The tiptoi® digital-audio learning system from Ravensburger is one interesting find from our recent visit abroad. We’ve had a number of requests for interactive books, so we took a closer look. After several days of play we’re still very happy with the tiptoi® system, so we’re bringing it to Alphabet Garten. We will be stocking one of the starter sets, and several books, with the other books available by special order.
The tiptoi® system uses an electronic pen (“Stift”), which reacts to specially printed books, puzzles or games. The books and games are specially printed but otherwise completely normal – they aren’t bulky or especially fragile and don’t need extra batteries – all of the magic is in the Stift. The Stift has a headphone jack, which is a nice touch for use while travelling, or any time.
It’s worth noting that you’ll need a computer and a USB port to download the interactive content to the Stift. The Stift also requires 2 AA batteries, not included in the set.
Ravensburger is supporting the tiptoi® with a selection of books which draws on their excellent existing print catalog, including a number of books in the popular “Wieso? Weshalb? Warum?” and “Leserabe” series.
The interactive Wieso? Weshalb? Warum? Books have the high-quality artwork and binding typical of the series, but the tiptoi® Stift makes them come alive in new and engaging ways.
After a few days of play, we think that Ravensburger has done a very good job of transforming the series for interactivity. T2 is still having fun with them after several days despite the fact that she’s outside than the target age (4-7 years).
Choose one of the four basic modes by touching a corresponding symbol found on each page and then touching the page:
For the younger child, “discover” mode makes the illustrations come alive with sound effects or descriptions — birds chirp, horses whinny, fire engines scream and trucks rumble. Every child will find something they love in the richly detailed drawings.
For the slightly older child, “learn” mode adds interesting and useful information to many of the items in the illustrations – the same kind of interesting and detailed information you find as text in the print editions.
In “story telling” mode, many of the characters in the book tell you about themselves – for example, the happy couple in an Altstadt wedding tell the story of how they met. The “story telling” mode makes the books suprisingly engaging by weaving a simple storyline with recurring characters throughout the book. For example, the “Entdecke die Stadt” follows a family throughout the day as they explore the city with Oma and Opa. Through little vignettes, we learn about the family, watch Jasper get lost in the Mall and follow them to the museum, a football game and the Stadtfest.
In “play” mode, each page offers a different interactive and educational game. Games are at several levels of difficulty and include simple search games, “Ich sehe was, was du nicht siehst” (“I spy”), timed discovery games and quizzes. The games alone have kept T2 busy for several days, and have even pulled in the adults a time or two!
Leserabe is the second Ravensburger series to come to the tiptoi®. The Leserabe books are listed for ages 6-8 but are appropriate for beginning readers at any age. The Leserabe books have the same high-quality bindings, illustrations and Easy Reader stories as their print-only cousins.
For Leserabe books, the tiptoi® Stift functions in one of three primary modes:
In “read to me mode” a tap on each page reads the text at a comfortable pace.
In “read along” mode, the reader taps each line in turn and reads along. The line is read back at a slower speed with emphasis on syllables so it’s easy to read along.
In “read it myself” mode, only a handful of highlighted interesting or tricky words are interactive. Tap once to hear the word spoken, or twice for more information about the word.
Even the earliest readers will have fun listening to the story and playing with the interactive illustrations – tapping on the people or items in any picture plays an appropriate corresponding sound.
Several pages contain games for more advanced readers – self-readers can tap on the Leserabe wherever he appears to play a simple interactive (and educational) game. A quiz at the end of the book ties it all together.
Puzzles and Games
Ravensburger also offers interactive puzzles and a range of interactive games designed especially for the tiptoi®. They look fun and interesting, but we didn’t get the chance to try any of them out.
We have to admit that we started out fairly skeptical toward electronics, but the tiptoi® won us over. We feel that Ravensburger has managed to maintain the feel and high-quality of their print offerings – interactivity is an extension to make an already rich experience even more engaging, rather than a gimmick or a substitute for content.
Watching T2 on the tiptoi® over the past few days certainly seems to confirm our impression that Ravensburger have managed to create in interesting, engaging and educational experience.