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Pros: Fun games gradually foster strong conceptual understanding; great built-in CCSS alignment.
Cons: Short motivational cartoons that appear every few levels don’t make sense to kids.
Bottom Line: A stellar way to dig deep and give kids an excellent intro to fractions.
Fruity Fractions works best if each student has his or her own device. However, there should be frequent opportunities for students to stop and share what they've discovered. In many problems, there's more than one right answer; give kids a chance to pause and organically learn from each other's thinking. It will also help them see that equal shares of identical wholes don’t always have the same shape.
Earlier levels are reading-heavy, so pair less-strong readers with a stronger reader to get started. Once they make it past the first 6 levels, the text instructions become less important. The text is pretty small, so it works better on a larger device like an iPad. In the Grown-ups menu, teachers can turn off sound, turn off the locks to let kids skip ahead,and turn off hints for students who rely too heavily on their guidance.
Editor's Note: Fruity Fractions is no longer available.
Fruity Fractions teaches basic fractions concepts to kids in first through third grade. Students divide up circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, and irregular shapes into equal parts. Without knowing it, kids use the concept of the unit fraction to build an understanding of whole-part relationships. Instruction and practice are interwoven, empowering kids to move from simple to complex seamlessly. Kids move through 50 levels, each of which appears as a single screen with a puzzle to solve. Students learn about what a fraction is by separating fruit into equal parts and describing it with a numerator and denominator. Fruity Fractions emphasizes multiple representations, too: Kids create both the numerical fraction and the corresponding shape model.
There's excellent Common Core State Standards alignment built right in: Kids drag and drop to partition shapes into equal parts, meeting all fractions standards for first and second grade and most of them for third grade. The only drawback is that kids don't learn how to represent fractions on a number line or learn specifically about equivalent fractions. However, the same developer has other apps that address these skills, and students may begin to notice patterns (e.g., 2/4 of a watermelon can look just like a 1/2 watermelon) and start to figure out equivalent fractions on their own.
This app is thoughtfully designed to build kids' understanding of fractions and to dispel major misconceptions. Kids tend to view fractions as two disconnected numbers separated by a line; here, instead of seeing the numerator and denominator as unrelated numbers, kids repeatedly drag multiple unit fractions (like 1/4) together to build a concept of what a fraction (like 3/4) actually means. This app's biggest strength is its clear scaffolding: As kids move through the game, new sections become available, keeping kids locked out of the higher levels until they've mastered the lower ones. Kids can go back to these early activities to review in any order once they've demonstrated mastery. There's a built-in timer, too; kids who are acing the early levels can race each other later on to hone their skills and keep up the challenge.
The only odd feature is the silly fruit diving cartoon that appears after every five levels. Its point might be lost on the target age group, and it seems superfluous: This app is fun and rewarding as it is, and there's no need for this momentary distraction.