Orphs of the Woodlands ~ REVIEW

I have a little video game lover that's also an avid reader here at home.  So, to find a program that has the best of both worlds makes me one happy Momma!  Star Toaster was generous and gave my Family the opportunity to try their online educational series, Orphs of the Woodlands in exchange for my Review.  This online program incorporates vocabulary, math, science, thinking skills, problem solving and nutrition all wrapped up in an exciting adventure.  Your child will learn hundreds of lessons through out this program.  The Story is about a squirrel, that your child get's to name, who becomes a caregiver to the orphans in the Woodlands.  He protects and provides for them.  These orphans are called "Orphs".  The squirrel is a special spy that fights off the pesky creatures who are terrorizing the orphaned creatures that live in the forrest.   

Orphs of the Woodlands is available as a 60 day subscription for up to 3 children for only $19.99 and for $6.99 you can get a 30 day extensions as needed if your child has not finished the book.  

You can do a free trial and experience the first 100 pages of the book!  The program is geared to children in grades 4th-7th.  We were given a year subscription that included Book 1: The Treasure of High Tower. 

What really drew me originally to this program was the game aspect and when I saw the graphics and all the details my heart fluttered.  The quality of the program, all the way down to the voices are top notch.  No robotic tones or pages that wont turn.  Everything loaded promptly and smoothly and to get started each time was so simple anyone could use this program successfully.  
Kaden loves Minecraft, gathering resources is his number one favorite thing to do.  So, when I read that during the game as you read and get to the end of each chapter the squirrel gets to "work".   And in return he earns gold stars that he will then use to be able to take care of the Orphs he's adopted. The more questions your child answers correctly during the story the more he will earn.  Then he can use the earned stars to buy more land for new orphanages, food, clothes and medicine.  
Like I said before, the program was super easy to get started.   They offer videos for the kids to become familiar with how to navigate the program.  Kaden basically hopped right on, followed the tutorials and completely set the whole thing up independently.  Not bad for 8 and he loves when he can do things that doesn't require me hovering over him.  I like that too!! :)

So, let me tell you my Loves and my Don't likes.  Actually these are Kaden's.   He loves basically EVERYTHING about this program except one thing.  The chapters are way too long.  He came down day 2 and was like I can't handle it anymore.  The chapters are anywhere from 20-40 pages.  Now Kaden can read that, I've seen him read a 200 page book in 3 days.  He was just so excited to do the jobs and to tend to the Orphs that waiting so long to get a small amount of game time proved to not me motivational and encouraging to him.  Now, there are little gems of videos, recipes and vocabulary extras through out the actual reading and those are golden for a boy that's anxious for some action.  But, I think that reading for long periods of time on the computer screen is harder then in a book.  He would be up there an hour and I would check in on him and he's still reading.  I would love to see them shorten the chapters up and make it a possibility to interact more during the game play for longer.  You know what would be awesome?  If in the parent's section there was a way for the parent's to control the amount of reading needed for each session.  Like for Kaden I would say 8-10 pages would have been a perfect amount.  So, maybe being able to customize it for your child's need would be a great feature to offer.  Or have an option to have the story read to the child as they follow along.  This would be great for Kaden, so I have volunteered to read a page and then have him read a page.  Because he loves the story and the whole program, just the length is not very special needs friendly. 

So, what did I think?  I loved it and can see myself using it with other kiddos.  Visually it's like a vacation for my eyes, easy to navigate and the amount of knowledge your Kiddo picks up is by far worth every little penny and more.  It would be nice if they changed a few things regarding the length of each chapter.  But, I am content continuing the program and just taking turns reading along with Kaden.  
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