What parents need to know
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.
What kids can learn
Engagement, Approach, Support
The app is well designed and colorful. Once kids understand how to use the tool, they'll find it to be helpful.
Just as with real-life manipulatives, the visual representation with fraction bars (or circles) can help kids build an understanding of a challenging concept.
Simple directions help kids navigate the app, but there's no real instructional support for kids, parents, or teachers.
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.
Families can talk 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.