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Sansu Math, Grade 4 Set Review by Jacquelin Caffey

Student Book, Two Teachers Books
Koyo Publishing

In Japan the most widely used math program in the elementary grades is the Sansu Math series. This series is an adaptation of the Tokyo Shoseki series New Mathematics that adheres to the country’s Ministry of Education’s Course of Study. For US educators, topics such as money and measurement are also studied for mastery.

Instead of focusing on a wide variety of topics within a grade level, Sansu Math chooses to focus only on a selective number of topics. This method allows for greater teaching topics in depth in a spiral learning fashion. The slow, repetitive pacing of the program allows students to master concepts such as reasoning, problem solving, representation, and justification fully before moving on to a new topic.

The 4th grade set includes two hardcover teacher’s books and paperback student workbook and includes 173 lessons meant to take roughly forty-five minutes to teach. The included over view table of contents is color-coded and lists the “most important” Grade 4 topics with a green bullet while other topics are denoted with a golden yellow bullet. Topics covered in Grade 4 include:

Structure of Large Numbers

Size of Angles

Division Algorithm – 1 digit Divisors

Perpendicular/Parallel Lines and Quadrilaterals

Broken Line Graphs

Structure of Decimal Numbers

Division Algorithm – 2 digit Divisors

How to organize Data

Properties of Operations

How to measure and express area


Investigating Changes

Approximate Numbers

Multiplication and Division of Decimal Numbers

Calculations with Money

Cubes and Cuboids

Let’s Play with Shapes

Mathematical Field Trip

The lessons in this book are taught using structured problem solving (SPS) which is typical of Japanese math education. When teaching in a typical SPS style students tackle mathematical tasks independently before they work together as a class to present, demonstrate, and explain their understanding of concepts. The main goal of SPS teaching is to not merely to solve the problem and find the answer, but to strengthen mathematical habits of the mind.

If this sounds like an overwhelming task, don’t let it be because the Teacher’s Guide helps you along the way through the steps to teaching the lesson:

  1. Grasping the problem
  2. Independent problem solving
  3. Discussion
  4. Summary

The Teacher’s Guide also contains detailed lesson plans that mirrors the Student textbook. The student textbook includes detailed, colorful lesson pages that are visually appealing, yet not too busy. The Teacher’s Guide comes in two separate volumes, A and B, and retails for $35. each while the Student textbook retails for $25.

Because math is more fun when hands-on manipulatives are added a helpful list is provided in the introduction to include:

Set squares




Centimeter graph paper

Base-10 unit cards (1s, 0.1s, 0.01s)

Place-value chart

1-L measuring cup

Numeral cards

And graph paper

Overall, we are having a great time using this math program as a supplemental program 3 times a week with my 4th grader. We work our regular math program and then work the Sansu Math lesson later on during the day, or in some cases we swap, just depending on how she is feeling. The level of work is sometimes a stretch as I feel the material is a bit ahead of our regular math curriculum. However, I do like the way concepts are taught because my daughter is such a visual learner we will stick out our learning with this math curriculum for the rest of this school year and to completion of the book. I would definitely say for you to check out this program if you are looking for a high quality math program with a solid foundation. Check it out to see if it can meet your child’s needs.

—Product review by Jacquelin Caffey, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2016