This toy/app combo puts five vowel letter toys into kids' hands to use with three free apps that teach reading. The first two apps -- Tiggly Story Maker and Tiggly Submarine -- are out now. The third one -- Tiggly Doctor -- is coming later in June.
The apps let kids explore word construction, word families, spelling, and rhyming. The toys interact with iPads whenever the child places a vowel on the surface, making these reading games have a hands-on component. The apps have fun themes, including playing doctor, writing plays and songs, and exploring the ocean.
Tiggly Storymaker App
The Tiggly Story Maker
app does a great job of making the spelling of words fun. Kids see a workspace with two consonants that have an empty space between them. By placing one of the five vowel toys on the screen's empty space, the corresponding vowel appears on the screen. Players experiment with the five vowels to see whether they have created a word. After pronouncing the consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC), if the combination creates a word that can be represented by an object, the object magically appears on the screen along with a silly animation. If the CVC combination isn't a word, a spring appears under the vowel, and it flies out off the screen. After creating a series of words with objects on the screen, kids can animate them with their fingers and record their own story video. [Note, if you don't own the toy, you can play this app with your finger. It costs $2.99.]
Tiggly Submarine App
The Tiggly Submarine app provides four undersea activities to teach short vowel sounds. Kids use their fingers to move a submarine to four locations housing the learning games. When visiting the turtle's house, kids tap on his door, using one of the vowel toys to have it open, revealing the turtle doing something that uses that vowel in a word. For example, after tapping the "i," the door opens to show the turtle opening a "gift." This ocean has an elevator that houses the next activity about tapping a vowel to the door, which opens to reveal words that start with the tapped vowel. In the third activity with an octopus, kids create words with short vowel sounds at either the beginning or the middle of the word. And in the fourth activity, when the submarine encounters a cave, it extends a vacuum to extract characters stuck in the cave. The names of the characters have the short vowel sound tapped in their name. Plus, the random tapping of the vowels in this ocean scene creates vowel-shaped fish. [Note, if you don't own the toy, you can play this app with your finger. It costs $2.99.]
The vowel toys work seamlessly with the two apps already released. When kids tap them to the surface of their tablet, something happens. The key to whether this toy is worth its $29.95 investment is the apps.
Tiggly Story Maker is a great way to interest kids in words. When my kids were young, we did similar activities, using magnetic letter blocks on our refrigerator. This app makes the creation process so much more fun because of the animations that appear when you succeed at creating a real word. And the ability to create story videos is just icing on this otherwise delicious spelling cake.
The Tiggly Submarine app is good, but it isn't as engaging as the Tiggly Storymaker app. Each of the four activities works from an educational perspective, but the repetition gets old quickly.
We have seen an early build of the Tiggly Doctor app and so far we are impressed. We will update the rating of this tech toy review, once the Tiggly Doctor app releases.
Tiggly Words is a fun toy to get young children interested in learning words. The physical component brings your child into the learning experiences in a hands-on way. Choose this tech toy for kids who are tactile and have trouble sitting still. The toys give them something to entice them into the learning experience.
This Tiggly Words tech toy review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.