities, DS8 earned Ookamist.  After finishing the book and reading comprehension, there is 8 minutes of free play, during which he could use his Ookamist to purchase clothing and accessories for his avatar and equipment for the Pencil Playground.  He could also choose to play any learning activity that had been previously unlocked.

My experience with this program is mixed.  While I am glad that DS8 seems to be picking up more reading, I have had some sizable issues with this program.

  • The file that has to be downloaded is over 2 GB.  Yes, you read that correctly.  If you don’t have the fastest internet or you have limited bandwidth, this program will likely not work well for you.
  • 50% of the time that DS8 has used this program, there was a server connection issue… either I couldn’t log on, or I couldn’t exit out.
  • DS8 took the Compass placement test, but I could never tell if it made a difference in the level of his work or not.  The parent reports are not operational, yet, and reports are vital to see how he is doing.

I will say that the support staff is quick to respond and very helpful.  However, this program just came out of Beta, and I’m wondering if it was ready, yet.  I feel that this will be a spectacular program once it has the bugs worked out, but right now, Ooka Island seems like it is still in Beta-testing mode.

Pertinent Information:

  • Product name:  Ooka Island Books
  • Price: Pricing information is available on the Ooka Island website.  Currently, there is a launch discount of 30% off.  Use the code LAUNCHSPECIAL30.
  • Age Range: Pre-K to 2nd grade.
  • Read other reviews on this product on the Crew Blog Page.

FTC Disclosure: I was given a 6-month trial to Ooka Island Books for review purposes as a part of the TOS Crew. Although I was given this product free of charge, my opinions stated above are my own and not influenced by anyone.

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