Bear is loving Ooka Island. She wants to play it everyday. What is Ooka Island?
From their website
“The Ooka Island Adventure is a downloadable hero-mission in 3D designed to teach young children how to read fluently and well. The Ooka Island Adventure combines the highly engaging components of a state-of-the-art virtual world with the scientifically proven OokaMethod that builds literacy skills.
Carefully embedded within the Ooka Island Adventure are dozens of interactive instructional activities that captivate the child and motivate them as they learn essential pre-reading, reading, spelling, and writing skills. After completing the Ooka Island Adventure, children will be on their way to reading fluently and well for life.”
I like it too. The island map graphic is beautiful. Even my husband, who is VERY picky loves that map and the look of the games. I also love how their method of reading places so much emphasis on phonological awareness rather than on sight word recognition.
I don’t prefer the avatar. I think it looks a bit distorted. Not to mention that Bear was extremely unhappy when we first started and her avatar got stuck looking a certain way (because of Mommy trying something). She was not able to change the avatar until she earned enough points to go to the Pencil Playground, part of Ooka Island’s reward system. But I can look beyond this.
If you have a strong reader, Ooka Island Adventure will be too easy. It really is best for a child ready to learn to read. It is an impressive program and will train your Bear can read beyond the scope of the program which is for K-2nd grade. I actually contacted Ooka Island about why there was no way to skip levels or something and got a wonderful explanation from the representative, as well as an option to have the Ooka Compass turned on to assess her reading so she could at least skip the first books in the Popcorn Library. Here is the explanation that was sent.
In the Ooka Island Adventure there isn’t a way to bypass the activities to higher levels as it’s very important that the sequence of phonemic and phonetic activities (e.g. Cave of Sounds) are followed through so the child is strong and secure in the sound system. However, we do have an assessment tool, called the Ooka Compass, that will allow the child to skip books in the Popcorn Library to the appropriate reading level…. In the near future the ability to turn on this feature in the game will be available to all user accounts through the Ooka Lighthouse Dashboard. I’ll turn on the Ooka Compass now and she’ll be able to complete the assessment the next time she logs in.
Although Bear can read proficiently at a middle of third grade level, I found these games still helpful for enhancing listening skills. One such game involves listening to a series of sounds and clicking the screen when you hear the sound they asked for at the beginning of the series. Another is to listen to the segmented sounds of a word and click on the image of the word that was being segmented. Yet another game is to hear a sound and then pop the bubble with the correct representation (letters) for that sound. Ooka Island certainly trains a child’s ear for reading.
I kept asking Bear why she liked Ooka Island so much and what made her want to play it all the time. She just gave me blank looks. When pressed to at least tell me her favorite part, she informed me it was finding the new book under the sea. They get to search with this crane like thing amongst things at the bottom of the sea and find the next reader. The readers get read to them (at least in the beginning) and I like that as they are read, questions are asked to get the child thinking about the text. The narrator asks them to look at the illustrations for clues and asks other reading comprehension questions. I like this; so, even though part of me wants to mute the computer so Bear can read it alone, I don’t. I think Bear can learn a lot about the important aspect of questioning as you read from this part of Ooka Island. There are comprehension questions at the end of each reader and vocabulary questions as well. It really is a well-made program and I can tell a lot of thought went into the pedagogy of it.
If you are interested in Ooka Island for your beginning reader the family pricing is as follows: