Orphs of the Woodlands (Review)

Friday, April 17, 2015

As parents, both Dave & I are particularly careful about what activities our children do online.  It is always good to find a program that maintains our personal standards, is full of educational material & that the children are eager to use. Recently we've been given the opportunity to review such a program: Orphs of the Woodlands (The Treasure of the High Tower) by Star Toaster.

Star Toaster Review
Orphs of the Woodlands is an online, interactive story which contains many different educational elements.  It is a fun & engaging way for children in 4th to 7th grade to learn from many different subject areas. Orphs of the Woodlands is set in the woodlands filled with all kinds of characters & interesting places to explore.  It begins with the student filling out an application for their 'character' (who is a squirrel) to join a secret organisation who are fighting the 'night creatures'.  Within this application the child makes various choices which are then used within the story.  The story is broken into 15 different chapters. Within the adventure, the character helps save 'orphs' who have no one else to help them.  At the end of each chapter, there is the opportunity for the character to complete various jobs.  In doing these jobs they earn gold stars which then allows them to save more 'orphs' as well as support the orphs they already have. These incentives engage the student further & gives them a reason to work through the jobs which contain the bulk of the learning material.
Star Toaster Review
There are over 300 jobs within Orphs of the Woodlands.  All are categorised under one of the learning areas of: Math, Science, Language, Vocabulary, Thinking Skills, Character, Life Skills & The Arts. When the chapter is completed, the student can choose to complete as many or as few jobs as they would like. At the end of each chapter, more jobs are presented, which gives the student the chance to earn more gold stars. They do need to be able to support their orphs & the aim is to help as many as possible so they should try to earn these gold stars. Should they decide not to complete a job at the end of that chapter, it is still available for them to complete at the end of subsequent chapters. 
  One of my favourite parts of the program are the many vocabulary words which are highlighted within the pages of the story. The student is able to scroll over the word & a definition for the word will be displayed.  I feel this adds an additional element to the story that allows the student to fully understand the words used. It also enables the storyteller to use words which are above the vocabulary level of that age of student.

There is also a parent login which allows you to monitor where your students are up to.  You can also use this to work through the program yourself should you wish to be aware of the content being presented to your children.
We received a 12 month subscription to Orphs of the Woodlands. Both Zai & Ellie used this program multiple times during the week throughout the review period.  They are both prolific readers & so they could complete the program entirely independently.  They were both eager to use this program & found the story engaging & exciting.  I noted that it certainly held their interest & continues to do so.  The program is progressive & both children found it very easy to navigate through. 
One thing we did note was that it is important for the student to be a strong reader. The story is quite long with each chapter containing many pages.  It also contains words which will be new to the student (all fully explained in the definitions).  The jobs were generally very easy for both my students to complete.  The incentive of saving orphs was fun & my children certainly enjoyed that element.  We felt Orphs of the Woodlands was an exciting & easy way to learn. It was a fun addition to our learning program.
Star Toaster Review
Star Toaster is currently offering a free trial of Orphs of the Woodlands.  This allows you to read the beginning of the book & to complete the first few lessons ensuring you can assess if this will suit your particular family's learning needs.  
Star Toaster can also be found at:
Star Toaster Review
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