Adventures with Singapore Math 2A

Bailey is almost finished with Singapore Math 1B; she only has a few weeks left to go.  But we’ll still have about eight weeks left in our semester once it’s done.  I just got my materials in for 2A:  textbook, workbook, and home instructor’s guide.  It took me two days, but I finally got everything more or less plotted out.

Let me start by saying that I like to organize the math in my own way.  The Singapore textbooks offer prompts about when you should move to the workbook for a specific set of exercises, but sometimes they do this multiple times in the course of one page.  I find it very annoying to flip between the two books constantly.  Plus sometimes in the past we’ve been able to completely skip the textbook explanations and move straight to the workbook exercises.

So for 1A and 1B I just went through in a Word document and broke it down into a numbered list of the minimal amount of textbook or workbook work I thought we could do in a day.  Then I would cross off each thing as it was completed.  I could easily look ahead as to what was coming next and decide if I wanted to do some practice worksheets/activities as filler before starting something new.

It immediately became apparent to me that second grade math was going to be a whole new ball of wax.  For one thing Bailey often used to do a minimum of two workbook exercises in one sitting, but the workbook exercises in 2A seem to be twice as long.  2A also covers more difficult topics like addition of double and triple digit numbers and multiplication by twos and threes.  I think these are going to require more practice and therefore more time.  Bailey really needs to get her addition and subtraction math facts through 20 down sooner rather than later.  And then she’ll need to memorize her multiplication tables for twos and threes before we move to 2B.

For first grade, I just had a straight numbered list that went from start to finish.  This time I made a separate list for each of the five units.  My sequences for 1A and 1B were each one page, front and back.  My 2A sequence is six pages (the last page is actually a list of some things I wanted to reference quickly).  My 1B sequence has 68 “lessons”; 2A has 130.  For first grade we’ve done math 4 days a week, which means that I could have gone through all of 1B in one 17-week semester.  I would need almost twice that long to get through all of 2A in one semester.  Can you hear the wheels in my brain turning manically as I try to figure out how in the world we will get it all done before next Christmas?

I’m pretty sure that we can do the 14 “lessons” of Unit 1 during the remaining eight weeks of our semester.  Then I plan to really work on drilling Bailey in addition and subtraction math facts through 20 using a mixture of worksheets, flashcards, score-keeping games, and possibly Sporcle.  Unit 2 is 39 lessons of intense subject matter, so I think over the summer we are going to skip to Unit 3 (Length) and Unit 4 (Weight) which are only 21 lessons combined and continue drilling math facts.

This leaves Unit 2, 5, and 6 for the fall semester totaling 95 lessons.  We’ll probably have to step up to doing math 5 days a week in the Fall Semester and hope that we’re able to do more than one lesson on some days.  Even if we don’t finish it all before Christmas, we shouldn’t go over too far.  I would much rather go over the timetable than rush ourselves too much and Bailey not learn what she needs to learn properly.

Now technically, 2A isn’t that much bigger than 1B.  2A has only a few more textbook lessons, and it actually has a few less workbook exercises.  However, the 2A textbook also has 24 extensive practice and review sections (an extra six weeks of work by our old standards).  I also added 9 Mental Math worksheets and 13 math games from the home instructor’s guide.  While not absolutely necessary, I think they will definitely add to Bailey’s experience and understanding.  This is another reason why our 2A sequence is so long.

And what of this home instructor’s guide?  Home instructor’s guides just recently became available in the past couple of years, especially for the younger grades.  This was my first year buying one, and I am really glad that I did.  First of all, it offers a suggested sixteen-week schedule.  That’s way more intensive than I think Bailey could handle with her temperament, but it offers a nice overview of how the textbook and workbook go together along with a few other things.  The book then breaks down each unit with objectives, notes and explanations (as a refresher for the teaching parent), instructional ideas, answer keys for textbook exercises, and game ideas to reinforce concepts.  There are also 32 Mental Math worksheets in the back.

The suggestions for more hands-on activities and games were something I really needed, because I’m not good at coming up with those or incorporating them on the fly.  Bailey is more of a hands-on learner than I have ever been.  So not only does the home instructor’s guide (HIG) offer those, but it more or less tells me where to put them.  I also added notes for each unit of my sequence with teaching ideas and a materials list.  I will keep the HIG handy for game instructions, but I don’t want to have flip constantly between three books for everyday lessons.

So, it’s been a lot of work, and I still have to plot out sequence sheets for math fact drills and a general schedule for our summer session, keeping the new baby in mind of course.  But I feel a big weight is off by having the over-all sequence finished.  And when I set up a lot of my big sequences, whether for math or history, I know that they will be all ready when I need them for the other children down the road.  I am sure, though, that it will be a new adventure with each kid.

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3 Comments on “Adventures with Singapore Math 2A”

  1. Enbrethiliel Says:

    +JMJ+

    Interesting! You’re the first person familiar with Singapore Maths whom I’ve run into. Or at least the first fellow adult. (Should I count the sixth-grade boy who does Singapore Maths at school and whom I tutor?)

    I know I like how clear his textbooks and workbooks are–especially since I remember how confused I was by Maths in the sixth grade. I just wonder a bit that he seems to be doing the same exercises his brother, who goes to a different school, is doing in the fifth-grade. (His brother’s workbooks are much more complicated!)

    Why did you decide to use Singapore Maths? =)

    • barboo77 Says:

      Actually, Kelly from Visits to Candyland also uses Singapore Math with her children. She initially made me aware of it. It is not that uncommon though amongst homeschoolers. I chose Singapore partly because I liked the format and cost..thin textbooks and workbooks. I also like how it encourages the use of hands-on activities and manipulatives, which is just right for my oldest daughter. The international results of the program are impressive as well.


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