STEM Skills targeted: Spatial skills, math, computing skills
Recommended age: 2-8
Tiggly produces a range of educational gaming accessories for the iPad and leading Android tablets that help to bring apps into the physical world. We’re starting to see a lot more of these toys that bridge the gap between the screen and physical play so this is definitely a company to keep an eye on.
Our kids are the first generation to be growing up with smart phones, iPads and other tablets and it’s not clear yet the impact this will have on their future brain development and education.
There is a school of thought that believes that children should not have access to electronic devices at all and it’s certainly wise to limit screen time in young children, but it’s also impossible to deny how much children love playing educational apps and how much they can learn from doing so.
My children have learned new songs and stories, practiced writing letters, learned about shapes and gained a whole load of new skills from playing on their tablet but I still can’t help but feel guilty that they’re interacting with a screen instead of playing with real toys.
This is why toys like Tiggly are such a genius idea. They are physical tangible toys that can be played with just like any other toy but they use the clever programming and capabilities of the iPad to really enhance the play and turn it into a true interactive experience.
It’s difficult to explain without demonstrating an example so just have a look through some of the Tiggly products and watch the videos to get an idea of just how amazing these toys are:
Tiggly words is a set of tactile soft foam vowel letters that work together with the Tiggly Words app for iPad, iPad mini, Kindle HD and other leading Android tablets.
Children can learn to spell words by placing the letters on top of the tablet to create words displayed within the app and learn about language including short and long vowel sounds, phonics, nouns and verbs and word building.
The app teaches children to spell in a really intuitive and rewarding way. For example the app might display a ‘b’ and ‘g’ and when the child places the ‘u’ letter piece on the tablet, the word “bug” is spelled and a picture of a bug appears on the screen.
The letters can also be used with another 3 apps: Tiggly Doctor to learn about long and short vowel sounds, Tiggly Submarine where you move a submarine around under the sea and learn about spelling patterns, and Tiggly Tales, which is a word building game.
This is a really engaging, fun toy for pre-schoolers and young kids who are just starting to learn about building words, as well as older kids who would benefit from a fun way to improve their spelling.
Tiggly math is inspired by the Cuisenaire rods that have been used by educators to explain basic math concepts for many years, especially in Montessori schools.
Kids often struggle with math because they find it too abstract to imagine. Using these physical representations of numbers helps them to visualize the problem and solve it in a fun and intuitive way.
Tiggly math contains 5 foam toys which are basically counting rods from one to five. Kids can use these pieces together with the accompanying three math games to turn math into a fun, tactile, multi-sensory experience.
The apps include Tiggly Cardtoons, Tiggly Chef and Tiggly Addventure. These apps were designed by education experts to teach core math concepts such as counting, addition, and numberline in a fun way.
While Tiggly Words and Tiggly math are aimed at kids aged 3+, Tiggly Shapes is suitable for much younger children and is recommended for ages 18 months – 4 years.
Tiggly Shapes includes 4 tactile soft shape learning toys – a square, circle, triangle and star. There are 3 fun learning apps that can be used to play with these shapes including drawing and stamping and creating animals from the shapes, to build motor skills and spatial skills and improve language and creativity.
My kids love creative apps and they can spend hours playing with virtual stickers and stamps and coming up with new pictures so even though they’re a little old for the recommended age, I know they’d love playing with Tiggly Shapes too – it’s a fun and creative open-ended play experience.
I think all the Tiggly toys have great potential for learning and the company is sure to come out with more new and innovative toys and apps in the future. If you’d like to give the apps a go before buying the toys, they’re all free to download and can also be used in “finger” mode without the accessories.