Virtual Manipulatives!

App review by
ADK AccessAbility, Common Sense Media
Virtual Manipulatives! App Poster Image
Kids get hands on with fractions; guidance needed at first.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about fractions, equivalency, and comparing decimals and percentages with Virtual Manipulatives. The color-coded barsor pie shapes snap together, and when clicked, an equivalent will appear in a bubble to support learning of equivalencies. In each of the three categories (percents, fractions, and decimals), colors are the same. For example, 1/5 is the same green color as .2 or 20 percent. With an adult's guidance, kids can use Virtual Manipulatives to help build their understanding of some challenging math concepts.

Ease of Play

Virtual Manipulatives has simple instructions on the opening screen, but kids will need guidance to learn how to use the tools. Once they understand, it's easy to move the tools around -- just touch them and drag them wherever you want. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

A small "more apps" button, when tapped, asks if you want to visit the apps in iTunes. Choosing "yes" will take you out of the app and into the App Store. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids -- especially those unfamiliar with fraction bars -- will need an adult's help to get started with Virtual Manipulatives. The app is simply the use of manipulatives to help kids visually understand the relationships among percentages, fractions, and decimals. Used with support, this visually engaging math app can help kids grasp a concept that can be difficult for many children. 

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What's it about?

Kids will need a grown-up's help in the beginning to understand how to manipulate the tabs and bars (or circles, if you choose) to show the connections among fractions, decimals, and percentages. After the initial learning curve, kids will be able to snap boxes together and line them up to convert percentages, fractions, and decimals with independence.

Is it any good?

VIRTUAL MANIPULATIVES is a solid math app with a focused purpose: to help learners visually understand the relationships among percentages, fractions, and decimals. Kids who use fraction bars/tiles at school will probably know what to do with the app and may find it to be a great homework helper. Otherwise, you'll need to explain the how and why for using this tool before kids will get much out of it. This is where the app falls short: It doesn't offer any guidance to parents on how to use the app with their kids.

But if you're able to meet that challenge, Virtual Manipulatives can make a tough concept a bit more easy to understand for kids with a variety of learning styles, with visual representations that kids can use their hands to manipulate. It's colorful, well designed, and free, making it a good addition to your math apps collection.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Support kids with an initial demonstration of equivalency and conversions; you'll need to use sources outside the app for tips.

  • Encourage kids to make "pizza" using the pie-shaped pieces or "candy bars" with the bars to discover that the more parts in a whole, the smaller the individual pieces.

App details

  • Device: iPad
  • Subjects: Math: fractions
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: July 5, 2012
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 7.90 MB
  • Publisher:
  • Version: 1.4
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love math

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