Tiggly takes app developing to a completely new level. They pride themselves on creating developmentally appropriate apps and companion manipulatives for children–a difficult task to accomplish. Each app they create corresponds to a group of learning manipulatives that children place on the iPad screen: letters, numbers, or shapes. While the manipulatives are a definitive bonus as they incorporate fine motor skills, therefore deepening the level of understanding, their apps can also be played without them.
Tiggly Doctor is unlike any app I’ve ever seen. It manages to incorporate vowel sounds while introducing children to a host of verbs, thereby increasing students’ vocabulary. An app that focuses on these skills sounds like a total bore. However, the app developers have found a highly entertaining way to incorporate these skills.
Doctor begins with three patients in a waiting room. Two of them are afflicted
with a variety of ailments. Players become the doctor and choose one patient. The patient with the ailment is called back to the examining room. Once there, an exam is performed and the doctor diagnoses the problem. Diagnoses include a worm coming out of a patient’s head, a broken rib, a broken wrist, or really bad teeth to name a few. Then, the app presents the player with a word that is missing the vowels. Players use the hints the app provides to fill in the missing vowels. If the child has the manipulatives, they place the correct vowel on the screen. Children without manipulatives can simply drag the correct vowel into place. Once the word has been completed, the child is able to see and hear the verb that has been created. Verbs range from CVC pattern words to multisyllabic words. Another great thing about this app is that the patients and ailments are limited, but the verbs are seemingly unlimited. For example, the child may see the man with the worm stuck in his head several times. However, the verb that’s used might be: pull, remove, extract, eliminate, or flick allowing children to learn elaborate synonyms for basic verbs. Finally, children must then complete the actions the verb suggests.
One patient in the waiting room is not sick but needs help from the doctor to figure out a really long word. Users again must fill in the blanks with vowels to complete the word. Once the word is found, the patient says the definition and the new word in a complete sentence. Finally, he returns to the waiting room so he can be called on again and share a different word.
I used this app with my first graders. They were highly engaged. However, without the provided hints, my students would not have been able to figure out many of the missing vowels independently as they did not follow common phonemic rules taught in first grade. As a result, we spent much of our time as a whole group. I wanted an opportunity to explain vowel teams or “r” controlled vowels. As the app does provide hints, they could have used it completely independently without difficulty and their instructional focus would have solely been on verbs. Due to the fact that app developers chose to include a wide range of phonemic principles extends the audience range for the app. Second graders learning about these rules would benefit from an entertaining way practice them. Third and fourth-grade teachers could also use this app to demonstrate the use of synonyms in writing. Introducing these elaborate verbs helps students understand the importance of using “strong” words in their writing—a difficult concept to teach.
As a whole, this is a highly entertaining app that also happens to be an excellent educational tool. Teachers using this app will not be disappointed! This is a TWA pick!
Katie Chirhart is a National Board Certified Teacher and has been teaching for sixteen years. She has specializations in early childhood and reading. Recently, she finished her Campus Technology Certification. She began her career in College Station, TX teaching a full inclusion pre-kindergarten class. Currently, Katie lives and works in Shreveport, LA. After spending ten years teaching third grade, she now teaches in an elementary iPad Lab. She has earned When time allows, she enjoys working with teachers far and wide sharing the wonders of technology. Her current job is a dream come true.