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Schoolhouse Review: Star Toaster

Star Toaster Review
My two oldest love to read but with my younger kiddos it’s a whole different story. So, I was excited to be part of this review and even more happy that my boys couldn’t wait to get started with reading Orphs of the Woodlands!

Company Name: Star Toaster: Orphs of the Woodlands

Review item: Orphs of the Woodlands first book: The Treasure of the HighTower

Who helped with this review: I had three helpers with this one: Brent-7th grade, Ethan-6th grade, Lance-4th grade. All boys struggle with reading.

What is Star Toaster: It’s a fun online reading program that encourages children (including my reluctant and struggling readers) to read a story about an orphaned gray squirrel. The story almost instantly captivated my boys. As the boys read pages and chapters they were able to unlock lessons in: math, science, language, vocabulary, thinking skills, life skills, character, and the arts. There are over 300 lesson in this program.

When you sign up you get a two month subscription for three children ($19.99). If your child(ren) need more than 2 months you can extend it for another 60 days for all students for only $6.99.

How it works: Once you have your account set up your child can log in and right away the fun begins. The first step is to fill out an ‘application’. This is where the boys were able to name the main character. Once the application was submitted they were ready to start on a reading adventure with their character being the star of the show!

With words like “Top Secret” or “Keep Out”, my boys were hooked real quick!
There are three steps included in this adventure:
  1. A Reading Adventure: read a fun 15 chapter story about a squirrel who fights against the evil Night Creatures and eventually finds himself taking care of a settlement of orphans.
  2. An Academic Treasure: Woven into the story are lessons. There are tips with how to remember things, memory tests, and reminders to “pay attention” <—pretty amazing stuff.
  3. Games: Your child earns gold stars which is the currency used. He/she will need gold stars to buy food, seeds, homes, land, etc. for the orphs.
Star Toaster Review 1
The first chapter introduces the the gray squirrel (which the child names) and how he came to be an orphan with no parents. The orphaned squirrel’s home is in a city called Ivythwaite and his adventure takes him to HighTower the city where many of the

The orphaned squirrel joins an underground group called W.A.K that battles against the Night Creatures. The Night Creatures are the bad guys. They are the ones terrorizing the towns and leaving mice orphaned.

The squirrel is excited when his application is approved and can’t wait for his first assignment. When he receives a package that has “Top Secret Highly Classified” he new immediately that it was from W.A.K. He tears it open only to his disappointment finds a book and a math book at that! The cover reads: Great Discoveries in Math . . . Open at Your Own Risk! This Book has Problems!

He tosses the book aside but throughout the week he continues to receive more books like The Unabridged Completely Complete Dictionary of Common Words and Not-So-Common Words, Scientific Discoveries that Have Been Discovered, Rigorous Rules of Great Grammar, and more. Because he was not interested in these treasures (that’s what I call our books) he stopped opening the packages altogether. Big mistake!

One night the The Brains of the Night Creatures discovers his hideout and finds the books. The Brains orders his followers to take the books and as he said, “We have his books and with them his knowledge.” One of the books that was taken was very important: The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of  HighTower After it Rose and Fell Again

With his books gone he realizes that he missed the opportunity to learn and become The Brains match! Thus begins his adventure to HighTower to find the treasure. And that’s just the first chapter!
Some neat features are:
  • Sound affects, your child will see an icon that he can click to hear (add a few examples)
  • Top Secret Spy files
  • Vocabulary Rollovers, simply roll over the word to see the definition
  • Disappearing ink!
  • Letter Pop-ups, click on the letter to open and read it.
and more!

As the child completes a chapter there are jobs (lessons) in the Woodlands. The lesson may contain a video, use online flashcards, or StarToaster’s unique Memorytyper. Gold stars are earned and needed to take care of the orphs.
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Parent Account: Here you can see what your kiddos have been up too, read the ‘book’ yourself, and test drive  the lessons. Star Toaster will send a detailed email of what your child has learned and what he will learn in the next chapter.
Star Toaster Review Parent Account 1
How we used Star Toaster: My boys were really excited to start Orphs in the Woodlands. At first they were hopping online daily. Now they log-in three times a week and I find this a much better pace for them. Before they were spending too much time (a good thing) on the computer.

Brent struggles with reading but was able to use Star Toaster independently. The vocabulary words helped him when he wasn’t sure if he read the word correctly. He simply hovered over the word to see the definition.

Ethan too was able to read most of it. He would at times sit in when I was helping Lance. Lance really tried to read this on his own but it worked out better when we would take turns.

The lessons for earning gold stars didn’t seem like ‘school’. There was a mix of lessons; some were more of review for my boys and other like the Latin and vocabulary lessons were not. My kids especially liked Prof. Forp’s math and science lessons. The kids thought he was funny.

My thoughts: I was happy to see my boys so enthusiastic about reading. I have a hard time getting them to pick up a book but with Star Toaster they were asking to read!

The lessons were great for review and some new learning. The site was easy to navigate and the account set-up painless. The companies customer service was super. Always quick to respond to any questions.

What I would have liked to see is more of the lessons (jobs) in audio, especially the flashcards and the Latin lessons. This would ensure that they are pronouncing the words correctly. Lastly a print button for the recipes would be nice.

Final thoughts: The boys really liked using this program and they all give it  a thumbs up!

I’d say this was a winner and we are looking forward to the next online book (love to get this in paper back!) from Orphs of the Woodlands.

Orphs in the Woodlands would also make a great summer reading program!
Star Toaster Review
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2 comments

  1. Hi Linda, Thank you for your wonderful review. LOVE READING YOUR BLOG! You have such a sweet family! Hope your readers are enjoying "Orphs of the Woodland." Those who complete the Free Trial are sent a 25% OFF promo code for the entire program. Many homeschoolers are using it to get ahead over the summer. Looking forward to reading more of your posts. YOU ROCK!

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  2. Thank you for stopping by!!!! My boys absolutely loved Orphs of the Woodlands and are anxiously waiting for the next one.

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