My children are not really the glued-to-the-iPad types. Which is good, because they don’t have iPads. They were both given Hudls at Christmas and tend to use them on high days and holidays. When they do get used, I tend to stick to apps that have a educational bent to them, or apps recommended by sites such as the Good App Guide, so I know they are developed with kids rather than money-making as their priority.
We are currently on the third week of the summer holidays. I am flagging a little, but our reward charts are proving a worthy investment, making sure we have some outdoor time every day and rewarding good behaviour, a little reading and the summer maths homework, some of which can be done on their “iPads”. They were further delighted last week with the arrival of a batch of Tiggly products that needed rigorous testing, and have been applying themselves wholeheartedly to the task of blending real and digital learning with Tiggly Apps.
Tiggly is such a cute sounding name- apparently a blend of the words ‘tickle’ and ‘giggly’. And it’s a cute product too. The apps work in conjunction with physical products- a series of brightly coloured and very tactile shapes, letters or number bars- to make learning a 3D experience. Endorsed by Fundamentally Children, Tiggly products are a great way of developing and supporting the Early Years Learning children receive in nurseries and schools. There are three sets of “shapes” come in their own drawstring bag and each set works in tandem with three different apps, which are free to download when you buy each Tiggly set.
Tiggly Math (ages 3-7)
My first, admittedly petty, issue is the use of the word Math rather than maths. I am obviously not the only pedant in my house as both my girls remarked on it too. By far the runaway success in our house, the Tiggly Math apps have really kept my girls (5 and 7) busy. They have raced through the levels of Tiggly Chef- the stand-out app from their perspective- and are loving being able to record their own voices and commentary on recipes they have made up. They happily count up the ingredients going in to chef’s latest crazy recipe and love his French accent.
Tiggly Addventure was very intuitive, The Girls quickly establishing the need to use the blocks in series to help Tiggly on his journey across bridges and up trees, sequencing the numbers to avoid various pitfalls. It’s an excellent tool for reinforcing principles of addition and ways-to-make-numbers, as well as times tables, but didn’t engage my 7-year-old as much as my 5-year-old.
The third maths app Tiggly Cardtoons uses mathematical knowledge to bring stories and characters to life. It’s essentially an app that teaches children to count, or helps them in the early stages of their counting journey with colourful graphics and funny creatures. My girls have tried it but felt it was for “littler children”.
Tiggly Shapes (2-5)
I thought when I saw the shapes that we would be unlikely to use these apps- they are aimed at the bottom end of our age range and shapes are really well consolidated as a concept for my girls. I was quite surprised by how much Dimples loves using them though. Tiggly Stamp in particular has kept her entertained- the shape creating a random item against a backdrop that she can arrange as she chooses. She has created zoos and winter wonderlands and is really enjoying it.
Similarly the simple idea of using shapes and then turning them into creatures has kept my budding artist very busy. I love that the details you add are animated, so legs wiggle, wings flap and moustaches twitch. I confess I have wiled away a happy half-hour with Tiggly Draw too. It’s a shame it wasn’t clearer that you could change the colour combination- I only pressed the pixellated corner out of interest and discovered this accidentally, yet it makes such a significant difference. My one caveat would be that because there is a picture-taking option, you need to keep an eye on device-memory!
We had a lot of teething issues with Tiggly Safari- where you match the shape shown on screen and it becomes an animal. The screen pixellated frequently, and about half the time we are unable to see the animal created from the shape, though the app tells you what it is and plays the accompanying noise. Frustrating but I presume it is an issue specific to our Android Device rather than the app.
I also found that you had to be quite specific with the way round that you placed some of the shapes on the screen, otherwise it did not recognise them.
Tiggly Words (4-8)
I had very limited access to the Tiggly Words apps: only Tiggly Doctor was available in the Google Play Store. And to be honest it creeped me out a bit. The strong American accents, the use of words like ‘swab’ ‘benumb’ (is that even a word?) and ‘lather’, I didn’t feel it was geared to the British market. That said, Dimples likes finding the right letter to create the word and obviously loved the slightly gory nature of the app- picking worms from puss-filled bumps on patients’ heads? Not for the weak-stomached!
- The concept is a brilliant one. The combination of tangible objects and digital learning really reinforce the learning that they already have, and the apps help further consolidate that learning, as well as expanding on it.
- The apps are relatively intuitive and easy for children to use with minimal parental input for the older reaches of the age brackets.
- I definitely had some app-device issues: I imagine that the iPad would be the best device to enjoy these tools with. Our Hudl didn’t recognise some of the shapes- the number 1 block and the triangle specifically- unless they were a particular way around. The Safari App in particular was clunky and hard to use. Nor are all of the Apps available in both Apple and Google Play stores.
- I feel that the apps themselves could be edited to better suit the British market, particularly the words apps where the language and learning styles don’t necessarily cross over.
- The age-ranges are a very good guide: 5-year-old Dimples is loving everything but 7-year-old LBG pretty much only plays the Chef game, so if you are thinking of buying any of these I’d pitch it to the lower end of the spectrum.
- Speaking of cost: the UK RRP for each Tiggly set is £24.95, which includes a free download of the related apps. (Each app can be purchased independently and does work without the shapes, and some are currently free.) It’s the sort of cost that says “birthday or Christmas gift from family or close friend” to me, or a holiday purchase perhaps.
- Where to buy: Tiggly Shapes, Tiggly Words, Tiggly Math are all available on Amazon, as well as Currys and the Apple Store. Most of the Apps are available in the Apple, Google and Amazon stores.
- For more reading about Tiggly apps: Being Mrs C wrote about expanding the digital world into the real; Fundamentally Children asks do you learn with your hands; Cat’s Yellow Days reviewed Tiggly Words, Shapes and Math.
Tiggly launches in the UK on 24th July 2015: tune in to QVC for a special launch event at 9am to see the apps in action.
*Disclosure: I was sent the sets, as well as access to the apps, for the purpose of writing this review. I have also been compensated for my time. All opinions and images are our own.*
Edited to include:
Fundamentally Children and Tiggly were unaware of the issues I mentioned in relation to using the shapes/numbers on an Android device and I am working with them to resolve this issue.
Tiggly are also keen to change the Math packaging to reflect an English market, and are planning to create a British English version of Words as soon as they can.