My Pals Are Here! – Maths

Following up on my earlier, excited, post here is a first look at the new maths books.

I gave Miss Oh Waily the choice of which set to begin with, and naturally she chose the red set (it’s the closest colour to pink, after all).  So we have started off with My Pals Are Here! Maths.

Miss Oh's Choice

Sorry about the photo.  I should have thought about the red on red beforehand.  Anyway, another attraction for Miss Oh were the cute characters inside.  Her favourite (unsurprisingly) being Koogol – that’d be the fuzzy pink one on the right hand side.

Cute characters

Last Monday we started out on our new maths adventure and so far it is going fairly well.  Miss Oh isn’t keen on structured, sit-down (sit still) learning but she is coping with it for the most part.  I’ve been keeping it short – one chapter or section at a time – as seems sensible.

Here’s the contents page for the pupil’s book for you to get an idea of what they cover.  We are pretty much at the end of the Number Bonds chapter after 10 days. (A total of 5 sessions – today’s being shortened due to Miss Oh being a little under the weather.)
Pupil book contents

Next up is the first contents page of the workbook that accompanies the pupil’s book.  It’s all fairly straightforward and there are notes and identifiers (as though you actually need them) to tell you which part of the workbook corresponds to the pupil’s book.
Practice contents

Finally, here are a couple of pages in the workbook relating to counting 1 to 10.
Practice example

We’re currently breezing our way through these exercises with very little difficulty.  At the moment we are really learning how to read and follow instructions, as well as understand how exercise books are set out more than anything else.

Admittedly, if you haven’t been teaching anything to your children in the maths area you will not be whizzing through a section a day (or every second day).  You will be needing to work on the basics of counting, number identification (both numeral and written) and similar.   And, frankly, until very recently I would not have thought to teach number bonds.  Having read about Singapore Maths I decided to add those in to our semi-regular maths/writing/Classical Education session a while back though so Miss Oh Waily is familiar with them.

You will most probably need to supplement the exercise and pupil’s book with more exercises of a similar nature.  We’ve done a lot of number bonds in the past so the ones we are currently doing in the book are very straightforward.  There are many free resources on the internet to help you do this, plus there are the old stand-bys of your own word processor and some simple images.

If, like me, you find that there might be areas that aren’t well understood (number patterns in a graphic form) then this set of books will show it up and you can find other resources to help cover them until you are satisfied that your little person has got it.

The only other issue with the books is the fact that they have the connector blocks (see the image on the front page) as a method of teaching the concepts, along with a nifty number balance scale.  In our home we’ve used some simple manipulatives (wooden ladybugs) and small, square, lego blocks as alternatives.  There’s not much I can do to replicate the number balance scale, but it doesn’t seem to have thrown Miss Oh so unless it becomes more important later we won’t need to figure out an alternative.

So far so good is my assessment of this set.  Miss Oh even likes to colour in her workbook pictures so it keeps it closer to being ‘fun’ rather than ‘work’ most of the time.

What do you use to teach maths?  How have you found it?  (Or, how does your local school teach maths?  And does it work for your little person?)


They’ve arrived

Yes, the maths books I was waiting for from Singapore have finally arrived.  I was rather excited by that this morning.  So here are some photographs…

Here is my chunky little box of goodies…

It's arrived

I might have been just a little bit excited. I even took photos as we opened the box.

Open Box

I love getting books. Have I mentioned that before? I must have.  Surely.

So here are the two sets of books laid out. We will give both of them a fair trial and see which one comes out on top for keeping Miss Oh’s interest and is the easiest to use and understand. That will probably be the most difficult thing to figure out since the maths is pretty darned basic in the first half of the year – she’ll know nearly all of it and will probably whizz through the coursework books for that.  Still, I thought it best to begin at the beginning and make sure I covered all of the bases.

Shaping maths

As you can see, each set consists of one course book and two workbooks for each half of the year.

My Pals Are Here!

It will be interesting to see if the all-singing-all-dancing-all-coloured set of Shaping Maths will win out over the coloured course book and black and white work books of My Pals Are Here!

Reviews and comments will follow once we are under way with them.  In the mean time, if you have chosen to use formal instruction (in addition to real life maths learning) what did you chose and why?  Has it been working for you?

Maths Resources

I’m sure we come across as a little maths crazy in this house.  Well isn’t that a good thing?  I’d rather be saying that than the opposite.

So to keep the enthusiasm up, here are our latest batch of maths resources.  First, this wonderful website that I came across through one of my HE groups.  The printable charts are fantastic.  It is called A Maths Dictionary for Kids.

The books that are on their way to us from Singapore are the first year of each of these two series: My Pals Are Here! and Shaping Maths.   I was unsure which of these would work for my kids so I chose to get both.  Once we have these we will be able to figure out which follow-up years to buy.
The reason for choosing these two series is fairly straightforward, they are currently on the approved textbook lists for Singaporean schools.  And since they are at the top of the list for this area of learning it seems to be sensible to assess their methods to see if they would work for us too.
I’m hoping that these will arrive tomorrow, as per the estimated arrival date of the courier.

From our local library we have Maths for Fun: Measuring Sizes out of which both Oh Waily children are insisting we do multiple activities.  So we shall.  Hopefully I will remember to take photographs and show you what and how we got on.

What maths resources do you (and your kids) love, and why?

The Week Ahead

I’m rather looking forward to this week.

On Tuesday, approximately, we should be getting our new shoes from Amazon.  Then on Thursday, courier-willing, we should get our shipment of Singapore Maths books from Singapore.
At the end of this week our new bookshelf should also be in the country and shortly on its way to us.

