Orphs of the Woodlands~a Multifaceted Homeschool Crew Review


Every now and then our Schoolhouse Crew Reviews are a bit different than just the 4Rs. Orphs of the Woodlands by Star Toaster shared their online educational resource and game The Treasure of HighTower. It incorporates some typical subjects, but in a rather unusual and engaging way. We were given a promotional subscription. Regular subscriptions last for two months and are accessible for up to three children.

The game is presented as a story. As students read the story, vocabulary words are built into it naturally. They complete tasks (including math!) to earn "gold" coins which are used to purchase land or food and adopt "orphs" which they have to take care of by completing additional tasks. The goal as students progress is to rescue orphs. If the student doesn't care for their orphs, they disappear!

Math, science, art, language, vocabulary, thinking skills, life skills, and even character lessons are woven into the story. In fact, there are over 300 lessons in the 15 chapters of The Treasure of HighTower! Chapters did not have to be completed at once, though my daughter often tried to do so. My son read several pages at a time of the story, completing tasks as presented. Even videos were imbedded into the story as it unfolded. 

One of my son's favorite features was the interactive parts of the story. He was able to open letters, apply secret ink, and read hidden messages. He was motivated by the gold stars, too as he wanted to earn and be able to care for more and more orphs. 

Recipes are featured in the lessons. My son Joseph wanted to make the Nutty Nut Bread from chapter two as soon as he saw it, but we didn't have all of the ingredients on hand at the time. After making the necessary purchases, he was unable to go back to the second lesson to follow the recipe. A quick email to customer support provided me with instructions on how to access every recipe from my parent account. The parent account allows you to view lessons and click on various components to view student's progress. Recipes are shared in the life skills category.

Star Toaster even shared this recipe on their Facebook page, too. Click here if you'd like to try making it.

After one of the Schoolhouse Crew leaders shared that one of their older children was benefitting from using this program, I encouraged my ninth grader to give it a try. She shared about her experience: "I enjoyed Orph because it was like reading a story. In each chapter there are highlighted vocabulary words and simple math lessons. The story is very entertaining, so it keeps your attention the whole time. After you finish reading a chapter, you get to do some games/jobs. The games have information just like you read in the story. If you win one of the games, you earn golden stars to take care of your orphs. If you don't finish all of the jobs you won't have enough gold stars to care for your orph's. Compared with her younger brother, she worked through the story much quicker. Emily made the moon cookies pictured below.

Marlene Mesler, a homeschooling mom of six and one of the team members who created this program shared "A mother who gives her children a homeschool education gets a whole new education herself." In addition to the parent section and email support, we received progress reports in emails, too.

They are now offering a free trial! When you try this, don't be surprised if your child begins quoting Shakespeare or requesting cake a la mode!

Star Toaster Review

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