About Ooka Island
“Ooka Island Inc. is an educational company committed to using science-based reading methods and technology to increase literacy skills for children. Our goal is to teach children to read fluently and well through reading instruction that is fun and compelling.”
Ooka Island was founded by Dr. Kay MacPhee and Jim Barber. Dr. MacPhee spent 25 years developing techniques to help hearing-impaired students develop language skills and learn to read. She was directly inspired by her son, who was born profoundly deaf. And if there is one thing I’ve learned in life, there is nothing quite as passionate as a motivated parent. Amen?
Jim Barber authored all 95 of the Ooka Island Books and is the creative brain behind Ooka Island. You can read more about the credentials of the Ooka Island team on their website.
Ooka Island Adventure
The part of the program that I reviewed is the Ooka Island Adventure game. It is a Pre-K to Second grade learn-to-read game. You install the program onto your computer, log in with your password, and then Zobot guides your student through the program. The program keeps track of your student’s scores and skills, which you can monitor in the Ooka Island Lighthouse online. While this part is online, the program itself is self-contained so you do not have to worry about little fingers clicking around and finding things they should be seeing on the internet.
The Ooka Island learning flow cycle goes like this: the student is guided through lessons by Zobot, then reads an ebook, and then they have a free play session. Progress is automatically saved so if a lesson is interrupted, your student will not have to start all over again. This is handy for younger computer users who do not understand the process of “saving” their progress.
Also, all the activities on Ooka Island are point and click, so those who don’t know how to use the keyboard can use this without problems.
Pricing & Other Ooka Island Products
The pricing for Ooka Island Adventure depends on how you will use the program. For example, for an individual student to use the program, the cost is $12.95/month or $124.95/year. For a family edition that includes 2-4 students, the cost is $19.95/month or $149.95/year. Ooka Island Adventure is available for schools as well.
For homeschoolers, there are a variety of helps to go along with the game. You can download a guidebook. You can also print coloring pages to go along with some of the books, maps and completion certificates to track the ebook reading progress, and workbooks to help with vocabulary and reading comprehension. There is even a free sing-along song app that you can download.
Ooka Island Adventure is not the only product offered. There are also many book packages available.
What Did I Think?
Oh, boy. My daughter loved this game. She repeatedly said, “This is awesome!” as she played. Her favorite part of the game was the Cave of Sounds. She asked daily to play the game.
What I loved most was the ability to track how she is doing without having to sit there the whole time. I loved that she loved it. I liked that I saw progress being made. The game is engaging and fun, my student doesn’t enjoy sitting to do reading lessons. Often times her reading lessons include her wiggling around as she reads. With the game, her eyes, hands, and brain are engaged.
The only thing I go back and forth on is the pricing. For one student, $12.95/month seems kind of high. I do like the flexibility and lower initial expense of monthly payments verses the lump sum of a year. It is more cost effective if you have more than one student (essentially 2 students = $10/month, 3 students = $7/month, and 4 students = $5/month). I would like to see better pricing for those with only one student.
Overall, I really like the program and am considering keeping it for my soon-to-be 2nd grader. If you would like to try it, you can save an additional 30% through June 1, 2013 (you need to click through that link to save the 30%).