Tiggly Story Maker: Build Words and Record Your Own Tales

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Tiggly Story Maker: Build Words and Record Your Own Tales App Poster Image
Harness the power of vowels to create zany stories.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about flexibility in creating simple consonant-vowel-consonant words such as "cab," "cub," and "cob." With the consonants remaining constant, kids can see how changing the middle vowel changes how the word is pronounced and its meaning. This is part of understanding how letters form words, which represent things (or concepts, places, and so on). Some of the word combinations are probably new to kids (and parents, too -- "fen," anyone?), so they'll also learn vocabulary. Putting kids in charge to create words -- and their resulting animations -- empowers them to feel in control. And the story-telling option provides a platform for them to be creative. Despite some minor glitches and limited combination possibilities, Tiggly Story Maker: Build Words and Record Your Own Tales is a fun way for kids to take charge of some word building and storytelling.

Ease of Play

Placing vowels to form words is easy, with or without toys. It's a bit more challenging to get the timing right to record stories.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tiggly Story Maker: Build Words and Record Your Own Tales is part of a suite of apps that combines use of real-life letter toys with digital wordplay. Kids tap soft silicone vowel toys on the screen to complete three-letter words and watch what happens. The set of toys is available for $29.99 and includes codes to download three apps. Each app can also be purchased and downloaded individually, and kids can take full advantage of the app without using the toys. After creating words, kids can use them to craft their own stories, for which the app will ask permission to use your device's microphone. A parent gate protects the option to download stories to your device. For details on the kinds of information collected and shared, read the app's privacy policy.

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What's it about?

TIGGLY STORY MAKER: BUILD WORDS AND RECORD YOUR OWN TALES works about the same whether you play with or without the toys, but the manipulatives add a layer that really works for some kids. Tap a vowel from the top of the screen (no toy version), or place a vowel toy in the missing spot (toy version) to fill in the missing vowel between two consonants. If the vowel choice makes a real word, an animation of that word appears ("pig," "peg," "pug"). Change consonants and continue playing. As play continues, animations do different things. In the story maker, move the pictures around while recording your voice telling a story.

Is it any good?

Whether kids have the toys or not, they are intimately involved in exploring just how important that middle vowel is in simple consonant-vowel-consonant words. Since it can be disappointing when your vowel choice doesn’t work, the best word set is "b-g," as it is the only one for which every vowel makes a real word and produces a picture or animation. Those images nicely bring the words to life, and random interactions add a heap of silliness that's bound to delight young kids. It would be nice, however, if kids had more control over what the animations do. There's also only a small set of word groups, which limits gameplay a bit. The story option is fun but not entirely tied in to the word-building exercise. A "start recording" button would give kids more time to process their new task by giving them control over when to start recording. At the time of this review, there were some technical difficulties with the audio lining up correctly on playback. Though the game can be easily played without them, the toys do add a unique dimension of interactivity. And, in combination with the other apps that use the toys, Tiggly Story Maker: Build Words and Record Your Own Tales is a fun way to explore vowels.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the words that kids construct. Make sure they understand what each word means.

  • Explore other simple consonant-vowel-consonant combinations and change the vowels to see what new words you and your kids can come up with.

  • Invent stories with your kids using the story-record feature.

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