Math can be an intimidating subject for many youngsters, but there are a number of iPad educational apps aiming to make the subject more friendly. Slice Fractions is one such app, and it focuses on fractions in particular, which can be a major stumbling block in early education. Rather than relying on age old methods of teaching fractions, Slice Fractions turns the process into more of a game. In fact, Slice Fractions resembles Icebreaker: A Viking Voyage more than it does other educational apps.
Your goal in each level is to slice the lava in the right proportions to clear away the different ice blocks in the cute woolly mammoth’s way. The app begins with a straight forward lesson that doesn’t even include numbers, and instead reinforces the ideas of proportions. There aren’t numbers until you reach world 2, which is 32 levels into the app, and the numbers then build upon the ideas of identifying pieces of a whole. It’s a very intriguing idea as you slice blocks in half, thirds, fourths, and sixths at different angles all while maintaining the idea of figuring out the ratios that you’re creating. There are 60 levels total that cover partitioning, numerator/denominator, fractions, fraction orders, and subtracting fractions from one.
The interactive educational idea is executed extremely well so that there are smooth swipe controls to slice through the ice, and high quality imagery to offer a connection with the environment. Every few levels introduces a new concept, and there are unlockable hats to outfit your woolly mammoth with. There’s just a great flow to the entire experience, so that it keeps leading the user forward level by level, and it always feels like an engaging game. The approach is a bit overly methodical at times with some redundancy across levels, but it does help to reinforce the concepts. It takes awhile to get into any real challenge, and it does seem to skim the surface, or have appeal to a very young audience. The concept though is extraordinary, and it would be great to see a series of these games that dive into greater complexities as well.
Slice Fractions ($2.99 Universal) makes learning fractions as enjoyable as can be to help make the concepts stick. It’s a great idea executed well making it worth picking up if you have little ones in the house.