Sunday, November 6, 2011

A computer reading program that's fun!

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Some of you may have gathered from previous posts that my Miss O is a little....technologically challenged. She and the computer, they just don't mesh. No matter how well-crafted or fun the computer game is, for some reason she always ends up in tears. Well, recently we had the chance to review another computer program, this time a reading program, called Ooka Island.
Miss O actually really had fun with this one! I was wary to begin with because of our failures in the past, but she really enjoyed this one, and I'm sure will continue to enjoy Ooka Island until our subscription runs out.

Here are some basics of the game:
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Ooka Island is a reading program geared toward children in Pre K through Grade 2. The child chooses an avatar to take them around Ooka Island and proceed through several different learning games. Some of the games Miss O enjoyed were the sound cave in which the child listens for a sound and her avatar is moved forward on a little roller coaster ride in the cave, and a mountain climbing game focusing on jumping from letter to letter in alphabetical order. Once they reach the top of the moutain, the child's avatar can skateboard down!

After being guided through the activities for twenty minutes, the child goes to the popcorn library to read a book. At first the books are read to you. Later, it is my understanding that the child reads the books. How it works is that every child, no matter their reading level starts at the same point in the game, but by contacting customer service, your child is offered an assessment to place them at the appropriate reading level in the popcorn library. Though Miss O is reading well already, I chose to start her out at the very beginning for the purpose of this review. But the option to bump your child up is out there for those who need it.

Once you are done in the popcorn library, the child has 8 minutes of free time on the island and can repeat whatever games they like or visit the playhouse, where they can dress their avatar in different clothes or play with the Ooka elves and their toys.

It is my understanding that Ooka Island is a fairly new program, and thus there do seem to be some kinks that need working out. For one, the download itself is quite lengthy. They warned about this one the website, that since there were so many components to the game, the download would be long. But mine was over 2 hours, and even then I had to contact customer support for help because the program would not run right. Fortunately they were very helpful and I was able to get the program going. A second problem we encountered with Ooka Island was with the avatar. Ours was headless! And if my daughter entered the "closet" to change her avatar's clothes, the game would freeze up and we had to close it. Neither of these were a huge deal to me, but I thought I'd be honest and just say the game isn't "perfect" just yet.

Ooka Island runs by subscription. It's $12.95 for one month, $59.95 for 6 months, and $99.95 for a year. Alternatively, if you have more than one child who wants to play, you can take a look at their family account pricing, which is cheaper. You'll want to check out their website because it has lots of information and some video to help you get a feel for what the game is like. Also see the graphic below for a promo code to save 30 percent!
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My opinion is that Ooka Island is a really fun, well put together program that most children will really enjoy. I think if the child is just starting out, they would be the ones who would benefit the most.

Please note: I received Ooka Island for free in exchange for my honest review. I am not obligated to give a positive review.

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