If your family enjoys cooking and baking as much as mine does, it’s likely that you’ve spent quite a bit of time teaching fractions the old-fashioned way – following recipes with measuring cups and spoons. While that method works well as hands-on, real-life experience in measuring fractions, it doesn’t involve much practice in adding fractions unless you frequently double or triple recipes.
I’m usually in baking mode this time of year, and since we’re still houseless and staying with family, my normal cookie routine for the holidays isn’t happening. Instead, we’ve made do with a simple cake mix cookie recipe, and now I’m on a muffin kick. (I’ll share more about that soon – I want to take some pictures to go with it, and everyone keeps eating the muffins before I remember to take pictures!)
Chey and Chris have been helping out, of course, and we’ve been doubling the muffin recipe. It’s made me realize that while Chey has a strong understanding of fraction parts, she’s not very good at mentally adding the parts together.
We’ve recently been blessed with a fun new way to approach fractions. Fractazmic is a card game created by I See Cards, the company behind the award-winning Pyramath game. The card deck includes 60 cards divided into three suits: green tenths, blue twelfths, and red sixteenths. In addition to the numerals, each card also includes images depicting the amount on the card. Green tenths are illustrated by fluid in a bottle, while twelfths are shown by eggs in a carton and sixteenths with bugs on a ruler.
The concept and gameplay of Fractazmic is easy to learn, akin to rummy, but with fractions instead of straights. Cards are shuffled and dealt, seven each in a two-person game, five for three or four players. The top card is turned face-up and starts the discard pile, while the remaining cards are face-down in the draw pile. When cards are discarded during gameplay, they are placed in a row, so that each card may be seen, rather than in one stack with only the top card visible.
The goal of the game is to create “hands” by adding together cards in the same suit until they total one. During a player’s turn, they must choose whether to take a card from the top of the draw pile, or pick up one or more cards from the discard. If they choose the discard pile, the “farthest-down” card that they take must be immediately played in a hand, while cards above it may be used in the hand or kept. The game ends when a player is completely out of cards, and the player who created the greatest number of hands is the winner.
Like many items we review, Fractazmic isn’t adapted to a particular homeschooling method, nor is it “just for homeschoolers”. Speaking as an adult who is pretty good at doing math in my head, I was surprised at just how much Fractazmic challenged me. As soon as we started playing, I realized that, while I can convert fractions easily, adding fractions with different denominators, even to such a deceptively simple number as one, is not anywhere near as easy as it sounds. It takes practice.
As a result, Fractazmic games are not going to play as quickly as a similar round of rummy would, at least in the beginning. I’ve noticed that, as time goes by, and depending on who is playing, we’ve picked up the pace a little bit. Not too surprisingly, the kids are catching on far more quickly than I am. It’s filling in a mental math blindspot that I didn’t even know I had, and that’s a huge plus, in my opinion, for this game. If I’m missing it, despite how easily I can do most math in my head, then it’s defitely something that my kids need to practice!
The kids have enjoyed playing Fractazmic; thanks to the challenge of adding the fractions, the gameplay is different enough from other card games that there’s no risk of hearing something like “Mom, it’s just another …. game with different pictures.”
The cards are vividly colored, glossy and sturdy – this deck will hold up to regular use. Because we’ve had such a positive experience with Fractazmic, I plan to purchase the other three games available from I See Cards: Pyramath, Prime Bomb, and the original I See Cards game.
To see what other crew members had to say about both great products, check out the TOS Homeschool Crew blog post, I See Cards.
**I received this product for free as a member of the 2011-12 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew so that I could provide you with an honest review of it by our family.**