Slice Fractions is a new learning game from Ululab that was designed in collaboration with a team of learning experts from the University of Quebec in Montreal. As its name implies, the app focuses on fractions and presents the math concept in a series of slicing puzzles that are part Cut the Rope, part Fruit Ninja.
The goal of Slice Fractions is to break up chunks of ice and lava as you clear a path for a wooly mammoth that is walking in the forest. Slicing up the chunks is not as easy as it first appears. You must use hanging blocks that are suspended on ropes to blow up the ice and lava on the ground. The challenge is to figure out which ropes you need to cut in order to get the blocks to fall so they demolish the obstacles in your mammoth's path. The puzzles start off easy and gradually increase in difficulty.
As the mammoth meanders in the forest, he encounters new creatures and collects wild-looking hats that he wears on his walk. The animation is top-notch -- each character is incredibly adorable and the background music is delightfully catchy. Even as an adult, I found the game to be endearing and enjoyed playing myself.
Slice Fractions is a great puzzler, but you may be wondering how the concept of fractions fits into the game. For better or worse, the teaching of fractions within the app is subtle. There are no lessons on fractions or any concrete explanation on how fractions fit into the breaking up of ice and lava.
In fact, most of the early stages of the game are meant to introduce your child to solving the puzzles. It's only in the middle to latter stages that you see any mention of fractions, and even then it's up to the child to figure out (or the parent to point out) how the chunks on the ground represent a small part of a whole.
For example, the game may show four blocks of lava on the ground that are contained in a box with six parts, as shown above. Your child would have to notice that the blocks represent four out of six or 4/6. In my experience, my children focused on the puzzle part and completely missed the learning part, even when the fractions were written on the blocks.
Slice Fractions would work well if you had a parent or teacher who used the app as part of a formal lesson on fractions. The instructor could point out the math concepts to the child as he or she progressed through the game. The app is suitable for guided instruction, but it is not an independent learning app that you hand to your children with the expectation they will become a fraction whiz by the time they are done with all the levels.
Slice Fractions is an enjoyable game that challenges your child to solve complex puzzles, while teaching fractions on the side. It's a universal app that'll work on the iPad and iPhone and is available for US$2.99 from the iOS App Store. There are no ads and no in-app purchases.