Tiggly knows that experience and relevancy produces both confidence and competency when teaching kids, and their newest pairing of manipulatives and apps in Tiggly Counts teaches kids to truly “feel what you learn.” There are three free apps included in the suite for Tiggly Counts that use the counting rods. All apps can be used with or without the rods, but the experience is enhanced when using the roads. Based on Montessori learning methods, senses are stimulated and help lay out pathways to make learning stick. By including motor and visual play through joyful experimentation, kids learn precision and the ability to grade force with rod placement…and definitely what two, three, and four looks and feel like by themselves or in combination with other rods. All the rods are magnetized, and you can make a train of one and two to make three, two and three to make five, etc. Handling the rods also develops in-hand skills for visual motor tasks i.e. future writing and tool use by synchronizing the sensory systems of vision and hand movement. When playing the games with your hands, counting is done through a linear expression…1, 2, 3…to get to three, but with the rods, you can try 1 + 2 to equal 3. Its open design also means you can stick your fingers in the holes, and that is a genuine play scheme in itself, even before you encounter the apps! First, you need to choose to play with the rods or using your fingers to engage screen play. If choosing the rods, you will need to calibrate them with the screen. I initially had trouble doing this with the 3 and 4 bars, but practice made perfect, and the rods registration seemed to improve with use. Tips: There is a learning curve, and I would suggest playing with the rods before handing them over to a child so that you get to know how the rods work. If using screen protectors, the app has a hard time reading the input from the bars – so you really need to just trust your iPad and the app itself, your student’s/child’s abilities, and possibly work on another plane…meaning having your iPad at a slant or in another position to avoid any possible drippings on to your iPad. And lastly giving the iPad time to process the input and then if need be, gently rocking the rods forward and backward like a child who is trying to place something, just so…as it registers the bars better with that motion initially.Tiggly, after all, is leading the pack so to speak in combining experience with apps and is one of the few toys sold in the Apple retail store. That alone is a compliment and an amazing endorsement. The apps…are all created in stunning detail; visually pleasing and friendly in use. There is no extraneous visual or auditory clutter, and the apps in and of themselves are reinforcing for continued play. So, let’s go ahead and take a look, and play!
When opening Tiggly Cardtoons: Learn to Count with 25 Interactive Kids Stories, calibrating your rods by placing the requested one on the screen gets you in! Placing any rod on the screen earns a video of that number. If you place the two bar on the screen, two dots appear. So count them 1, 2, and watch those dots free float in space. Once you get them corralled by targeting and dragging them to specific dots in space, what comes up next on screen is an enticing Cartoon based on the number you’ve selected. If five was selected, you may see a short story about 5 kittens. The illustrations use cardboard, paint, and ink in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and are absolutely made to delight. There are plenty of variations with each number, and just enough repetition to give preschoolers some recognition so as to give a shout out to a card story they made successfully before. Next up is Tiggly Chef: Preschool Math Cooking Game, and the chance to earn your way through an apprenticeship with the copper, silver, and gold chef’s in their exquisitely detailed kitchens. Each level is more challenging than the last, and each Chef has his own unique recipes. This is probably the most fun of the trio, and it is reinforcing in and of itself to just keep playing. Follow specified recipes or strike out on your own…each creation is unique, has bragging rights, and can be kept in a recipe file in that Chef’s kitchen. If making a Chef’s dish, he will ask for a certain quantity of an item…i.e. “3 pretzels” and if by chance you give him 5, Chef will tell you to try a smaller rod. Here kids learn about numbers comparatively by using the terminology of smaller and bigger. This is definitely when relevancy comes into play. Because kids are cooking dishes either from a recipe or on their own, the goal is to see what the dish will be, and therefore the quantity and size is relevant to their work and enhances the ability to remember what it is they are learning. I once worked with a child from a big family and tried working what seemed like a long time on the concepts of big, medium and small. When I had remarked about this struggle with the parent, the parent had said to me….”When you always buy a large pizza, how relevant is medium to your life?” And BINGO, it hit me….if toys and activities have no relevance or meaning to a child, they won’t play it or attend to learning the skills. Tiggly knows this. An added bonus to Tiggly Chef: Preschool Math Cooking Game is that preschoolers not only need to count and compare but also learn to recognize different foods. After working with many picky eaters, I can’t help but smile at Tiggly’s use of broccoli, eggplant, and peppers. This is a perfect way to introduce new foods as well as help desensitize kids to viewing them. A lot of times, once you make a food ordinary even just by playing with it, it is not so scary to try eating it. As you make dishes, a mathematical equation appears for adding items. If you needed 7 carrots, add 2, then 2+?=7 will appear. After a while kid's assimilated this information, and beginning addition and subtraction are learned intuitively. Once all the ingredients have hit the pan…Voila! Crazy fun and silly dishes are created. Tiggly Addventure: Number Line & Math Learning Game for Preschool is the last of the Tiggly Count series and is meant for kids a little older, 6-8-year-olds. The mission here, (and Tiggly knows that older kids love to use what they have learned), is to help the character Tiggly get to Grandma’s house or to his friend’s house. He can deliver an apple to Grandma or a gift to his friend. All adventures are on a number line, where Tiggly must cross bridges, scaling ladders, and even travel through space to get to his goal. Concepts of time and space are presented first as linear progressions of definite moves using a 1:1 correspondence, and then is stretched into using a base of counting by 2s or 3s. You need to be persistent and experiment by trying out new theories of action, and by using the rods; it brings it down to a direct cause and effect experiential level. This app is intended to teach number sensibilities. That means learning about the rules of numbers – their meaning and relationships to other numbers. Practicing on the number line is a wonderful beginning to teach these concepts. And that is what Tiggly knows. About the Author Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.