All in all, a busy time for small things here at the Patch.

I’m especially excited and interested to see just what the Singaporean textbooks are actually like.  I feel rather like Christmas has come a few weeks early, for me at least.  I’ll let you know if and when everything arrives (partly the evil that is NaBloPoMo post inspiration failure, and partly genuine excitement), and what I think of it.

We also have our regular Tuesday swimming slot, and perhaps I shall see about getting some decent video off my phone to show you how the Miss is progressing in this department.

Other than that, it is looking to be a quiet week around our place.

What’s happening at your place this week?

Mental Maths

Just who is mental about maths?
Or is that a condemnation of a whole section of humankind’s scientific endeavours?


It is the sound of a mum very happy to see her daughter manage to do her first (probably second or third, in reality) batch of mental maths.  Mental subtraction, to be precise.

Miss Oh Waily has been able to do abstract, in the head, simple addition for some time.  We hadn’t been working on the subtraction side verbally as much though.  Then a short while ago, as I mentioned earlier, we started to use Khan Academy to give her some confidence and regular practice at basic maths.

She felt very wobbly about the subtraction equations so I used a combination of the solid (our ladybugs) and the pictorial (a number line) to help her get the hang of doing subtraction equations.  At first she grizzled about having to do it, but today when I saw how fast she did the set of equations and asked her what she was doing, she was as proud as punch when she showed me that she could do them without the number line to help now.

Naturally I was rather chuffed for her.  It’s a great mental leap from using your fingers to ‘knowing’ the answer automatically.  In less than a couple of weeks, I’d say.  Fantastic effort Miss Oh !!

She didn’t even complain too much when I suggested we watch the double digit addition video, so she must have been very pleased with herself and brimming with confidence.

I will also confess to being a little gushy when I saw what she was doing.  Poor thing, smooshed with hugs and kisses.  Who’d have a mother, eh?  So now I will try to prod her (very gently, of course) on to the next stage and see how she goes with slightly larger numbers.

When did you notice your kids starting to do mental arithmetic?  And what did you do to help them get there?

Introduction to Mathematics

We have a little girl with a love of numbers in this house, so it seems perfectly natural that we should add mathematics in to our schooling fairly early on.
By “add-in”, what I really mean is work on numbers in a more formal way.  And by “formal” I really mean in a more thoughtful and structured way.

I have learned, having now reached Lesson 5 in the Classical Education curriculum, that flexibility is what home education is all about.  I knew that, but I had not quite internalised it.  What I have learned in the past couple of weeks is that having a requirement to complete certain aspects of work, when they hold no interest, sucks the enjoyment and learning out of a child.
knew that too.  I just needed to see it in action for it to stick in my mind a bit better.  So, now I have a more relaxed and cunning approach to learning more formally.  Is that an oxymoron?  Relaxed – Formal?

Anyway, we are moving in to the world of mathematics.  Recently I decided that I liked the idea of using the Singaporean style of teaching mathematics.  They have consistently ranked #1 or close enough, in the world in this area.  That makes me suspect that they might have a good approach.  And they are fairly aspirational for the skills their schoolkids can master after each year.    To that end I used a placement test to see how well Miss Oh Waily was doing, and just where in the grand scheme of things we should be starting.  Turns out that she is doing pretty well in this department.

For those who may be interested in looking at this option, here are some links to click through on.

Chariot Press – Singapore Maths introduction page.  This should give you some idea of what this style of maths teaching is about and, helpfully, the placement tests.  Or, you could go directly to the horse’s mouth and visit the Singaporean Ministry of Education and read their documents.   The primary curriculum, including outcomes can be found here.  And if you want a cut down version, then the American supplier have a great scope and sequence document here.

For the last couple of weeks or so we have been working on number bonds, both addition and subtraction.  Haven’t heard about number bonds? (Like me when I started reading.)  This site has a clear description.  And this site has an excellent printable that can save you the time and effort of making your own.  I’ve been using it to good effect so far.
What I have discovered though, is that the novelty wears off and the plain number bond sheets turn in to uninteresting work.  I am now using everyone’s favourite children’s entertainer, Disney, to give maths work a bit of pizazz.

The Pixie Hollow Fairies featuring Tinkerbell, of Peter Pan origins, are now being used to stimulate interest in doing maths again.  I use fairy images to create simple equation sheets, and lately ordinal number practice sheets.  This seems, so far, to be a good way to make the more difficult and less visually attractive number bond sheet palatable.

Oh, and I let Miss Oh draw and colour in parts of the sheets too.  And use her mother’s favourite and special pen.*
So now I ask her, “Do you want to do some Fairy Maths?” and the answer is invariably, “Yes”.

Here is our latest version (I make them up each time using the same document), photographed for your viewing pleasure.  Don’t sue me Mr Disney, I can’t help it if your pretty fairies entice my daughter to do maths equations most days.

Fairy Maths

We have been doing other maths things too.  I have started to work on the place values idea with Miss Oh.  She recognises the numbers up and into the hundreds and often identifies the number correctly, but the concept of the place values hasn’t really sunk in.  But I will keep that for next time, along with any progress I might make on actually sourcing textbooks and workbooks that are used in Singapore for their maths curriculum.  We may not “follow the textbook” at home, should I manage to get a hold of one, but we will certainly be looking at it for inspiration.

What do you do at home to teach mathematics or encourage a love of numbers ?

*Please note that this is not my most favourite and most special pen, but the second place getter.  My first place being a Lamy Safari fountain pen which my beloved daughter will not be getting her hands on any time soon.