Squeebles Fractions is an interesting app to help children to understand fractions, creating a bright, colorful world in which to practice their math skills.
I admire the cake theme found throughout this app, as players are able to, within the first section of this app, serve pieces of a cake to waiting monster-like Squeebles characters which correspond to a fraction seen on the screen, really helping children visualize the fractions they are working with.
Two levels of difficulty are included, but I actually find that the “harder” level is possibly simpler as these fractions tend to be like “7/10,” allowing children to count both the total pieces of cake available as well as the number of pieces from this total to be given to a waiting Squeeble - unlike the “easier” fractions that may ask for “1/4” a piece of the cake out of eight pieces, asking children to understand the need to double the pieces required from the total out of eight.
Three other games are included, each with a variety of difficulty levels such as Tricky Pairs where players need to match fractions together which correspond, i.e. 8/10 to 4/5 or 1/4 and 3/12.
In Think Big, children will need to drag a cake to the Squeeble thinking of the bigger fraction, be it 1/3 or 5/11.
Super Sums asks children to add fractions together such as 1/6 and 2/6, giving them answers that will make them think, such as 1/2, not simply 3/6.
Time is kept within these exercises, and children are rewarded for the many correct answers within a given time.
Achievements are offered for high scores as well as trophies, and children also earn cake entries to The Cake Show - a scored contest that children will design cakes for, choosing for their fantasy cake such elements as basic cake mix, filling, icing and topping.
Children hopefully will find their cakes being judged by these silly monster creatures fun, especially as they prefer combinations typically not within the human palette, such as ketchup-and-mustard cake filling, bringing some whimsy into this useful math app as well as tying in a brief storyline about the Maths Monster stealing the Squeebles' ingredients and entry tokens.
I would, however, like to have an option of removing the scoring system altogether, allowing children a chance to take as much time as they may need without feeling rushed.
This is especially important as this app does not give much in the way of an explanation of the math one takes part in. Although a great teaching tool to practice fractions, the question of “how” and “why” is not fully explored.
This is not a flaw, really, as this app can be enjoyed by children with a basic understanding of fractions. It would be nice, however, to have the time to fully explain the concept of fractions and cutting the cake into pieces without a timer clicking and counting down until this section times out and the activity is over.
My son has been a real math and science kid for some time now, and I have begun to explain the concept of fractions as we cut real food such as apples or cakes of our own, as well as cutting food. I am sure he would also really enjoy this application, but at his young age of four and a half, the timer does not benefit him, and I am sure this is true for other children as well.
It is also worth noting that although both US as well as UK instructions are included, there is no narration of the included text, so users will need to be able to read these instructions to themselves or be given instructions by an adult.
I do find the font used here to be less easy to read than others - something to think about for a possible update or just to keep in mind for a future application.
Even with these notes, the look of Squeebles Fractions is brightly colored, cheerful and fun. I really enjoy the cake serving to express fractions as well as the other fraction games that this app includes.
I really think this app will be of help to students, but it would be wonderful to have the option to hide the score-keeping to allow children to solve these questions at their own pace.