Give the gift of reading this holiday

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Ooka Island

What if you could give a gift that kids would actually play with during the year? Now, what if that gift could also help them improve their ability to read?

According to Statistics Canada, nearly half of Canadians aged 16 to 65 fall below the minimum reading level required to function well at work and in daily living (IALLS, 2005).

Those are some staggering numbers. Nearly half of us fall below the minimum reading level.

If you have a child between pre-K and Grade 2 on your gift giving list this year, consider gifting the Ooka Island app.

Yes, it’s an app you ultra-cool parent/grandparent that is keeping up with the changing times.

At four years old, reading on her own is still a while off, but she is getting used to her ABC's, and the sounds they make. I appreciate that the app doesn't just continue on without her. Photo copyright, Sheri Landry.

At four years old, reading on her own is still a while off, but she is getting used to her ABC’s, and the sounds they make. I appreciate that the app doesn’t just continue on without her. We received some of the books from the app from the creators of the app and she was excited to hold the same books that she was reading in the app. Photo copyright, Sheri Landry.

But, it’s not just a reading app. It’s a game that your child plays while they learn. As a matter of fact, learning to read is a by-product of the game. Imagine taking some of their iPad time and using it for good.

Ooka Island is built on 25 years of research and was created by Dr. Kay MacPhee, a literacy researcher, lifelong educator and fellow Canadian. In 2008, Kay joined forces with Jim Barber, a teacher and author to create Ooka Island. Throughout the game, kids can rescue books from the Glass-bottom boat. Jim created these 85 books specifically for Ooka Island and as the reader’s ability increases, the reading level of the book gradually increases until kids are reading chapter books.

While learning the five foundations of reading, kids spend time on Ooka Island where they play the hero. They work to rescue missing books and elves, and they complete tasks to help the elves on Ooka Island. There are a number of different mini-games in the app so kids aren’t repeating the same game over and over.

At seven, our daughter has improved her reading through this app. She now tries to read chapter books and has become better at sounding out words she doesn't understand. We received some of the books from the game from Ooka Island and she immediately claimed the two chapter books in the set. Photo copyright, Sheri Landry.

At seven, our daughter has improved her reading through this app. She now tries to read chapter books and has become better at sounding out words she doesn’t understand. We received some of the books from the game from the creators of Ooka Island and she immediately claimed the two chapter books in the set. Photo copyright, Sheri Landry.

Parents can sign up to receive a weekly update on their child’s progress that includes information like amount of time spent on the app, books read and levels completed.

You can read my first post about Ooka Island and here is our second update.

My oldest and youngest are both still playing Ooka Island. The amount of minutes in a week fluctuates for both of them but they enjoy playing it.

My youngest, at age 4, is starting to recognize letters by how they look and the sound they make. She loves the ‘free play’ time she gets in the app so she can go to the Pencil Playground and see all of the items she bought with her Ooka Mist at the Mist Mart (she earns Ooka Mist by completing games).

My oldest, at age 7, is doing well with the whole game. Her reading in school is improving and she is sounding larger words out now. As she has progressed through the various games, I noticed they changed. Some games added on a new component to them, while others increase in their complexity to match her increased knowledge and keep her entertained.

Both of our girls have realized that the game will do new things as they progress and they are always excited to show us what has changed when a new experience opens up.

I am impressed with how the game progresses and slows down in relation to how my daughter’s are doing on a particular level. The game doesn’t just go on without them. It adjusts to make sure they understand what they are learning, then it proceeds.

Do you know someone between pre-K and Grade 2 who could use this app? Consider gifting it to them this Christmas.

gift buttonI am proud to work with Ooka Island on this sponsored post.

Sheri Landry
Sheri publishes, and writes at This Bird’s Day where she shares all of the thoughts in her head without the voices. Sticking mainly with content for Canadians, Sheri shares family stories, product information and anything that fits into her (and her family’s) daily activities.
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4 comments… add one
  • Elena Jan 1, 2016, 10:08 am

    I’d really like my daughter to try Ooka Island. She’s struggling with her reading and she responds well to computer programs.

  • Soozle Dec 21, 2015, 10:21 am

    The gift of reading is very important, I believe! It may not be as well liked as the hottest toy, but far more beneficial

  • nicolthepickle Dec 14, 2015, 1:23 pm

    I’ve been looking at this app a lot lately. My daughter is struggling a little to read and I think this would help immensely.

  • heidi c. Dec 13, 2015, 6:39 pm

    My little guys are just learning how to read so this would be a great app to use with them.

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