Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Review of Singapore Math Essentials

We have been using Singapore Math Essentials this year for DD5's kindergarten math. All my other children used Rightstart A for kindergarten, but that book was so beat-up, falling apart, missing pages, and basically destroyed.... that it was pretty much useless. To replace it would have been pricey. I was also not sure that I was up for something so teacher-intensive this year.

Anyway, after a lot of research,  I went with Singapore Essentials. It is pretty well reviewed on forums and the price is great-less than $10 a book and you only need two books for the year!

At first DD5 loved SE and wanted to do many pages at a sitting. The beginning of the book has lots of fun, easy activities, like this one. Here she matched birds and colored shapes that matched in each row. At the bottom of each page are ideas for introducing the lesson, plus a short extension activity. In this case, you are asked to set up pairs of actual objects for the child to match, and to draw shapes on a whiteboard for the child to match. The extension activity is to ask the child to explain the reasoning they used to complete the page.

So, the beginning of the book has lots of super easy activities that I would say the average kindergartener could fly right through. It would probably be possible to start this book (Book A) in preschool if you wanted.Very little writing is required in the beginning of the book. Instead the child is asked to cross out, draw lines, circle, or trace.

A few units in, we began to learn to count up to five and to recognize the numbers 1 through 5. She was happy just to do the pages off and on and we very rarely did the suggested activities.

 After a while, writing numbers was introduced, which was not popular with DD5, so math became not as fun. I considered doing something more hands-on for math and began researching my options. Then I remembered that we hadn't been doing the activities suggested in that tiny print at the bottom of each page!

Once we started doing the related activities again, math became much more fun for her. For the pages below, the activity suggestions included learning the rhyme "One potato, two potato" and counting actual objects. We often use a set of plastic counters for this, like the bug counters from Rainbow Resource.

Anyway, fast forward to now, when we are actually doing the little activity at the bottom of each page before doing the page. Math is now fun and meaningful for her! I also act as her scribe when writing numbers is required, unless she wants to do it. Usually it causes a lot of frustration, so I don't push it. Much more important to keep math light and pleasant at this age! We also don't do math every day, only when she wants to. Don't tell her older sibs that!

We are about half-way through Book A now, on Unit 8 of 16. We have been learning about shapes. She likes to look around the house and find the shapes we are discussing in the book. This activity is often suggested for this unit.

I am not sure yet if I will stick with Singapore in the long run for DD5, but it is working for now. I would not hesitate to recommend this program if you are looking for something with a bit of a hands-on component that is not terribly teacher intensive.

Check out the link on the Singapore site for more about Singapore Essentials A & B. There is a list of what is covered in each book, plus a few samples to look over. 

Till Next Time!


  1. Thanks Kim! I hope I can order Singapore Essentials too. I already have a book from http://www.msainstitute.com.

  2. Thanks for sharing with us. We also used Singapore math before. Based on our experience, however, it was fairly challenging. My son refused to use the workbook since sometimes it was difficult for him to understand those names in word problems. I know a solid foundation is very crucial for future study. After thoughtful consideration, I let him switch to regular US math.
    My teacher friend recommended Beestar to me. It's a home learning site offering many core subject programs and the math program is totally free.
    I subscribed to it for my son and asked him to complete Beestar's weekly math practice on time. At first he didn't want to do it because he hated math but, in just a couple of months, I found I didn't need to push him any more. He had gained interest for math. It was a big surprise for me. I looked at the practice questions and found they were designed very attractive. Many had vivid pictures to give a hint. The reward system keeps students motivated, including weekly ribbons and honor rolls, etc. I think it's helpful to make students confident.
    Last month, his teacher suggested him to try Beestar's GT math program. He was very excited. I think he can handle it as long as he likes math as he is now.


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