When we were asked to review Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree from Star Toaster I knew the perfect time for my seven year old to try it out. Each night, I tuck both B5 and A7 to bed at the same time. Each night A7 struggles to get to sleep because she simply does not need as much sleep as her younger sister. This app was perfect to use on Gary’s Ipad, meaning A7 could use it on her top bunk without any additional light, whilst B5 fell asleep on the bottom.
What is Orphs of the Woodland?
This is essentially a reading app, only so much more! When you log on to the 122 page book you are introduced to the narrator of the story, Abba, the flying squirrel:
As you can see, the illustrated book to follow is actually Abba’s journal. It begins the day of the flood, when many little critters lose both their homes and their families. The Orphs of the book are the orphans of the wood, after the flood. The premis of the book is that you help Abba to rebuild the woodlands, ensuring the Orphs have a place to live, fresh food and water. In order to do this, you are given jobs to do worth a certain number of stars. Stars are the currency of the woods, and you are able to swap the stars for whatever is the current need of the Orphs, for example Fresh Water.
The book itself was easy reading for my seven year old, and she needed no help at all to run the whole program. The screen shot below shows the level of the writing:
Littered throughout the book are highlighted words. These are words which may require more explanation to improve the users understanding of the text. The words tend to be potentially difficult vocabulary, similies, compound words, homonyms and character building words (such as learn to listen; listen to learn ). These are all explained thoroughly. Below shows the character building concept of ‘paying attention’. This is highlighted in blue which encourages the user to click on it. Up pops an explanation of what it means and why it is a good characteristic:
Once the user has read a few pages, they are told that the Orphs need, say, water, or flour, or in the case below, some strawberries:
The bottom right hand side shows how many stars are required to buy the product. For strawberries 60 stars are needed. The user is then taken to a page which gives them a choice of jobs:
The number shows how many potential stars can be earnt.
There is then a choice of job training, which prepares the user for the ‘jobs’ underneath. The job training falls under the following educational subjects:
For example, when asked to do some work for the beavers the user is trained in the subject of maths to count in fives (using tally marks) and in hundreds; during a job training in squirrel science the user learns that flying squirrels do not, in fact, fly (they glide) and that they use their tail to steer their gliding. Who knew?!. The job requires them to read a question based on the training and answer with the best option given:
The user continues with the on-the-job training and completes the jobs by doing the required tasks, until the number of stars needed are earned, and the user is then able to swap these stars for an item for the Orphs:
This continues until the whole book has been read, all the job training completed and all the tasks done. This all means that the Orphs, (orphans of the woodland) have all their needs and some of their wants met.
What did we think of Orphs of the Woodland?
This was love at first use! Honestly, A7 used this app every night for half an hour, learning vocab words, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, similes, compound words and the like. Within a couple of weeks she had finished the whole book and all of the activities and has asked every night since when the next app would be available. This was a huge winner! My only gripe would be that it is not long enough! An app which would last the whole year would be even better 🙂
A7 and I highly recommend this app.
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