Fractions was never fun when I was school, except when I got to play with food. Now my children have the benefit of a fun App with a few activities to help reinforce what they are learning about fractions.
There are four activities, each with 3 levels of difficulty. The levels of difficulty mean the App could be used for children in middle to upper primary school. A training mode guides children through each activity, although the caption has a glaring misspelling. A cute musical theme plays in the background but it can be turned off using the control on the main screen. (Believe me, you’ll want to use it as the ‘cute’ wears off fairly quickly.)
Simple Fractions – A pizza is shared between pirates on a beach and in a boat. Children tap each slice to feed the pirates on the beach, who walk away as they are fed. They are then asked to select the fraction that indicates how much remains for those in the boat. A six-sliced pizza might first feed 2 pirates on the beach, and then the child would need to select 4/6 to show the remainder. If they are correct, the pirates in the boat cheer, eat the pizza and row away. An incorrect answer will cause a cannon ball to sink their boat. If children have forgotten how many slices they started with (necessary to indicate the denominator), a faint image remains behind to help with counting.
Equivalent – Balance a bridge with equal buckets of fireworks to allow the pirate to cross. Children are presented with a fraction, for example 2/3, and need to select a fraction with an equal value, such as 4/6, to balance a bridge. If they are correct the bridge will balance and the pirate can cross. An incorrect answer results in the crackers exploding.
Addition – Addition of two fractions. The children are asked to add the value of two pieces of cake. If they are correct, the pirate eats the cake. If not, his parrot swoops in and eats it.
Comparing – Two pirates are on a seesaw. The pirate on the bottom holds a watermelon with a fraction. The child needs to select a second watermelon with a fraction larger than the other so that the second pirate can be lowered to the ground. Success results in the pirate walking off with his melon. The pirate drops the watermelon when an incorrect answer is selected.
To see the App in action and to get an idea of the activities and the various levels, have a look at this YouTube video.
Spelling – Trainig Mode instead of Training. This is a simple thing but it just grates on my nerves every time I see it. There are other spelling errors throughout the App. Obviously, this is a side-effect of poor translation from another language [Update 25th May, 2012 – spelling errors have been addressed in a recent update.]
Negative Feedback – a wrong answer results in negative feedback, with no chance for the child to retry, and no supportive feedback to help them arrive a the correct answer. Just a simple verbal prompt such as “Count all the slices” or “That is too big” can help children to realise their error. Also, the animations for the negative feedback are quite entertaining and I know of at least one little boy (who shall remain nameless) who would prefer to sink the boat than get the correct answer in the Simple Fractions activity. This is where adult supervision and feedback are important. Where these things are lacking, we can step in and offer that feedback and support ourselves.
Social Networking – There are links to social networking sites (including Facebook and Twitter) on the first screen. While I’m sure the publisher wishes to promote their Apps through this media, and that these links are for the parents and not the children, it is inappropriate to have these links in such an obvious place. Social networking sites are usually restricted to children under 13, and so have no place in an App designed specifically for this age group.
While I’m not 100% happy with the App, overall it is a good resource. It is enjoyable and motivating enough that children will enjoy using it without feeling that they are practicing Mathematics under duress. The price is reasonable and it is Universal so will work on both iPhone and iPad.
Publisher: Virtualnye Prostranstva LLC
- Make it simple! (journalmath.wordpress.com)