Ooka Island is a reading adventure game. Geared for preschoolers, Ooka Island helps children become excellent readers by teaching them five essential skills for reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. It does this through short and simple games that follow and adapt to the child’s individual progress.
In Ooka Island, children are on a mission to help free the Ooka Elves from flying pigs, otherwise known as the the Mischievous Fliggs. They are accompanied by Auntie K and Zobot the robot who directs them on where to go around the island. As they play in different areas of the island, they earn virtual stickers, unlock items, earn Ooka Mist (Ooka Island currency), and get a chance to find missing books. For every five books they find, an Ooka Elf is freed.
There are nine games in the island. Eight games help children with phonemic awareness and phonics. The Cave of Sounds teaches children phonemic awareness and phonemes by encouraging children to listen to a sound prior to showing them the sound’s corresponding letter(s). Cake Factory, Bubbly Troubly, and Submarine Listening helps children associate sounds with letters or blends. Z-Doo encourages children to say the sounds out loud. Clumsy Wacky Moving Company shows children how to combine sounds to make a word. Alphabet Mountain helps children with letter recognition. Word Ball helps children differentiate between a word and a syllable.
Fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension are addressed in the Popcorn Library. There are a total of 85 missing books. When a book is found, it is immediately added to the library. Children will first read through the book with help from Auntie K and Zobot. Auntie K explains what is going on in the story and Zobot reads the words. After reading through it once, children play a pop the bubble game where they are tested with comprehension questions. Next, they go back and read the book again with Zobot narrating. Finally, they play a game that corresponds to their reading level. In Emergent Level 1, they play Seashell Words where they match a sound they hear with a word on the seashells. Then they play a card matching game with the same words they learned in the Seashell Word game. In Emergent Level 3, they select the correct sequence of events in the story and work on learning some antonyms. After collecting the first 5 books a new play option “Read” becomes available in the main menu (prior to the that only the Play option is available) allowing children to go the Popcorn Library directly instead of playing the game. In this mode, there are 3 options to read the book: Read with With Us (with Zobot and Auntie K), Read with Zobot, and Read By Myself.
I like that the games in Ooka Island are interesting and are neither too long so that the kids get bored or too short so they don’t grasp what is being taught. They are entertaining enough for children to want to come back and play them again and again. I love that there is also a time limit for both learning and play. After a few minutes of learning, children are given about 3 minutes of free play time where they can explore any part of the island. I also like that children get to unlock items as they play and earn Ooka Mist to purchase items to add to the playground. This gives them more incentive to come back and play and learn. I also like that children are not only taught how to read words but to understand what they are reading.. Finally, I like that there are weekly progress reports and worksheets to use off the app.
There are quite a few things I feel this app needs to make it worth its asking price, and I would love to see them on future updates. I would like to be able to customize the app for my child’s individual needs. I would like to be able to select a reading level or play level. I would also like to be able to choose target sounds and words to focus on. Forcing the child to start from the very beginning limits this app to pre-readers and very early readers. I think this app could be useful for those who have learned some sounds but still need help with others and with becoming fluent readers. These children need to start at their level or they would be bored and not be interested in this app at all. The app does adapt to the child so eventually my child was advanced to the next level. However, they only advanced her with the reading books. All the other activities on the island were still on the lower level and she was getting quite frustrated with seeing the same sounds over and over again, doing well with it, and still being stuck on that level. I believe the child earns a sticker every time s(he) passes a level, and it seems to take longer on some games than on others.
I would like to have different narrator voices for each of the characters in the book. Zobot as the narrator does not make sense in the emergent level books when Auntie K says “Listen to what Kayla says” and then you hear a male adult voice. Zobot also has an almost monotonous voice, making reading rather dull. I also Auntie K does not always have to explain everything to children, especially after they have passed the first 10 books or so. I would like the option to disable this feature in the Play mode to give children the opportunity to explain what they think is going on in the story and practice observation and deductive reasoning skills. I think it would be great of the same 3 reading options were made available in Play mode as they are in Read mode.
There is also a lot of loading and wait time every time you play a game in different parts of the island. There is no need to keep going back to the map before going to the next game or to keep repeating instructions at the beginning of the games. Instead, I would like an option to turn off the instructions after the child has played through the game at least once and already knows what to do. In the Pencil Playground, every time you get to an activity they always first ask “Do you want to play with X?” and then the child has to select yes or no. If they do select yes, the character plays with the item just once and for only a quick second or two. It would be better, faster, and more enjoyable for the child to just be able to point and click on an object to use it.
I would like children to be able to interact with the Ooka Elves they have freed and the pets they have bought. For example, there is a seesaw in Pencil Playground and it would be nice if they have one of the elves sit on it too The child’s character/avatar plays seesaw all by itself which looks, according to my daughter, really sad. When you unlock a pet, the app says you can play with it in Pencil Playground after you purchase it. Playing with it is simply letting it out of its house and following it around. You cannot pet it or do anything else with it. I would like to see the elves and pets be more interactive.
As I mentioned before, I like the weekly progress reports. However, I would find it more useful if it included a list of sounds and words that had been introduced and how well each one was mastered. This way parents and teachers can see what specific areas their child needs extra help with.
Finally, I do not like that you have to be online to play the app. Apps geared for children, specially educational apps, should always be playable offline or have an option to do so.
Overall, I think Ooka Island has a lot of good things to offer as a reading program. If you have child who is just learning how to read or is a struggling reader, you can check out their free trial to see if Ooka Island meets your needs.
Ooka Island Reading Programby Ooka Island, Inc.
Requirements: Compatible with iPad2Wifi-iPad2Wifi, iPad23G-iPad23G, iPhone4S-iPhone4S, iPadThirdGen-iPadThirdGen, iPadThirdGen4G-iPadThirdGen4G, iPhone5-iPhone5, iPodTouchFifthGen-iPodTouchFifthGen, iPadFourthGen-iPadFourthGen, iPadFourthGen4G-iPadFourthGen4G, iPadMini-iPadMini, iPadMini4G-iPadMini4G, iPhone5c-iPhone5c, iPhone5s-iPhone5s, iPadAir-iPadAir, iPadAirCellular-iPadAirCellular, iPadMiniRetina-iPadMiniRetina, iPadMiniRetinaCellular-iPadMiniRetinaCellular, iPhone6-iPhone6, iPhone6Plus-iPhone6Plus, iPadAir2-iPadAir2, iPadAir2Cellular-iPadAir2Cellular, iPadMini3-iPadMini3, iPadMini3Cellular-iPadMini3Cellular, iPodTouchSixthGen-iPodTouchSixthGen, iPhone6s-iPhone6s, iPhone6sPlus-iPhone6sPlus, iPadMini4-iPadMini4, iPadMini4Cellular-iPadMini4Cellular, iPadPro-iPadPro, iPadProCellular-iPadProCellular, iPadPro97-iPadPro97, iPadPro97Cellular-iPadPro97Cellular, iPhoneSE-iPhoneSE, iPhone7-iPhone7, iPhone7Plus-iPhone7Plus, iPad611-iPad611, iPad612-iPad612, iPad71-iPad71, iPad72-iPad72, iPad73-iPad73, iPad74-iPad74
Size: 758.23 MB