Tiggly Chef Addition: Preschool Math Cooking Game App Review
Tiggly Chef offers countless opportunities to count and add in this entertaining and motivating game for young children. Users can experiment with putting groups together as they “cook up” some imaginative culinary delights.
Connects intuitive math to formalized math
Reinforces simple addition concepts
Introduces formal math symbols “+” and “=”
Allows users to create their own recipes
Encourages flexible thinking and playing with numbers
Tiggly Chef: Preschool Math Cooking Game is loads of fun and encourages young children to practice vital math concepts while they play. This is a well-designed and high-quality app that works with the Tiggly Counting Toys (sold separately) or without them. The toys interact with the screen of your Ipad and provide a tangible way to connect with the numbers. There are five pieces in the physical set, representing numbers one to five. Users lay the toys on the screen to match the number of items needed in the recipe. However, I had some difficulty getting four and the five pieces to register consistently. There was also some inconsistency in whether I could combine two of the pieces to make a larger number. The pieces do have magnetic strips on them that make them easy to place end-to-end, so a child can create “five” by connecting the “two” and the “three” pieces. This seemed to work on the screen sometimes but not others, and I could not find a pattern of when it worked and when it did not.
This is an absolutely outstanding app to teach foundational skills in addition, which is one of the first math operations that children will encounter in a formalized setting. The app has two modes: one that uses the plastic counting pieces that are sold separately, and one that simply allows users to create the numbers needed by tapping one to five fingers on the screen at the same time. The toys require far less coordination to use, but it’s next to impossible to misplace the fingers. The fingers usually come free with most models of children, but the toys are sold separately. The toys also offer the added benefit of providing a concrete representation of each number that children can see, hold and poke, which will help many kids conceptualize the number.
No matter which mode of play your child uses, the Chef of Tiggly Town will take on the young cook and gradually give him or her more responsibilities as levels are completed. The Chef’s creative recipes ask users to add the correct numbers of ingredients (over forty different ones in all) that the Chef uses to make over forty different imaginative dishes such as “Billy Brussel Kiwi Sprout.” Children can put the ingredients into the bowl in groups, and an addition equation appears that shows their progress. For example, if seven carrots are needed for the recipe, the child can add 2, then 3, then 2 more to make the math equation “2 + 3 + 2 =7.” There are tons of possibilities here that will encourage children to think flexibly about numbers and problem solving, which in turn will aid their understanding of math in the future.
Children will have a ball playing with this app. The goofy chef that oversees the kitchen speaks with a great accent and intonation, clear yet silly, that children will have no trouble understanding. The finished recipes have great names that are read aloud for the youngsters, and that match the ingredients used. Once each dish is finished, the chef opens the pot for the cook to “sample” the masterpiece by swiping over it to take bites, then children have the opportunity to record their voices describing how they liked the dish after they ate it. Chef even suggests some great “taste” words, like “sour,” for kids to consider using. It’s also fun to make up your own recipes. This part of the app presents ingredients to choose and gives the apprentice chefs control over how many of each need to be added to the mixture. Once the recipe is written, the game play returns to the original format, where children add the correct number of items to the bowl, then get to see and “sample” the final creation.
This app is free in the App Store, but developers recommend purchase of the companion Counting Toys for $29.95, which seems somewhat expensive. The toys are supported by three different free apps at this time, and do provide a far more comprehensive experience with the numbers. However, the app can be used without the toys. Some children may find that somewhat challenging, though, and many will consistently reach the higher numbers by adding “1 + 1 + 1 +…” instead of grouping numbers as the developers intend. Without specific instructions to try using multiple fingers, many children may not think of this, and that would seriously compromise the app’s educational value.
A very large concern with child friendliness, however, is related to the way that the app encourages children to use multiple fingers in the responses. Some parents may not be aware that iPads have a feature called “multi-tasking” that allows users to switch from one app to the app that was previously opened by swiping multiple fingers from right to left across the screen. This can also happen when using the toys. All it takes is for a child to place the toy and slide it just a bit. The feature is controlled in the settings section and must be TURNED OFF to prevent young users from accidentally dropping out of the Tiggly Chef app and into whatever was opened before it. This should definitely be noted to parents in an obvious place, because young children often should not be using many other apps on a parent’s device.
The app would also benefit from some more obvious directions to users, such as a quick video or a visual prompt about how to use it. I tried to use the version without the toy, and it took a LOT of experimentation to find out that I could use multiple fingers to add larger numbers at one time.