Orphs of the Woodlands is an educational app with a whole host of features that make it a rich learning environment.
The spine of this program is a twenty-three chapter story about Abba, a flying squirrel who lives in the Hoggoh Hollow area of Tangletree with other animal friends. Each chapter of the story spans across four to eight screens.
After a storm floods much of the area, Abba finds his way to Stumptown. He then finds work to earn gold stars so that he can buy supplies to help Hoggoh Hollow recover from the flood.
At the end of each chapter, the app switches over to the screen showing your current goal in terms of stars needed to buy a particular supply (water, flour, blueberries, etc). Based on the number of chapters that have been read, different business will have varying numbers of available jobs. First, the student must complete the job training section. Job training gives the basic information needed for answering the questions asked in the jobs. After completing the job training, the student clicks on the corresponding Help Wanted job to answer a multiple choice question and earn stars for a correct answer. After finishing all the available jobs, the student must read another chapter (or more) of the story in order to unlock more jobs.
For the most part, Lauren worked independently with this app. (I didn't want it to seem too much like schoolwork by watching over her shoulder.) Thankfully, the app is set up so that I can easily see her progress.
She rarely picked up the iPad solely with the intention of playing Orphs of the Woodlands, but she didn't complain when I told her that she needed to work on it. In fact, if I told her that she needed to play for fifteen minutes, she'd often continue playing for far longer than I requested. Lauren preferred using it on the iPad instead of trying to get me to let her use my iPhone, but she found that she needed to be connected to wifi in order to access all the features.
When I played Orphs myself to see what information was covered, I was quite impressed. Some of the job training included facts about animals, some covered literature concepts such as similes, and some taught the differences between commonly mistaken homonyms (right vs. write, foul vs. fowl, etc). Many of the activities explained vocabulary words that were found in the story itself.
The reading level of the story ranged from third to fourth grade when I did some online calculations. It seemed a bit easier, though, because the chapters are short and the pages are not crammed with small print.
Orphs of the Woodlands at Tangletree is a delightful app to add to our collection of educational programs.
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