Curious Hat Labs
Free on Apple iOS
The aptly named Oh No Fractions! is a simple app for learning (or re-learning) fractions.
Designed by Curious Hat Lab for Apple iOS, this app for kids (and adults wanting a quick re-fresher) is a simple way to compare fractions.
Players compare two fractions and choose whether the one on the left is greater than, or less than, the one on the right by swiping. If you get it wrong, you can tap ‘prove it’, which shows blocks of the same size divided into sections, depending upon the different denominators. Difficulty levels can be adjusted by setting the maximum number for the denominator.
The app is in English and therefore works reading left to right and has various annoying sounds – I’d advise playing with the sound off.
While fractions are pretty straight forward, comparing them can get tricksy, even for adult minds, and the app has a pretty simply laid out interface to compare them, helping to put what can become a jumble of incomparable numbers into perspective.
It also, let’s face it, gets pretty boring after a while; but it’s a nice wee app to brush up on your long division (not just a description of a rom com plotline).
However, this is where the app fails in terms of a prolonged learning tool; the best way I learned to differentiate (in the English language sense of the word) the comparable sizes of fractions was by long division, or breaking the fractions down into decimals, where an end result was two numbers, one clearly larger than the other. That, or finding the infamous lowest common denominator and adjusting the numerators accordingly.
In showing how the fractions differ, the app doesn’t really provide people with any other way to differentiate two fractions then by taking a shape and dissecting it into sections and then working out whether a certain amount of one sort of section will be more than a certain amount of the other. One way to do this is to say that one fraction is clearly larger than the next nearest half/quarter etc (ie if you had 6/10 and 4/8, you can work out that the equivalent to the latter would be 5/10, and 6/10 is more than 5/10, so it’s more than 4/8). But this isn’t as simple for uneven fractions – what about 5/8 and 4/7?
So while it’s engaging, simple and a useful tool in maintaining overall long division skills, it neither develops these skills nor maintains them by showing correct working.
Having said that, if you’re trying to get your kids into fractions, this is a simple and easy way to do it; just make sure they understand what they’re doing in the long run.
And hey, it’s free – now there’s a fraction I can get behind.