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TOS Crew Review — Master Fractions

December 1st, 2010

Master Fractions has transparent overlays, makes using fractions easy to see.

Children unknowingly work with fractions from a very young age. They divide their matchbox cars with a friend. They share an apple with a sibling. They are told to “eat half of your sandwich” before being excused. And yet, so many of them struggle to make connections to those real life situations once the math book is in front of them.

Master Innovations has come up with a variety of visual tools to help keep their learning concrete. It all started with a ruler, and now they help with fractions, telling time, and angles as well. Here is a quick video on their fractions manipulative:

Basically, this handy little tool allows kids to see equivalencies in fractions with the flip of a page.  Anything that gives kids a new perception to a problem that has them stumped is of high value, and these innovative “books” can do just that.

Master Fractions has transparent overlays, makes using fractions easy to see.

Product: Master Fractions from Master Innovations

Details: Master Fractions books come in a set of three. One illustrates halves (then broken into 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16), thirds (divided further into 1/6, 1/12) and fifths (broken down into 1/10 and 1/20). They also sell a corresponding workbook that helps your child best understand what they are seeing in the various fraction tools. And, they offer a measuring poster that covers a variety of measures with everyday objects to help kids get a better handle on what various measures are worth and how to estimate them using everyday objects (fingers, buttons, etc.)
Price: Set of three books is $17.95, workbook is another $15.95 (reproducible) and the poster is $10.

What we loved . . .

  • Hands on. This tool is a great visual for kids that need to see it to comprehend it. The workbook offers additional activities and images for making fractions make sense.
  • Durable. The little fraction books are made of sturdy plastic sheets that can be flipped, reflipped, drawn on, wiped clean, and still look great for the next time around.
  • Colorful. Visual kids need something that grabs them. These handy math teachers are full of color in the midst of their practical application.
  • Good for a variety of ages. One problem I often run into with tools that are helpful to reteach topics to older students is that they might seem babyish. Not so with these Master Fractions. The images are good without being overly cartoony and they are appealing to the first grader first learning fractions just as much as they are for the older student trying to master them again.
  • Incorporates real life. The problems in the workbook do a great job of bringing fractions home with the word problems and with the suggested activities.

Some considerations . . .

  • Not self-explanatory. When I first opened the box I thought it was a cool little gadget, but couldn’t quite see the application. The workbook helps some, but you do need to spend some time reading the teaching tips and looking it over to see how the tools really help solve problems.
  • Limited shapes. The workbook covers more shapes, but the tools only show circles, squares, and rectangles. That is good enough to help the student get going, but some students might still struggle transferring the knowledge to triangles and other polygons.

Master Innovations has definitely hit on a unique product with their Master Fractions. While it is isolated to one topic (fractions) it is one that many students struggle with and the products can be used and reused many times making them a good longer term purchase.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Master Innovations as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

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