At-Home Learning | July 6, 2020

Summer Learning, Summer Fun with Cyberchase Fractions Quest

By Bob Krech

Summer is here! Time to get outside, get active, and have some fun! Time to keep learning too. Of course, this summer is going to be different for kids and families in quite a few ways. With new social distancing requirements in place due to COVID, there will be fewer in-person summer camps, classes, or educational events to attend. These are activities some students traditionally look forward to when school is out. They’re exciting, stimulating  experiences that keep kids thinking, learning, and engaged during the summer months. 

In fact, for students who are not engaged in summer learning, studies have shown that there is a very real phenomenon known as the “summer slide” where kids, because they are not reviewing or using material they have learned, will regress. If you don’t use it, you lose it, so to speak. This can be particularly true with concepts that are difficult for young learners, like fractions. A solid understanding of fractions underpins most all of the math students will encounter as they enter upper elementary grades and middle school, so it’s important to have a strong understanding. Students need to keep reviewing these concepts and skills to establish and maintain a solid foundation, but who wants to sit down and do another workbook? Not to worry. Cyberchase to the rescue!

THIRTEEN and FableVision have just released a free beta preview of a new online game to help families stave off the “summer slide.” Cyberchase Fractions Quest combines screen time, fun time, and learning time in an exciting online adventure. Set in the world of the popular PBS KIDS animated series in which three diverse kids use brain power, science, and math to save the day, the game introduces, explores, and reviews important fraction concepts for grades 3 and 4. Playing keeps kids learning while having fun. Each section of the game features a different fraction concept; fair shares, unit fractions, non-unit fractions, equivalent fractions, and estimation with fractions. It brings players into cyberworlds like underwater Aquari-yum and skate-boarding Radopolis as they practice fractions in unique problem-solving scenarios in three contexts; area (shapes), sets (groups) and on a number line. Students learn how to create, interpet, manipulate, and write about fractions. They get involved with fractions from every angle and thus develop a thorough understanding.

Fractions Quest is easy to access and begin playing right away. It’s intuitive, motivating, and makes you think rather than just complete tasks in a rote manner. Each section of the game begins with a helpful tutorial that teaches players about the fraction concept as well as the mechanics of the game. Players travel in their cybercoupes across cyberspace as they thwart the villainous Hacker’s plans and rescue their Cyberchase pals. Review and support scaffolding are built into each part of the game, so the action and learning are very individualized for each player. It’s fun, exciting, and an in-depth learning experience in an area where most all kids need at least some practice, helping kids stay in tune with fractions and be ready for school when it rolls around again.

One of the big ideas students learn through Fractions Quest is that the actual size or quantity of a fraction depends on the whole it is a fraction of. For example, ¼ of the water in a lake is a lot more than ¼ of the water in a bathtub. To emphasize this idea at home, gather some different sized round fruits, such as an orange, a cherry, a grape, and a melon. Talk about fourths as you cut an orange into four equal pieces. Now cut a cherry into four equal pieces. Put ¼ of the cherry next to ¼ of the orange and ask your child which is more and why. Help your students create other fractions using the fruits. Creating, discussing, manipulating, and comparing these physical examples is really helpful to developing this understanding. This helps  greatly later as students think about fractions of numbers and how ¼ of 100 (25) is going to be larger than ¼ of 20 (5) just like ¼ of the orange was more than ¼ of the cherry.

So, here it is. The special free beta release of Cyberchase Fractions Quest to help families keep that learning going when it’s needed most. Enjoy!

Bob Krech is a writer and consultant on elementary math. A former elementary teacher, supervisor, and curriculum developer, he has written more than thirty books for teachers and parents and is a recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. He is the math advisor for the award-winning PBS children’s television series, Cyberchase.