My partner downloaded the app, Slice Fractions 2, onto his iPad, and Little Fox has been obsessed with it. Though he seems to have been able to figure out most of the problems on his own without being formally taught fractions, some of the levels stumped him.
Rather than do the problems for him so his mammoth could move on, earn hats, and rescue cute pets, I talked to him about the problems as we solved them together. He was especially stumped by a particular level where there are two whole blocks, and he has to come up with five-thirds blocks of ice to snuff the lava and let the mammoth go on its merry way.
Just describing it wasn’t working, as it had for other levels, so we got back to practical basics. I didn’t think we’d be doing fractions this early with him, but so be it. He’s interested, so we’re doing it.
I thought of using cuisenaire rods, but what I really wanted was something whole that could be cut up. We don’t have gf pretzel sticks, and I didn’t want to break a pencil for a point (pun intended), and Dragon suggested a banana, but no way am I eating or wasting a banana right now.
We decided on meat sticks, because even if we didn’t eat them, we could put them back in the bag. Fox plucked the paper towel, Dragon fetched the bag of snacks from the pantry, and I set to work.
First we talked about the stick as a whole, representing a block. There are two blocks: two wholes.
Second, I talked about the “number on the bottom” (the denominator) being how many pieces to cut the whole into. In the case of his problem, five-thirds, he needed to cut each whole into three pieces. Cutting was hard with a table knife–these meat sticks are dry and dense–so I did the work. When we had our three pieces, I showed him that each piece represented a single third.
Finally, we talked about how many pieces he needed to complete the puzzle. The problem showed 5/3. I talked about the “number on top” (the numerator), and how it indicates how many pieces are necessary to solve the problem. I asked him to count out five thirds from the pieces we had. Then he went back to the game, used his narwhals to slice the right number of thirds, and passed the challenge.
If you have access to the game and can afford the price ($4), this is an incredible game that my little one loves, and both my partner and I enjoy playing as well, even though we mastered fractions a long time ago because there’s more to many of these challenges than just knowing what numbers are needed to complete each level. (I am not being sponsored by the company to endorse it, I just really, really like it.)
As for the meat sticks, they never made it back in the bag.