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Amazing Computer Game for Pre-Readers through 2nd Grade that my 4 and 7 year olds love

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

My son is 7. We follow a child-led philosophy for homeschooling. However, I have been ringing my hands about his reading. (He doesn't really do cvc.) He's the kind of kid that if you were to mildly encourage something he would stop doing it for a couple years. Still, I've been trying to find something to encourage his own discovery of reading.

 

Well, I found it. It's a computer game that he loves and I think is brilliant. He asks to do it several times a day. In about a week he's been on the program 12 hours and 42 minutes. (I just looked at his online record.) My four year old is also using it, though she started doing it independently later than he did (mainly she watches her brother play.) So far she has been read two of the books and to my delight had 100% in comprehension.

 

Essentially you are on Ooka Island and the robot takes you from game to game. You have to play the games it takes you to (though after "reading" a new book you get 8 minutes of free play. You read a book after every 20 minutes of play.) The program responds to how well your child does. So my son is going full force ahead. Our 4 year old had to repeat several parts until she mastered them, though they move from game to game so much I don't think she realized she was repeating. There's a lot of "speed" in the games--mountain climbing then skateboarding down the mountain, riding on jet skis, going down a mine shaft in a cart that jumps tracks, etc. Then there's the flying pigs that fall into the lake if you select the correct sound, and the cakes that fall in the recycling bin if you choose the wrong sound.

 

One of my favorite games is a load of stuff has fallen into a river. You have to hear the two sounds to figure out which item they are indicating then click on the item before it goes over the waterfall. So, you will hear, "J  EEP" and have to click on the jeep. I think one of the things about phonics that can be overwhelming is to try and make sense of a string of sounds. Even my 4 year old is quickly figuring out this game. (I am in no way interested in my 4 year old learning to read. However, she likes the game so I stay out of her way with it.)

 

Anyway, it's on special at the homeschooler buyers co-op. If you call the ooka island company directly you can get a two week free trial. You download the program then have internet connection for maintaining the stats and such. It's a HUGE program, 2 gig, so we had to get the free disk mailed to us (we live in the mountains and have satellite internet with only 15 g per month of data.)

 

There is a small demo on the co-op page but there is a much better one at the company website.

 

Here is a link to the co-op page (with a good discount. $40 for one child $52 for up to 4 kids.) https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/ooka-island/?source=98770 Disclaimer, if you use this link I get points for the co-op though I won't know who is buying using my link.

 

Here is a link to the website video tour: http://ookaisland.com/video-tour/

 

Like I said, our son has been totally against learning to read. With this game he is mastering concepts he balked at before. At the rate he's going he is on the fast track to reading and he doesn't even know it.

post #2 of 12

Thanks for sharing and for the great review! It would be even better over in our Reviews (without the promo link though as promo links are only appropriate in an advertiser member signature). We have a section for educational toys there.  http://www.mothering.com/community/products/category/education 

post #3 of 12

looks interesting! I can't install it though, its interacting with some other programs I have on there (chemistry stuff-molecular modelling software so might be quite a specific problem, and I can't uninstall them really). I'm also running Vista. Anyone else had similar problems this before I email the company?

post #4 of 12
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

looks interesting! I can't install it though, its interacting with some other programs I have on there (chemistry stuff-molecular modelling software so might be quite a specific problem, and I can't uninstall them really). I'm also running Vista. Anyone else had similar problems this before I email the company?

Call the company. Their customer service is great.

post #6 of 12

Not in the US unfortunately but thanks for the tip thumb.gif

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fillyjonk View Post

Not in the US unfortunately but thanks for the tip thumb.gif

I'm not sure what you mean. I live in Tucson, Arizona. My kids were playing the game for at least an hour earlier and I have called customer support on a toll free number a few times. 1-877-307-3616

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by SundayCrepes View Post

I'm not sure what you mean. 

 

Fillyjonk isn't in the US, so a 1-800 number won't work for her to contact customer support.

 

Miranda

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

Fillyjonk isn't in the US, so a 1-800 number won't work for her to contact customer support.

 

Miranda

Oh, I get it. I thought she meant that somehow this wouldn't work in the US (it's actually a Canadian product.)

 

Well, the number may not work but they have email and online chat. My first contact with them was via chat.

post #10 of 12

Thanks both. Its ok actually, we dug out a twelve year old computer (that dp and the kids had been literally about to dismantle and cannibalise!) and it runs fine on that. Vista's a bit of a nightmare tbh.

 

My guess is that they wouldn't actually have been able to help. What it is is that I have older chemistry modelling software on the computer which automatically associates certain files, and I need it to do this because its a right faff otherwise. Ooka Island seems to be using the same extensions for some reason meaning, basically, it cannot install on my decent computer. I've googled and I think this is an issue quite specific to the chemistry software, I don't think Ooka Island is generally over-associating files so unlikely to affect anyone else! Just our bad luck. We're managing, its just slow and blocky in parts (I think probably because the computer is 12 years old!)

 

Not sure what I think so far. I'm not really their target market anyway because I'm not a massive fan of teaching kids to read on the computer anyway-right now, for various reasons, it works for me to let my youngest have a bit of screen time and this looks quite innocuous. I think unless I can work out how to get it on my laptop I'd be unlikely to subscribe anyway. But as a way to teach reading...my jury's out. They seem to spend a lot of time so far teaching the order of the letters of the alphabet, which I have to say my older kids have just picked up through reading and using libraries. Still, my 5 year old is enjoying it and liking getting to use a computer!

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

My son has been on it enough that now the games are having him spell words based on phonics. He just read his 25th book and seems to be loving it the same.

 

I wasn't big on computer education either but my son seems to get a lot out of it. I still limit how much screen time but given how much he seems to be getting out of this program I'm being more liberal with computer time.

post #12 of 12

glad he's enjoying it! its great when you find something that clicks.

 

(think the key for me is that my daughter is, for me, at 5, young enough that I want her reading a lot less than I want her on the computer. If she were older, 8 or 9, might well be different)

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