Take a look inside 4 images
The Digits: Fraction Blast
Pros: From the first minute of the video onward, kids are expected to interact with the story; they'll focus on the fun and stay for the fractions.
Cons: Some of the banter between characters borders on obnoxious -- SO MUCH YELLING.
Bottom Line: Unique viewing-interacting experience is an innovative way for kids to learn the very basics of fractions.
The Digits: Fraction Blast can be incorporated into an introductory classroom lesson about fractions or as fractions practice by individual kids or small groups, so accomplishments can be tracked. It's important that kids have the opportunity to move on to the next segment when ready, or review/play with one segment more if they've not quite grasped the concept yet before they move on. Visit The Digits blog, to find out more ways to use its media partner resources, printables, and more.
The Digits: Fraction Blast is a math learning app that takes the form of a TV show-like "appisode." The zany main characters include one human female, one alien male, and a robot. Together they form a space-traveling band, The Digits. Their evil nemesis, record label owner Doomfinger, is perpetually out to get them. Numerous challenges arise during the comedic drama that all somehow can be solved using fractions. FUN-da, the app's developer, takes this app far beyond the usual experience to help teachers incorporate the show's theme and characters in the classroom, using partnerships with YouTube educational videos, Skype In The Classroom, and the PBS LearningMedia library.
Once teachers create a user account for each player, kids can just follow along as if they're watching a TV episode. However, as the intro explains, "This isn't one of those things you can sit and watch ... we need your help." Interactive elements -- like "breaking" the screen in half by shaking it and then pinching it back together -- pop up throughout the show. Some include direct fraction problem-solving, while others are just for fun. The interactive elements all clearly appear as such on the screen, and verbal directions often accompany them. Results of app sessions are automatically emailed to a teacher's email address, along with extension activity ideas. As kids finish each segment of the show (about as long as most PBS educational shows), they earn a cool achievement icon.
PBS's Learning Network has given a nod to The Digits' educational quality, including it in the online video library called PBS LearningMedia. Kids can learn many fractions concepts, starting as simple as "What is a half?" to more difficult concepts like equivalent fractions. The lessons and fun, storyline-related practice in fractions are clear and memorable. There's nothing inappropriate here, but some yelling between the good character and the bad character borders on screaming in each others' faces; teachers may want to clarify for kids that's not good communication. Overall, The Digits: Fraction Blast is a great way to introduce kids to fractions concepts via a silly space adventure story with endearing characters.