Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tiggly Words toys and app {Timberdoodle Review}

Learning to read is such an important task, but I personally believe it should only be an informal experience in the preschool years.  I'm sure I've made it perfectly clear that I don't do formal lessons during preschool, because I feel that these early years should be used for instilling good habits, nurturing a love of learning, and approaching "early academic skills" through fun, natural activities.  For preschoolers in today's technological society, the iPad (or any tablet) is an activity that naturally attracts and interests them, which is why I'm really excited to share this review of Tiggly Words as a fun alternative for developing phonological awareness.

Tiggly Words Review

Tiggly Words

Tiggly Words consists of five vowel manipulatives with silicone touch points, a carrying bag and access to four free learning apps designed for the Tiggly Word toys.  The toys and apps are compatible with most iPads and Kindle devices.  Access to the apps is included in the package.  I just shared our review of Tiggly Math, and it was a great experience for my preschooler.  Tiggly Words was no different!  

Tiggly words is designed for children 4-8 years old.  I've been using them with Eleanor (3) who knows her letters and their primary sounds but isn't ready for actual reading instruction.  Emory (6) is an emerging reader and uses it occasionally.  Timberdoodle describes Tiggly Words as being able to help children recognize phonemes, construct sounds and learn words, and I find this accurate.

Tiggly Doctor - Act like a doctor and learn short and long vowel sounds
Tiggly Submarine - Explore words and spelling patterns undersea
Tiggly Tales - compose stories by completing words
Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen - Bake letter and word cookies with Elmo and Cookie Monster

The focus, obviously, is on vowels, their sounds and their relationship with words.  This helps children focus on the most challenging aspect of reading, and I suspect also because it is the simplest way to create this types of toy for tablets.

Right from the start, Eleanor was enamored with Sesame Street and baking cookies.  Bake with Elmo, and you can create letter cookies to decorate.  If you work with Cookie Monster, you are given consonants and you spell the word with a vowel.  Then you add food coloring, mix it up and it turns into a picture representation, or a cookie word.  Cookie Monster starts out with CVC words, but they do get more complex.

Tiggly Words Review

Eleanor really enjoys the Tiggly toys, and requests them fairly frequently.  Her favorite Tiggly Word apps are Sesame Street, probably because it's the "easiest" for her, and Tiggly Doctor, because she gets to take care of patients.  I like that she pays careful attention to which way she places the letters, though the apps don't seem to require the correct orientation in order to recognize the letter.  I think it should, but I also noticed that it occasionally reads a letter incorrectly, apparently dependent upon how the touch points are pressed to the screen.  Eleanor already knows her letters/sounds so she recognizes when it reads wrong, but it might be confusing to young children, and I think it's important that parents are involved in the process to help explain anything like this.  Even with this rare snafu, it doesn't negate the awesomeness of these apps.

Tiggly Words Review

The apps are too easy for Emory, but he thinks Tiggly Tales is funny.  You are given the consonants for CVC words and fill them in with the vowels.  He can make silly pictures like mermaid pigs (a pig with a fin), or use a fan to blow things around, and other goofy things that make little boys giggle.  Even though it's not really challenging for him, I do think the apps are good reinforcement for young readers.  Especially when you interchange vowels to make words like cub or cob or cab, but see nonsense words like cib get bounced out.  These apps help children see the influence of vowels and the relationship between words in a fun way, without the formality of lessons or workbooks.

Tiggly Words Review

Final Thoughts

Timberdoodle has chosen wisely by including Tiggly Words in their Pre-K Curriculum.  It is an excellent tool for mixing play (the iPad) with informal academics (pre-reading skills) in a fun and engaging way.  Tiggly apps are unique with their combined use of the touch-screen and manipulatives, and while I wouldn't consider them a primary tool for teaching, they are great for allowing children to explore concepts in a creative way.  If you are selective about the screen time you allow your preschoolers, I think the Tiggly apps are a good choice.  They go beyond early learning skills, and allow children to to work on fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, critical thinking, and so much more.  I mentioned this in my Tiggly Math review, and I'll say it here too--I'm so pleased with these tablet toys and their corresponding apps, that I'm adding these to our regular Preschool Curriculum choices {I don't require "school" at this age--I give her choices from a variety of developmentally appropriate activities} and we want Tiggly Shapes too! 

Tiggly Words Review

Links to Explore

Now that you're more interested in learning more about Tiggly and Timberdoodle, here are a few links to check out!

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