## Wednesday, December 14, 2011

### Review: Fractazmic

When I was probably around 10 or 11, I started playing Rummy (and later Gin Rummy) with my grandma.  Well, Grandma and whoever else we could rope into playing with us.  I loved the game.  Some luck, some strategy, some making inferences based on what other people are discarding... and attention to detail.

I loved it.  And Grandma didn't coddle anyone.  At least not past the first couple games where she was teaching someone to play and we all had our hands showing.  In those hands, you could get away with not discarding the card she needed... but she would always explain why she was discarding the card you needed... because 'if we were playing for real, I wouldn't know you needed it, and this is the least valuable card in my hand and here is why.'

When she thought you understood the game, we'd start keeping our hands to ourselves... and it would be a long time before any of us kids won again.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the game... until recently, when I've been playing a game from I See Cards with my bigger boys.  Fractazmic.  One version is a lot like Rummy, only it is easier.  And harder too. I better explain, huh?

Fractazmic consists of a deck of 60 cards, split into 3 suits: tenths, twelfths and sixteenths, with each suit being a different color.  The tenth suit includes cards that have fractions that can be converted to tenths... either tenths, fifths or one-half.  The twelfth suit can be converted to twelfths, and it includes twelfths, sixths, fourths, thirds and one-half.  The sixteenth, similarly, consists of sixteenths, eighths, fourths and one-half.

(As an aside... I LOVE the suits they have chosen.  I think learning to deal with converting fractions is important... but the ones I am likely to use in real life are all pretty much covered here...  tenths pop up everywhere.  Twelfths (includes 1/4 and 1/3) I use daily.  And sixteenths (well, the 1/4 and 1/8 part) pop up fairly often too.  So my kids getting really comfortable with these specific fractions is great.  And if they are comfortable with this, on the rare, weird occasion when they need to add 1/7 plus 1/9, they'll be able to how to figure it out, because combining fractions will no longer be so intimidating.)

The basic idea is to lay down sets that equal ONE, within a single suit/color.  So the 1/4, 1/3,  1/12, and two 1/6 cards would work... assuming they are all blue.

Each suit has a different graphic... the twelfth one is the easiest... an egg carton.  The 1/2 card has a carton with 6 eggs in it.  A 5/12 card would have an egg carton with 5 eggs in it, etc.  The cards are cute... and definitely help the kids to be visualizing the fractions.  The tenth suit is a one liter bottle, marked off in 10ths.  The 16th suit is a ruler.  All have adorable little bugs on them.

Why is this easier than Rummy?  Well... you only have one goal -- making ones.  None of the decisions about whether to use the 10 of hearts in a 3 of a kind, or whether to use it to make a run of of 8, 9, 10 of hearts...  all you are focusing on is making it total 1.

Here's my kids playing.  What has been really interesting about this is that William (the one in the blue flannel) has done really well at this... usually beating his big brother.  Thomas (the one moping) took a few games before some things "clicked" for him in figuring out strategy.  This photo was taken while he was still in that pre-click stage... you know, the "this is awful, I hate it, my brothers always beat me, I hate this" phase.

Since having that a-ha moment though, he is actually finding the game fun.  In fact, he won the game the four of us played.

There is another version of the game too:  Trap.  In this one, the first player lays down a card, and each player then has to lay down another card in the same suit.  The goal is to either make 1, or force the player after you to go over 1.

Trap is easier to play, because you can coach younger kids along as you go.  "Okay, so if we add this up, we have 13/16... what would we need to get to one?" The coaching doesn't really take away from the fun of playing the game, and it gives a chance to model the fraction conversions.

I adore this set of cards.  I really want to be able to purchase the other two math games that I See Cards carries... Pyramath (which was reviewed by the Crew last year, but I wasn't on it) and Prime Bomb.  At \$6.95 each, the price is reasonable.  And this game is FUN (and educational too).

I wish I could purchase both now, as they'd make fabulous stocking stuffers.  I will be getting them in 2012 though.  Sometime.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive this game for the purpose of a review.  All opinions are my own.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.