I love it when I find new and unique products to use in our homeschool, even if it’s only for a short while. If it’s something that covers more than one subject, well, that’s even better! Our family was given the opportunity to try Orphs of the Woodlands from Star Toaster. The recommended starting grade is 4th, so only my 3 oldest children used this. Subscriptions normally last for 2 months, but we were given access for 1 full year. Extensions can also be purchased if needed. This is an online program, and is like a story, learning, and a game all-in-one. The title of the book is The Treasure of Hightower. One cool thing about the program is that many of the team members come form homeschooling families themselves. One team member is a teenager, and he did some of the coding, research, and even provided the voice for a character in the program.
What is Orphs of the Woodlands?
Okay, so Orphs of the Woodlands is a book, but it’s not just a book. It’s a fun online reading and learning adventure. To begin, students fill out a Spy Application! That’s because students play their own part in the adventure. They are a squirrel fighting against the Night Creatures who are terrorizing the Woodlands. The squirrel also is in charge of the orphans, or Orphs, and as tasks are completed, more can be rescued. The Orphs are actually mice, but don’t worry, they’re cute! One thing you’ll notice when filling out the application is that many words are in red lettering. These are actually vocabulary words, and when you hover your cursor on them, the definitions will pop up for each one. So, you’re learning before you start any work! In the application students get to pick their spy name and favorite color, as well as choose some of the best qualities about themselves. *One thing I noticed is that the squirrel character is only available as a male character. It would be great to have a female character available as well.* Once the application is submitted, students can go straight to the story. There are also vocabulary words throughout the story, so your student is learning while enjoying the story. At the bottom of the pages you can see what page number you are on, as well as the number of pages left in the story. There are also sound effects, but those are clickable so you don’t have to listen to them. There are 15 chapers total in the story.
There are jobs to be completed so that goldstars can be earned, and more Orphs can be rescued and taken care of. Goldstars can also be used to buy land plots, orphanages, and for projects to help care for your Orphs. The jobs are also learning opportunities; the job categories are math, language, science, thinking skills, vocabulary, character, life skills, and the arts. The life skills jobs have some yummy recipes to try as well! They also include cooking and nutrition tips. Many jobs have a training video presented by Professor Forp, and unless your student already knows the work, it’s a very good idea to watch them. They are generally just a few minutes in length. Once a certain number of jobs are completed in a topic, a goldstar pay raise is given.
So, what do we think? I personally think that Orphs of the Woodlands is a unique program. I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere. It’s definitely not a stand-alone curriculum, but it’s a great supplement, or can be used as a Summer break supplement. There is quite a bit of reading in the story, so it’ll be easier to use if your child is a pretty decent reader, as I can’t see a young child sitting still long enough to listen to the story. I love that it’s both learning and fun. There are quite a lot of jobs to do to earn goldstars, and so your child can set up their own little Orph community. The boys thought that all of the reading was a bit much, but Rach didn’t seem to mind it. The boys also tried to rush through the jobs to get their goldstars, so I had to remind them to slow down so they could earn more. 🙂
We used the program an average of 3 times per week, but your child could use it more often if they want, or less often. How quickly they finish depends on their reading skills and how much time they spend on the jobs and reading. You could easily break up the story time and not read a whole chapter at once. I really think this is a great supplement program, and I’m so glad we got to use it!
Be sure to read reviews from my fellow Crew Mates! We all received the same product for this review. Thanks for stopping by!