Jungle Fractions is an outstanding app that makes learning about fractions so much fun! Learning about fractions is often frustrating for young children. It is a tough concept with a lot of new vocabulary for kids to tackle at a young age. Thankfully, developer Andrew Short created this app.
We recommend this app for 5 and 6 year olds, however children up through fifth grade can use it. The latest release added multiplication of fractions which extends the life of this app in your home. The only issue may be older children thinking the cartoon jungle animals and their sounds a bit childish.
The activities in the app address key areas of understanding and manipulation of fractions. There are five sections (name, compare, convert, add, and multiply) and five levels. The parent learning page is helpful for parents who have forgotten their elementary school lessons. This parent section helps adults and children make sense of the vocabulary and strategies for working with fractions.
In the setting section you can keep track of your child’s progress. You can also turn on and off the animals sounds and the background sounds. This may not sound like a big deal but believe me you WILL love this feature. The testers enjoyed spiking the volume. Earplugs will work, whether you wear them or your child does.
There are so many opportunities every day to prepare your child for the difficult concept of fractions. Remember that every time you break a cookie in half and share it you are modeling fractions.
Activity 1: A Look at Fractions For 1st Graders
By the end of first grade your child should:
• Be comfortable dividing circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares.
• Describe the shares using the appropriate terms – halves, fourths, and quarters & “half of…”, “fourth of…”, and “quarter of…”
• Understand 2 halves are equal to one whole & 4 fourths (or 4 quarters) are also equal to one whole.
• Understand that the greater number of shares you divide a whole by, the smaller each of those shares becomes. In other words, one fourth is smaller than one half when talking about the same whole.
Activity 2: Ways to Get Ready to Learn Fractions
The big idea around fractions is that you can break apart one whole object into smaller equal parts. Those parts have names and can vary in size and amount. That is a big concept for our little ones. Thankfully there are lots of things parents can do for kids to prepare them for learning about fractions.
1. Talk – talk – talk. Vocabulary is half the battle with fractions. Describe things around your world with words like “whole,” “half,” “equal,” and “not equal.” While packing your child’s lunch explain that you are cutting the sandwich in “half.” Have your child give “equal” amounts of crayons when sharing with friends. When your child is ready, introduce the words “divide” and “remainder” – graham crackers work well for modeling these two words.
2. Use apps. Fractions are challenging to model with children because we eventually run out of interesting, meaningful things we can cut into parts. From experience – practicing with paper gets boring really fast. Apps like Jungle Fractions are an excellent way for your child to play with fractions in a safe and supportive way. You will be glad to leave the things in your house “whole” too.
3. Playing with your food is a great way to learn fractions. Next time you have a dish that can be evenly divided (pizza is great for this), have your student divide it in half, and then into quarters.