The Tickle coding app for iPads and iPhones is a great app for education because it was designed to support multiple devices. Once you learn the basics of how to use the app, you can use it with a variety of programmable gadgets. The app is free and easy to learn. The code you create can be simple or surprisingly complex, depending on the devices that you are working with. It uses a drag and drop block programming interface but it also allows you the ability to view your work as Swift 3.0, (the programming language that developers use to program apps for Apple devices).
About the Devices
None of the devices on this guide were developed specifically for the Tickle app. In fact, many have their own native apps as you will see in some of the videos below. However, when you use the Tickle app with one of these devices you can quickly swap it out for a different device with different capabilities and not have to spend time figuring out a new app. Each device connects to Tickle via a Bluetooth connection and can be controlled by building a program with a variety of different coding blocks. The blocks will vary according to the device you are using and the actions it is able to perform. So, here’s what you can use with the Tickle app for iPad or iPhone.
Dash and Dot
These friendly bots are a big hit in the classroom. Their cheerful personalities are hard to ignore and a wide selection of accessories are available to add variety to the activities that you can plan for. Dash is the mobile one with wheels and the ability to travel around your classroom. His faithful companion, Dot, is a stationary robot but he can also be programmed to perform some basic functions or to act as a trigger for Dash.
Teachers should check out the Wonder Workshop Teacher Portal. Here you can find lesson ideas, help guides and even a K-5 coding curriculum, (note that some lessons are only available for purchase). There is also a collection of Dash & Dot videos on YouTube.
Personally, I find Dash more fun to work with and if I had to choose between a Dash and Dot set or 2 Dash robots, I would choose the latter because there is definitely more you can do with Dash and some of the accessories like the launcher or the xylophone are really only for Dash.
Overall, these robots are a great buy and will provide endless hours of coding fun for your kids. Here are some links to take a look at all that is available for Dash and Dot:
- Dash Robot
- Dot Robot
- Dash and Dot Wonder Pack
- Launcher for Dash
- Xylophone for Dash
- Accessories Pack
- Building Brick Connectors
- Education packs for schools
Sphero, Ollie & BB-8
The Sphero, Ollie and BB-8 devices are connected toys that can be programmed with some simple drag and drop coding blocks. Tickle supports Sphero 1.0, 2.0 and the SPRK edition as well as the two-wheeled Ollie and Star Wars themed BB-8 droid.
Right now, the Sphero SPRK edition is probably the best buy if you want to do coding with Tickle, but if you can find a good deal on the Ollie or Sphero 2.o, those are still good bets. Here are some links to find the robots you need.
If you want to use the latest Sphero robot available, the Sphero SPRK+ is the one to get. It didn’t used to work with the Tickle app, but a recent update for the app has added it to a list of compatible devices.
LEGO WeDo 2.0
Like most things that have the Lego brand attached to it, the WeDo 2.0 has a strong following. If you have never seen one before, you could describe it as an entry-level Mindstorms kit. It’s not quite as advanced because it is primarily aimed at Grades 2-4, but it is certainly very versatile and can be programmed to perform a variety of functions. The WeDo is easily expandable due to it’s compatibility with other Lego pieces and the available motors and sensors give you lots of options.
Of note, the Lego WeDo has an app for Chromebooks, and can also connect to Scratch. Teachers using WeDo can connect with each other and get support or ideas in the Lego WeDo Community. The WeDo comes in a variety of different configurations and start at around $150. Learn more here.
The Bean is an Arduino-compatible microcontroller board. Like the other devices on this list, it connects to the Tickle app, and receives its instructions, via Bluetooth. It has an RGB LED and a 3-axis accelerometer. I have not spent any extended amounts of time with a Bean but I think it’s safe to say that it’s not meant for beginners. It also won’t do a whole lot by itself because it was designed to accept inputs from a variety of things like switches, motors and sensors, none of which you get when you buy the base Bean.
That being said, these add-ons are typically not very expensive, and this level of connectivity does make it among the more creative devices you can connect to Tickle. Take a look at some sample projects on the Bean website to get a feel for some of the things it can do. Be sure to check out the Bean Community boards for further helps, support and inspiration.
Philips Hue Lights
The Philips Hue lightbulbs are wifi enabled lights that can be controlled remotely with a mobile device. You can change the colors of these lights to almost anything you would like them to display, create schedules for them to follow, or trigger the lights to turn on, off or switch colors based on a series of pre-programmed events. You can even use them with the Amazon Echo devices.
I’ve yet to see anyone use these in the classroom but that is not to say that they can’t be used for learning. If you know anyone that has found a use for the Philips Hue lights, please drop me a note and let me know. I would love to learn more about how people are using them.
The MiPosaur from WowWee is a relatively recent addition to the stable of devices that you can program with Tickle, but it’s a fun one! It has multiple sensors that let it interact with other dinorsaurs. You can program its movements, change colors, and play sounds. The MiPosaur is cheaper than a Sphero, and comes with BeaconSense infused track ball that can also be used to control the toy. Watch the video below for more idea on what this feisty dinosaur can really do, or learn more here.
Where Are The Drones?
If you have used Tickle before, you may be wondering where the information about the Parrot Drones are in this guide. Well, the short answer is that Tickle has withdrawn it’s support for Parrot devices. This may change in the future, but for now this is the current reality. Read more here.
If you DO want to program your Parrot drones in the classroom, you can still do it, you just can’t do it with Tickle right now. The Tynker app supports Parrot drones, as does Swift Playgrounds, thanks to a special integration from the Parrot Education team. You can find that at bit.ly/swift_drone.