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Friday, December 16, 2011

I See Cards Fractazmic Review

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I first heard of I See Cards last year when some lucky Crew members got to review another game of theirs.  Sadly, I wasn't one of those reviewers, but I See Cards had a generous offer to teachers last year, and I was able to get Pyramath and Prime Bomb, which are both great math related games that my kids love to play.  So when the chance to review another game from them came up, I jumped at the opportunity!

Fractazmic is a card game that teaches students numbers, fractions, and measurements. 

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The cards are divided into 3 "families" that are color coded, as you can see above.  The blue cards are fractions in the 12ths, 6ths, 4ths, 3rds, and halves.  The green ones are 10ths, 5ths, and halves.  And the red ones are 16ths, 8ths, 4ths, and halves.  As in the classic card game, Rummy, the goal is to make "books" out of the cards you are dealt.  However, in the case of Fractazmic, a book is a set of cards whose fractions add up to "1".  Sound easy?  Well, it's not, because the fraction card have mixed denominators and various numerators.   That means one book could contain the cards 1/8, 1/4, 1/4, 3/16, and 3/8.  There's an awful lot of computation involved in that- even for adults!  Thankfully, the cards contain very helpful graphics on them to help students (and their teachers) figure out what the value of their card is in terms of the greatest common denominator.  And it's because of those graphics that students can easily see the relationship between fractions and measuring in a "real world" way.  So, as the folks at I See Cards like to say:

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The Pros:  The cards are well made, and my other, older decks from I See Cards have stood up to a lot of use, and even some abuse.  The graphics are very cute and more importantly, very useful in the playability of the game.  In fact, once my daughter figured out how to make use of them, she was finally able to start making books and even tied with me.  My 10 year old son "got it" instantly and begs to play the game over and over.  He says it makes him feel smart, and I know it's teaching him more about fractions than any worksheet ever could.

The cons:  This game does have a learning curve- not for the rules, but for the development of the math skills to be able to easily see the "1" with so many options.  So while it teaches fractions in a fun, in depth sort of way, my non-math-inclined daughter found the game discouraging, and I had to make separate fraction charts for her that plainly showed the comparisons of each fraction family.  And my 6 year old, who generally insists on playing any game we play, was very sad to see that this game really is beyond her ability for now.  On the flip side, I am sure the more we play it, the easier it will get for my oldest daughter, and she will understand fractions in a way that eludes her now.  And my youngest will learn it through osmosis as the older kids begin to "get it" and see the "1s" more and more quickly.  The only other con I have is that the graphic for the 16th family is a half inch, which in the end, really only illustrates HALF the solution.  That confused my 12 year old more than once as she would think she had a book because the illustrations filled up the whole graphic, but forget that on those cards, the graphic is only showing half of the "1".  (For example, look at the red-rimmed card above.  The 1/4 is clearly covering HALF of the graphic, but that's not the WHOLE "1".  It takes 4- 1/4s to make a "1", but the picture seems to indicate it only takes 2.  Yet with the other two families, the graphic actually shows the whole "1" needing to be filled (a liter water bottle and an egg carton, each with 10 and 12 units respectively.)

The bottom line:  We've been very happy with all the card games we've played from I See Cards.  My kids have learned more about prime numbers from Prime Bomb than they ever knew before, and Pyramath is so versatile and gives them a math workout equal to their level of knowledge.  Fractazmic is taking a little longer to catch on, I think because it is actually just harder for my children to see fractions with different denominators and know which ones add up to one.  But I think that knowledge is important, and I can't imagine they'd rather learn it any other way. 

You can order Fractazmic (or either of the other two games I mentioned) for $6.95 per deck HERE.  To read what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received Fractazmic for free in order to be able to write this review.  That card game was the only compensation I received.
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