Boo loves to read and was very excited when we were offered a years subscription to Star Toaster's Orphs of The Woodlands. It's a really cool online reading adventure. A regular subscription is for two months, and honestly Boo enjoyed it so much she was done way before the end of two months. It's a good job we were offered a longer time thought because my six year old is now insisting I help him work through it, and it might take me a lot longer than 2 months to find the time to do it with him.
Boo actually worked on this by herself. She's in 6th grade and found it really fun so because of this I asked her to write me a review.
Orphs of the Woodlands is a story about a squirrel. I can't tell you his name because you get to name him yourself. My squirrel was called 'Tonks' (yes I'm a Harry Potter fan). The story you read is his diary. The story starts with an invitation to play.
You then fill out a questionnaire and choose your character name. The main character of the story is squirrel who is an Orph. An Orph is a orphaned creature and throughout the story the main character (you) starts to look after other Orphs and protect them from the Night creatures (the bad guys). To do this you have to earn gold stars which act as currency. After reading each chapter you have to complete jobs. The jobs are vocabulary, math, art, and other educational things. To complete a job you have to answer questions in the subject. Every ten questions you get right you earn an extra gold star per question, until you reach the maximum number of stars per question. You win stars to take care of your Orphs, these stars allow you to buy crops, fire, energy, food, medicine, clothing, and land at Ivythwaite (your old home). After you have completed all of jobs for that chapter you can then complete projects to help lower the cost of gold stars for each Orph, as you have to provide for each Orph you are protecting. By reducing costs you can therefore buy more land and build more orphanages. An example of projects are planting wheat for food, or herbs for medicine. Each project costs money but less than buying food or medicine.
It's possible to go back and re-read chapters but not to complete the jobs, so you want to make sure to earn as much money as you can. During the story you also help fight against the night creatures by taking care of the Orphs.
My favorite part of the story is when you get the chance to look after a baby chipmunk 'MufFum'. His father was a spy who was killed by the night creatures, and Tonks finds him and looks after him until he can find him a home. You may notice that the second F in MufFum is capitalized that is because chipmunks don't like following the rules and so they put capital letters whenever they want.
Most of the lessons are from when Tonks visits the Professor Forp. First he asks him if he can earn gold stars for cleaning his messy cottage but the Professor replies that he will give him a better deal and pays him in knowledge instead of gold stars.
My favorite character in the story is Ellie the flying squirrel she sells nuts and berries and helps to take care of MufFum, other characters help too.
Throughout the book there is lots of facts and recipes. I really enjoyed making some of the cool recipes. They are all really healthy and good for your brain. My favorite was Nutty Nut Bread. I made all by myself and everyone really liked it. It seemed to taste like a healthier version of Banana Bread.
There are a lot of things to learn throughout the story. The only thing I was sad about was that it ended too soon!
I liked that this really kept Boo's attention. This is one review that I have not had to chase her or remind her to do. In fact I was a little shocked when she came to tell me that she had finished it. She was a little disappointed that she couldn't start the next book straight away.
I think this would be a great summer project for any child. It's recommended for grades 4-7 and is a lot of reading. However, that's not a problem here. It does take me a while with Captain as he can't read well enough yet and I have to do all the reading for him. Even Jam is working on it. I didn't make room for him to do it in his schedule so he has added it to his free time hobbies. It will take him longer to do it, but he's enjoying it too.
I like that through out the book they have places where vocabulary words are highlighted and you can click on them if you are unsure of the meaning. These vocabulary words are also reviewed during the 'jobs' with flashcards and games where you have to match the word to the meaning. There is a lot of emphasis on education but also on character traits and being reliable and honest.
Boo told me not to share anything else about the story. She started without really knowing anything about it and said she found it more interesting that way. In fact all she wanted me to write was;
"It's a good story, at the end of each chapter you get to do fun games to earn gold coins. You use those coins to adopt 'Orphs' and help them survive'. It's great fun! However I didn't think that would cut it as a review so I had to pump her for more information (see above).
Make sure you check out the free trial of the program to see if you like it!
You really need to check out the other reviews on this program. So many different grades tried this program and I know everyone really enjoyed it!
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