Review: Star Toaster’s Orphs of the Woodlands

Every year I have my kids take standardized tests, and every year I dread having them “prep” for the tests (so normally we don’t prep at all!). I was super excited when The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew was asked to review Orphs of the Woodlands from Star Toaster. This educational program is great for learning – or reviewing – skills and I was thrilled that we could have fun when we brushed up on reading comprehension and other basics prior to the “big test”.  The review is part of my role as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.

 

Star Toaster Review

 

How does it work?

Orphs of the Woodlands is an educational game where kids play the role of a secret agent squirrel. By completing “jobs” (reading comprehension questions, math questions, etc.) they can earn “gold stars”. The stars are then used to build projects and save “orphs”. The “orphs” are orphaned forest creatures.

Star Toaster Review

 

Since my kids are a little older, I asked them to write a review of the program. Here’s Big’s (she’s 13):

     Do you want to study for Standardized Tests? Me, neither! It seems like a boring necessity and a waste of my time.  This product is different. Orphs in the Woodland is interactive and amusing. It almost seems like you’re not even studying. The book that goes with it is funny and helpful, even for a higher age group. I really enjoy Orphs of the Woodland– both for pleasure and for studying.

My favorite part of the entire part was the book. It is fifteen chapters long, and a great read. The story was good, it had definitions for hard words, and the name you picked was even inserted! The story is written in first person, from the point of view of a Squirrel secret agent. When you finish a chapter you can do jobs to earn money (called “Goldstars”) to save orphans (“Orphs”). Some of the money you earn can be used on projects. The book was so much of a page-turner that it only took me three days to read.

The jobs and Ivythwaite (the orphanage) were fun, for the right age group. The “jobs” are one or two multiple choice questions about subjects from earlier on in the book. The questions are in several different categories, and the more you do in each category, the more money you earn for it. With the money you can do three things: save Orphs, sustain Orphs, and do projects. Projects are things you can buy to make caring for the Orphs less expensive. The games are great, and, in case you can’t remember everything you read, before each question is a review of the subject.

One part I didn’t like was that the age level was wrong! Oh, what I would give to have this game for higher grades. Currently, it’s at what I would say is a fourth grade level. This book/game/study was called The Treasure of High Tower, and because it said I read book one, I’m hoping there will be more books in the future. Another comment I have is, maybe it’s just me because I took a break in the middle, but it seemed to end a little quickly. Overall, I give Orphs of the Woodland a high rating and recommend buying it for your Third through Fifth grader.

 

And, comments and opinions from Little, aged 12:

 

     Orphs of the Woodlands is an amazingly detailed game that can be used for test prep, or as school for a week. You find a journal from a spy that leads you along an interesting and educational path. You learn important lessons such as vocabulary and math along the way. You get sucked into the story as you earn the currency “Goldstars” that you then use to support your Orphans “orphs”.

You do jobs working at places that need your learned help. You do such things as count gold stars for banks (math) and name paint colors (word skills). You can buy plots of land and build orphanages for your “orphs”. You will also need to buy food, medicine, and clothing for them. This game is very interesting and I would give it a 4 out of 5 stars. I would recommend this game for 8-10 year olds.

One or two things that I thought were annoying or could have made it better. When you entered the answer to their question, you had to scroll down a little bit to get to the submit button.  It would also be nice if they could put more writing per page in the story part. I did not have many problems running this software.

I really liked this educational software so this section should be longer than the preceding one. This felt more like a game than work which is great for younger kids. I liked that it explained things if you didn’t understand them. This is great for kids in 4-6 grade. I overall enjoyed the experience immensely.

 

Observations:

My xbox, video game loving son gives this a “4 out of 5 stars”. Seriously. It’s that awesome.

As a parent, one aspect that I LOVED is the graphics. This looks and feels like a high end video game. The graphics and interface are amazing. It does NOT in any way, look like a low budget “learning” game. It’s slick. It’s pretty. The art is remarkable. It was an easy sell to my fantasy loving kids.

Star Toaster ReviewSee… it’s gorgeous!Star Toaster ReviewFrom the perspective of a parent – this is a great learning tool. The kids really enjoyed it, the material is solid, the story was thoroughly engaging and well-written, and the interface is smooth. My daughter completed the whole thing in 3 days – foregoing all other video games in the process. She loved it. My son got a little more distracted, but had I assigned this – I would not have received any complaints! He’s also a great reader but still enjoyed the plot line and the activities without even being assigned it as schoolwork!

 

Any bad parts?

When my kids complain the only bad part was that it ended – that’s a win for me!! I too am hoping that they release another level – as we’d totally buy it. As it is, I encouraged two local friends to buy this for their kids, and I am pretty sure they’re all enjoying it.

 

Summary:

If you don’t believe me that this is a great product – try it for free. Normally priced at $19.99 for a 60 day subscription for up to three students (and only $6.99 for a 30 day extension), Star Toaster is offering a free trial and access to the first 100 pages of the story. It’s a great offer and one I highly recommend.

Star Toaster Review

 

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