I have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I try, my kids do not prefer learning online. This surprises me because they would spend all day on some form of electronics if I would let them. However, I knew that they would enjoy my latest review opportunity from Star Toaster. Finally!! I found something that my kids enjoy *and* they are learning!!
Orphs of the Woodlands is an online educational resource. I like to think that’s it’s a cross between an interactive storybook and a game. And the best part? Your kids will be learning and not even realizing it!! I will try to review this in a way to do it justice but not give away any spoilers.
Many of the staff members of Star Toaster are from the homeschool community; however, this online educational program is great for any students. I’m thinking it’s the perfect thing for summer enrichment! It’s geared for students from 4th to 7th grade. I had my 8th grader and 2nd grader work through this, with me alongside. (I didn’t have to be there but the storyline is fun and interesting.)
Ready? Let’s get started.
As a parent, you will enroll your children. Everyone uses the same email address but each of you will have your own password. The parent not only can login at anytime to see your child’s progress, but periodically, you will receive an email showing what your child has learned so far and what’s next for them.
Once the children have their passwords, it’s time to get started. First, we watched some videos that explain how the whole program works. It’s really very simple. The program automatically remembers where you leave off so if you have to quit in the middle, you will go back right where you left off the next time you sign in. You begin by choosing a name for your character, which is a gray squirrel. I sat with Jeremiah (aka “Swaggy Spy”) the majority of the time so that’s the perspective I will share. After you have your name, you are given an application to complete. Your character, along with many other woodland creatures, have become orphans because of the Night Creatures. You have decided to try to become a spy so that you can fight these evil doers.
The story follows your quest to become a spy. To gain the knowledge required, you learn from many interesting characters that you meet along the way. Many of the lessons, are shown in the form of a small video embedded in the storybook. As you gain knowledge, you are able to do jobs which will earn you goldstars. The goldstars enable you to build orphanages to help all of the other needy orphs that you meet. Besides the orphanages, you have projects to complete to help take care of the orphs’ needs – water, clothing, food, weapons, etc.
The story is interactive. There are links to click on that will result in videos being played, sound clips, definitions being displayed, spy letters to open and more. The jobs are where the learning takes place. Jobs are broken down by different categories.
Jobs are given at the end of each chapter. You can also access them from the Skills Report. Here’s a more detailed look:
I really liked the fact that the child can’t skip ahead and just do all of the jobs without reading the chapter. Normally, you would never want to skip the reading anyway since the story is captivating but my boys are very competitive and I could see where they would try to find any shortcuts to advance further than their sibling. Ahem.
The jobs are fun too. Depending on the job, you might have flashcards to view first or a video before you can do the job. I think my son’s favorite part of the jobs were all the funny answers given as an option.
There is so much about this program that we loved! At the beginning of spy training, a library of books is delivered to your door. Your character just piles them up and doesn’t bother with them. When the Night Creatures break into your home, they take the books. Then you learn, too late, that the knowledge contained in the books is how you can beat the Night Creatures. I love that teaches the importance of education. Professor Forp shows the importance of learning new information daily. (FYI, he is called “Prof Forp” in the story. My son had to point out to me that “Forp” is just the “Prof” spelled backward. I hadn’t caught that. Now, I’m tempted to go back through the entire book to see what other little nuggets I’ve missed.) Oh, and I love all of the great quotes!! And the Latin phrases. This story is part of a series and we cannot wait until the next one is available! And I have to add just one more thing – we have an abundance of squirrels where we live. I caught Jeremiah outside playing like they were his “orphs” and he was taking care of them. If he will re-enact it in his free playtime, I know he loves it!
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