My kids are constantly wanting me to let them get new apps on the ipad. Of course, they are usually the less educational ones that I don't care to clutter up the iPad with, so I was kind of excited for the chance to review an app with something more. We had the opportunity to try out a new learning app on our iPad called Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree from Star Toaster. This app has it all; reading, spelling, science, math, and grammar all wrapped up in a fun interactive story.
The main part of this app is a chapter-by-chapter story. As the child reads the story there are links on specific words which take them to a more detailed lesson about the word or phrase that is highlighted. Some of the lessons include a science lesson, definitions of words, math lessons, grammar lessons, and more. I also love the little jokes and funny comments made throughout these lessons. I think that really keeps the kids interested, and it doesn't seem so much like learning.
Throughout the game the kids also have to stop reading the story and do some "work." They have to finish jobs to earn a certain amount of stars for the orphs to get their supplies. They need to earn stars to buy things like flour, nuts, clothes, kitchen items, and lots of other things. As they go through the story it will stop the child and say "you need some nuts, or some strawberries would be good", and then how many stars they have to earn to reach that goal.
Then, it will take them to this place called Stumptown. There they can choose which jobs they want to do. Those jobs are basically quiz questions about specific things they learned. As they complete these jobs the gold stars are earned and the jobs are checked off. A very good visual for anyone who likes to see their accomplishments as they go.
All the pictures and lessons are very fun and engaging. I really liked this chapter called "The Storm." It had a cute science lesson about birds, and how animals can sometimes act funny when storms are coming. It also had a science lesson about thunder with a little math lesson about distance included. Those are just a few examples of some of the lessons that are included. Just in the first few chapters there are also lessons about similies, pulleys, and squirrels.
This app has room for many different users. I had both my 8 year-old and my 5 year-old try it. The 8 year-old finished it all very quickly, and he really liked it. He was able to do it all on his own. My 5 year-old however only lasted through one chapter. I had to read it to him, so it definitely was not an independent game for him. I will try again in a few months to see if he likes it as he learns to read more. There is a lot of reading which can feel like a lot for younger kids. For older kids it will feel like easy reading, but the story is a fun one for all ages 5-10. I even thought it was fun.
Some of the questions are easy, but some are very specific and require a lot of paying attention to the little links and lesson throughout the story. One thing that I also really liked was that there are ways to go directly to the little lessons while in stumptown without having to go back through the story to find the links. If a child missed one they can just click on the job training that they missed to learn what is needed to collect the stars.
Overall, I think this is a great little app packed with a lot of learning. I think this would be a great addition for any family especially if you are busy and just have time to grab the iPad or iPhone. It could be a great game to play with on the go. It could also count for some summer reading hours if your kiddos are doing any summer reading programs for the library. The only drawback I found with this app was that I found it was hard to move through the pages easily, so we couldn't go back to the beginning very easily. But, that could also be a good thing as it moves the child through the story sequentially and they won't get lost in the app and skip around too much.
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