Review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated January 2016
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Tiggly Doctor: Spell Verbs and Perform Actions Like a Real Doctor

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Practice spelling while practicing medicine

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Difficulty adjusts to more challenging words as kids master easier lists.

Cons: No way to customize spelling words.

Bottom Line: G-R-O-S-S spelling fun brings shock value to spelling and vocab.

Though it's billed as a spelling game, teachers will find vocabulary building to be another learning benefit of having students play Tiggly Doctor. There's no way to set up accounts for multiple students or to receive teacher reports, so it's best used for individual practice.

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Tiggly Doctor is an app that can be played solely on mobile or that can be paired with the Tiggly Words toys for hybrid play. Either way, kids will encounter all kinds of icky illnesses at the doctor's office among the three recurring patients. From noses dripping like faucets to bug-infested hair and chocolate-covered rotting teeth, there's plenty of gross. Play is available in seven languages.

Three characters wait in the doctor's office lobby, all with a revolving array of (mostly disgusting) maladies. Kids choose which patient to see and learn about the ailment. Kids spell the verb that corresponds to the treatment and guide the tools to complete the treatment, such as plucking the worm from the blemish on a boy's head. One of the boys illnesses features longer vocabulary words throughout play, but as kids demonstrate mastery of easier words, the challenge picks up, with treatment verbs evolving from "cut" to "anesthetize."

Disgusting patients entertain kids with shock humor, but the increasingly challenging verbs will expand their vocabularies and spelling skills. The three characters look like puppets, made up of different colorful textures, and give a dramatic demonstration of suffering sure to entertain. The controls are easy to use -- tapping a letter moves it into place as easily as dragging if you're playing without toys. Otherwise, kids put the correct letter onto the device's screen. The story line makes spelling fun, but the words are limited to the verbs in the game with no way to enter custom lists.

The spelling isn't that challenging with the hints, but the vocabulary is. Play starts with basic words such as "pull," advances to words with blends such as 'grab," and then moves into more sophisticated vocabulary with words such as "sever." Hints come very quickly, with only the correct letter choice shown after a few seconds.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Artistically creative puppet-like characters with disgusting medical situations will engage kids with the ick factor, and the revolving cases for each of the three characters will keep kids wondering what else could go wrong.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Challenge adjusts automatically based on performance, advancing through three levels of words and including some sophisticated vocabulary. Kids pick up some science concepts seeing how tools (magnets, tweezers, scalpels) are used.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Hints appear very quickly, narrowing down to only the correct vowel choice.

Common Sense Reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

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