Help With Fractions

My Kid Needs Help With Fractions.

What's a Good Way to Explain Fractions? Here, a watermelon has been cut into halves, quarters, and eighths.

Cheer up! There’s a lot of help with fractions coming their way. You can help your kid, and we can help you help them. This website has page after page devoted to clear explanations of topics related to fractions. What we don’t have is pages of worksheets and problem assignments. You probably already have those; in fact they probably brought you here. And besides, we make an arcade-style game that helps replace some of the worksheets.

Why Are Fractions So Frustrating?

Parent and child frustrated with fractions homework.

Working on math away from school can always be a trying task to accomplish. Fractions require a variety of skills, and some of those skills are best learned with repetition practice (commonly referred to as “drill.”) So, teachers give their students standardized worksheets and flashcards. Unfortunately, worksheets leave kids bored and uninterested. Bored uninterested kids don’t want to finish their assignments. When kids don’t want to do their assignments, parents become frustrated.

But we’ve got to do it. Kids have to get good at math. Fractions are important. They’re taught when kids are young because it’s such an important part of a strong math foundation. You need fractions in almost all later math study, including topics like algebra and probability.

But, before we talk specifically about fractions, here’s some more general homework advice that can really make a difference.

6 Tips for Helping With Homework in General

Father helping son with homework.

  • Stay calm. You will think more clearly, your kids will think more clearly, and they will learn to stay calm when working on math.
  • Take as many breaks as necessary, especially when frustrations arise, but keep the breaks short.
  • Keep your sense of humor in play. Puns are good. Jokes are great. Sarcasm is best to avoid even if funny. You probably have a pretty good idea of what your kids will think is funny.
  • Don’t try to do too much in one day.
  • Try to do a little of their homework yourself first before helping your kids. It will give you confidence, and they will observe you.
  • If your kids don’t want to listen to you, or homework always ends with tears, hire a tutor, even if it’s only occasional. Since they aren’t family members, tutors can bypass some homework drama.

What’s A Good Way To Explain Fractions?

One of the reasons fractions can frustrate students is that they are more abstract than previous math work. A great way to help explain anything abstract is to give concrete examples. For concrete examples of fractions, we need something we can easily cut and divide up. That leads naturally to food.

That’s why pizza often comes up when talking about fractions. When fractions start to get confusing and frustrating, remember to switch to talking about pizza! It’s an example everyone can understand, and it reduces stress. Before any delicious pizza is cut, you’ve got a whole pizza. One pizza. (Notice that we’re using math words!) A slice down the middle creates two halves or 1/2 + 1/2. More slices create more fractions to practice with. Who knew we could have pizza in the name of math! What a great excuse to get together and break bread over math.

A Brussel Sprout pizza cut into 10 slices with 3 moved out to show the fraction of three tenths.

Isn’t There An Easier Way?

Sometimes when something seems hard, it can help to step back and work not on the thing itself, but on specific parts of it. Once the parts are in good shape, the whole thing gets much easier. That’s where our math game, Bubbly Primes, comes in.

You may ask “How can Bubbly Primes help with fractions? Isn’t it a prime numbers game?” The main focus of Bubbly Primes is to identify which numbers are prime, by allowing prime bubbles to rise to the top un-popped. However, when you pop a composite number, you break it down into that number’s factors until it cannot be factored any more. This seemingly simple drill can make an big difference. Practicing and visualizing which factors make up different numbers is an important key to success with fractions.

How Does Bubbly Primes Work?

Let’s say you’re in the middle of enjoying a fun round of Bubbly Primes and the bubble “81” comes up. You would pop the bubble so it turns into two “9” bubbles; pop both of the “9” bubbles and you would be left with a total of four “3” bubbles; the 3’s are the prime factors of 81. You let them float to the top, gaining points. But if you try to pop an un-poppable prime number, it will sink to the bottom, losing points. Breaking down numbers as far as possible, known as prime factorization, is key to understanding what numbers are made of, and that’s key to understanding fractions.

A scene from the math game Bubbly Primes, in which the number 81 is to be factored.

Are You Having Fun?

Games are naturally fun. Whether your child is just starting fractions, having success but needs more speed, or is currently having difficulty, Bubbly Primes helps them and their frustrated parents. The combination of math practice by drill with our unique and fun arcade game produces more productive screen time and the skills needed to build a strong math foundation. Kids learn best through play – give Bubbly Primes a try today!

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