Disclosure: This product was sent to us free of charge for the purpose of this review. However, as per my disclaimer, this review represents our honest opinion of the product.
Product: Tiggly Words & Shapes
Price: £24.99 per set
Age Range: 4-8 years for Tiggly Words, 3-7 years for Tiggly Maths
Manufacturer’s Description: Tiggly Words – Designed for children aged 4-to-8 years old, Tiggly Words is the company’s first learning system for early literacy. Tiggly Words is a set of five vowel toys (a, e, i, o, u) designed by educators to interact with Tiggly’s three new iPad apps: Tiggly Submarine, Tiggly Tales and Tiggly Doctor. Learning language skills is an exciting milestone for every child, and Tiggly Words focuses on helping preschoolers recognize phonemes, construct sounds and learn words
Tiggly Maths – Each Tiggly Maths set contains 5 sleek counting toys, safe for your child and your tablet, that physically interact with three parent and educator approved learning apps for the iPad, including Tiggly Chef, Tiggly Addventure, and Tiggly Cardtoons. Inspired by the classic Cuisenaire rods used in Montessori classrooms, Tiggly Maths is a revolutionary math learning toy for kids in the digital age. Lightweight and easily grasped in small hands, Tiggly Maths helps young learners understand the relationships between numbers concretely and spatially.
Review: We were given a set of Tiggly Maths and a set of Tiggly Words to review, and to be honest I have quite mixed feelings about these ones. Lydia loves her Tiggly cushion, but the two sets have definitely had a lukewarm reception from both girls, although they do have their good points too.
The basic premise of these toys are that they are small plastic and rubber shapes that you can press onto your iPad screen to interact with the Tiggly apps. There are three apps per set; you can download the maths apps for free from the app store, and get redeem codes with your set purchase for the words apps. Each app can either be interacted with via the toys or using your fingers & multitouch, so you can actually play each app without the toys.
Tiggly words comes with five different colour letters – the five vowels. The apps mostly involve filling in gaps in words, either to explore what words you can create by changing the vowel in the middle, or to complete words with specific vowels. The letters come with a handy drawstring bag, and they work by having small rubber dots on the underside of each letter in different patterns, which allows the app to recognise which letter is which.
We weren’t keen on the fact you can put letters on the screen anyway you like, including upside down, and still have them work – it would be better if you had to get them (at least mostly!) the right way up on the screen. Another downside is that it is all American English and there are some words in there that Georgie just wouldn’t use, and some that are spelt or pronounced “wrong” for us here in Britain. Not great for an educational app.
The Tiggly Maths set comes with five toys & another drawstring storage bag. The bags are great as the girls know the toys belong inside, and return them into the bag when they finish playing with them. Each toy represents a different number, from one to five, and as with the letters each number is a different bright colour.
The three different number games are quite fun, although we had some problems getting the apps to recognise the numbers consistently and Georgie got frustrated.
With both sets, the shapes are visually attractive to kids and easy to for them to hold. The idea of using toys like these to interact with the screen is exciting for the children to start with but they quite often ended up frustrated and resorted to playing with their fingertips instead.
The apps themselves can be quite fun, if a little tedious at times, but the words are sometimes a bit odd and there are some niggles in the gameplay that end up frustrating the kids. They aren’t always particularly intuitive to play and there don’t seem to be many instructions to help you along.
Georgie and Lydia both do enjoy the games and the toys, and have asked to play with them a few times, but they often stop using the toys and switch to using their fingers instead. At £24.99 per set, the two sets come to nearly £50 and that is a lot of money for kids toys, even if they are educational. We give these just 3 stars. It’s a great idea but the execution needs some work, and the apps need to be better localised for the British market.