Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ooka Island - REVIEW

Created by a leading reading researcher in the U.S., Dr. Kay MacPhee*, Ooka Island was born out of a project that originally started out of a need in the 60's for her own child who was hard of hearing.  She found a strong correlation between speaking and reading, and put her ideas to work.  More recently, the idea came to incorporate technology and engage a new generation in a format that is familiar and appealing to them, and to be able to reach them at a younger age.   The methodology is rigorous with 6,698 skills to master at 75% to complete the game.  There are more than 80 hours of activities to complete.

The program is a self contained, web based application geared towards children from ages 3 to 7 that is compatible with both Mac and PC computers.  This format was chosen to protect young children from having to be online and deal with safety issues, pop ups and other hazards of being online and visiting a website.  As a child plays the games, they incorporate the original Eye/Ear Method that is the foundation of Dr. MacPhee's work.

As they go through each level, there is a set pattern for them to follow with work, practice, and "free play".  A child can stop at any point during the play and the program will pick up where they left off. 


The Ooka Island team didn't want to focus solely on screen time and offers printable workbook activities and downloadable songs as well as motivational tools and other great information to help parents and teachers utilize this program to its fullest potential.  The "Lighthouse" is the page for parents and teachers to track progress, print reports and check up on their students' progress and time spent playing. 

From the Ooka Island website:

This learn-to-read program is Ooka-riffic!

The Ooka Island Learn-to-Read Adventure offers adaptive instruction, a narrated e-Reader, and real-time progress reports. Young learners play and learn in a safe, 3D virtual world and take part in a heroic quest!
The program features an adaptive learning algorithm called READirectTM and ensures skill mastery in the five foundations of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.
Here is the Ooka-mazing news!
5 year olds are breaking into reading after just 8 hours
4 year olds are breaking into reading after 13 hours
Children that complete the program are reading at the 2nd Grade level


Homeschool and Home Editions
$12.95 per student
$19.95 per family (up to 4 students)

$124.95 per student
$149.95 per family (up to 4 students)

School Edition provides and annual license, per student
$10 per student with a District subscription of 500+ students
$15 per student for a school with 31-500 students
$20 per student for less than 30 students

All of the Books are available for purchase through the website as well.

 30% off  Special through this blog through June 1, 2013

Personal thoughts:

In our house, we have a wide range of reading abilities and skills and interests.  Our family is a video game loving group.  We have a 4 year old that was my intended student, but I was pleasantly surprised by a bit older "reluctant reader" who was enthusiastic and excited by the game from the moment he heard the songs when I first installed the program on my computer.  He partnered with the 4 year old and they played as a team.  I was honestly very skeptical about the play being anything more than a chance to have screen time and a reason to play on mom's computer.  I was quite surprised to find them practicing sounds together at various times when NOT playing at the computer.  I hear them coaching each other through the activities and games, and correcting each other whenever possible.  I am seeing a MAJOR boost in the confidence of my reluctant reader and my little guy is becoming more interested in reading words rather than picture books.  The catchy little tunes have made it a familiar part of our home very quickly. 

While I am still a book lover at heart, I am glad that researchers and leaders in education are finding new methods to reach students and help them learn.  I have seen how learning styles and methods can impact a student, and this program helped me see that technology isn't always something to be wary of.  I was able to reach a student in my house who hasn't been all that enthusiastic about learning to read until now.  This program, for whatever reason was able to pique an interest that I haven't been able to do yet with other programs for this particular student.  I had hoped to get a picture of my reading team, but Mr. Reluctant Reader was a bit too shy about it and asked me to not do so.  I can tell you though, that the sight of his face when things finally connected that had challenged him before has been priceless.

Find Ooka Island at the following links for more information:

YouTube Channel

Facebook Page


Blog- Village Voices

Contact Us page

*Should you want to check her credentials, they are listed here.



  1. Great review and I'm glad you are seeing positive results!!