An Online Story With Interactive Fun and Learning: A Schoolhouse Crew Review (Orphs of the Woodlands)

I think most all kids like online games. I have several who do. And when those online games can combine the fun things they enjoy with reading and educational activities, all the better. So I was very excited to receive Orphs of the Woodlands, an online story with interactive activities, from Star Toaster.

We received access to Orphs of the Woodlands. This is an online based game intended for grades 4-7 from Star Toaster. This online adventure can be purchased for 90 days for up to three children for $19.99. (Time extensions can be purchased.) There is currently a free trial available. Keep reading for more details.

So what exactly is Orphs of the Woodlands?

It’s a reading adventure. Right now there is one book available- The Treasure of HighTower. The main part of this online program is a book. It’s a story that the kids read online. It is divided into chapters. There are fifteen total chapters. The story is an imaginative one, featuring a brave and determined squirrel who is intent on rescuing orphs (orphan animals) and finding the treasure of HighTower.

It’s interactive reading. Throughout the chapter, there will be words in orange print. When the child hovers over these, she can read a definition or some other information. Occasionally there will be a chalk board in the reading. This signifies a video lesson that the child can click and watch. There are also recipes sprinkled throughout the reading. When the child reads about a food that the animals in the story are eating, they can click the item and see a recipe. These are real recipes- although the food names are quite interesting, such as Stomachache Stew and Pitiful Peach Pie. There are also occasional Top Secret envelopes throughout the reading. These will have secret information for the squirrel turned spy in the story. They often have to be decoded in some way.

It’s full of educational activities. At the end of each chapter, the kids have the opportunity to do jobs. These jobs are various learning activities. Sometimes there will be an instructional passage to read. Sometimes there is a short video lesson. After this short learning, the kids will have questions to answer or problems to solve. If the job is done correctly, they earn Goldstars.

It’s an online game. The Goldstars are a currency in the game. After completing jobs and earning Goldstars, the child is taken to the game board. Here she can save little orphs, the orphaned animals in the story, as well as create a home for them by purchasing needed items and expanding their home.

How does Orphs of the Woodlands work?

The child or parent can login. Both use the parent email, but each have separate passwords. When the parent is logged in, she can see the progress of any child using the program.

When the student logs in, she can see an overview of her progress. Then she can click on Timeline to see where she is in the story. The book will open to the correct place where she left off- even if it’s in the middle of the chapter.

When the child finishes a chapter, she’s presented with the available jobs for that chapter. If she somehow skips jobs or has gone to the next chapter, she can click her name at the top of the page to see a skills list. From this list, she’ll see the jobs she’s completed and can click on the ones she hasn’t completed.

The parent receives periodic emails about the child’s progress- how many pages read, how many jobs completed, and a look at what material the child is headed into.

What did we think of Orphs of the Woodlands?

I love the concept of the interactive book. The kids were drawn to it because of the game element. But it not only was a fun game, it had them reading and doing learning activities.

There were an excellent variety of activities. I loved that we could see how many jobs fell into each category and exactly what the jobs were when we clicked on the skills option under the child’s name. By looking at this we could tell exactly what they had been practicing and what was left to practice. It helped me to see what skills they had mastered and which ones they had not.

The amount of reading was difficult for my girls. They fell on the younger end of the recommended age range of 4th-7th grade. Most of the chapters were 30 or so pages long. (It did help that there was a count down at the bottom of each page.) The girls would get overwhelmed with the reading and discouraged that they would never get to the jobs part. We remedied this by taking turns reading out loud. If I read for a while, they would take a turn, and then they would get through the chapters a little easier. It also helps that there are clickable items throughout the reading, such as the words in orange to click on, recipes, and Top Secret envelopes. When I read aloud, I made sure to point these out, so the girls wouldn’t miss them.

Overall, Orphs of the Woodlands has been a great addition to our homeschool. I love the extra reading and skills practice, and the girls love the game. We aren’t through with the book yet (because our reading is slow going), but we’re definitely going to finish. And I’ll wait excitedly for the possibility of more books to come.

The Facts:
Company- Star Toaster
Product- Orphs of the Woodlands online, interactive story
Age Recommendation– 4th-7th grades
Price-$19.99 for 3 months access for up to 3 kids

FREE TRIAL- Right now Star Toaster has a free trial available. You’ll receive the first 100 pages of the story, complete with interactive activities, for free. This is a great way to let your child try it and see if it’s a good fit.

Crew Disclaimer

Many members of the Schoolhouse Crew tried out Orphs of the Woodlands. You can see what they thought by clicking the banner below.

Star Toaster Review

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