Friday, November 5, 2010

Singapore Math

There are three things that I think it's important to teach my children everyday- Bible, language, and math. I'm convinced that everything else is more about learning the process of learning than anything else. (I mean really, do you remember your 2nd grade social studies?) Math is an essential building block for many other subjects. It needs to be built upon gradually over time. Oh, the pressure to get it right!

There are so many math curriculum out there. Quite honestly, I chose this one because it was inexpensive. Prior to purchasing these books (again from a used curriculum website!), I made it up as I went along. I found a list of things that kids needed to know at different grade levels and worked through that. We could do more/less while playing with cars, we could do big/little while standing in line at the grocery store, we could do counting while setting the table. That's what I love about homeschooling- incorporating what they're learning into every day life. you can do this with a child who goes to a traditional school, too, as long as you know what material they are covering in class. It's the best way to learn- seeing how it plays out in real life. Eventually, we hit a point where I wanted to make sure I was covering everything and in an order that would help them later on, too. So, I found a Singapore Math text and have been using it as a teacher's guide. We still do the "daily life" math as before, I just have an organized plan behind it now!

However, my kids seem to like worksheets. (weird, huh?) So, I make those up on my own. Or buy a cheap workbook from Sam's Club. Or both. This summer we made counting sticks. We glued ten beans to a craft stick. Now we can practice counting by tens, learn about place value, etc. This year, my boys are starting in books 1A and 2A. Quinlan should be able to finish 1A before Christmas, and Zachary will work up to the multiplication section in 2A. We'll go through one sub-chapter each week, utilizing lots of games and manipulative ideas. We'll probably start some timed drills at their own levels in a few weeks.

My girls are learning math, too. Those cheap workbooks from Sam's Club come in handy, as do a number of free resources on the internet. Veronica (age 4) is learning simple addition and subtraction- both how to do it and how to write it. She's learning her shapes and calendar skills. Veronica loves having her own workbook, and how easily she can complete a page lets me know what we need to work on. If it's hard, we need to "play" more with that topic. Eleanor (age 2) is learning about counting and colors and shapes. Most of the math the girls are doing is learned through play. Each week I pick one thing to be intentional about. "Eleanor bring me a blue ball." and there we've just had a math lesson!

What math resources do you use and love? Have you ever used an abacus? I still don't know what that's all about. How can we moms incorporate math learning into our daily conversations with our children?

Internet Math Resources
Singapore Math
Hubbard's Cupboard
Free Math Worksheets
Right Start Math


  1. I use the abacus almost daily with Madeline for RightStart Math level B. The way the RightStart abacus is set up (which is different than both a traditional Asian abacus and the abacus you might see at Ikea or in a toy catalog), it is an excellent tool for visualizing quantities and for encouraging using strategies other than counting to find the answers to math problems.

    If you are curious about it, you can read more on these two pages at the RightStart site:

    I have told other friends that were curious about RightStart but already had a math program or didn't want to invest in the cost of RightStart to either check out just buying the Math Games kit or just the Abacus (which comes with an activity book that teaches how to use it). I think you could gain a lot of the benefits of RightStart by just doing one of those things. RightStart even has a Yahoo group where people buy/sell used items pretty often.

    LOL...I should get paid to promote them or something! ;-) I guess I have just been amazed at how fast Madeline is learned (and granted, I think she has some natural math ability...but the fact that using the abacus she can add two 4 digit numbers is just amazing! I know that isn't my skill as a teacher -- it is just laid out in the program).

    I think my mental math skills have even improved as we have used the program because I have seen lots of strategies that I never was taught and never thought of. Of course, a lot of the strategies I get excited about, Tony tells me that he has used all his life to do math without being taught them! I guess that just shows how smart he really is. :-)

  2. Thanks for the info about the abacus. I've been highly intrigued as I knew you and some others have been using it. I've been hearing lots of good things about Right Start Math, too. I think our next set of math materials will be an abacus and some other stuff from their site!