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Essential Math – Kindergarten A and B Review by Karen Waide

Singapore Math, Inc.
19535 SW 129th Avenue
Tualatin, OR 97062

I had been wondering what math curriculum I was going to use with my youngest son this year, and then I was given the opportunity to review Essential Math – Kindergarten A and B from Singapore Math, Inc. This kindergarten math curriculum consists of two soft-cover workbooks. Both of the workbooks contain 158 pages and 16 units. No teacher's guide is necessary as there are ideas shared at the bottom of each page to help the parent/teacher explore the concepts being taught. 

The units in Book A begin with the simple concepts of same and different, then move into learning about sets before progressing into counting to five and looking at numbers through ten (which my son considered the “real” math, though I explained to him that learning the other concepts was truly math as well). The book then focuses on number order before moving into shapes and patterns. Children then focus on different ways to measure, such as length, size, weight, and capacity. The first book concludes with having children comparing sets, looking at equal sets, and seeing if they can figure out more and less.

Book B begins where Book A left off, with comparing numbers. As they get ready to learn about addition, children are asked to focus on tens and ones, and then learn to count to 20, recognizing both the amounts and the numerals. The lessons then move right into addition, starting with adding sets together and building number bonds. Addition problems are shown both vertically and horizontally. Children will explore different ways to make numbers up through 10. Then they will learn to count on to add, using number lines. They then move into subtraction, and understanding how subtraction is a whole minus a part. Children are once again taught to use a number line, this time to count back. They are then given more time to work with addition and subtraction. The book then moves ahead with numbers up to 40. The topics of ordering and time come next, followed by learning numbers up to 100. The book concludes with lessons on even/odd and fractions.

As you can see, there are a lot of topics covered in Singapore Essential Math Kindergarten. While doing the lessons, children use different skills. For instance, in the counting exercises, they may have to write the number, or they may just have to circle the correct number. They also learn how to use picture graphs and interpret the data. They may have to trace, draw, or color.

There is a lot more to this curriculum than just filling out the workbook pages though. I mentioned that there is information at the bottom of each page for the parent/teacher. There are four main points, though not every page has all four.

  • Concept
  • Introduction
  • Using this page
  • One Step Further

The majority of the pages have the concept and the introduction. Sometimes there will be information for using the page and taking things one step further.

The concept tells you what exactly is being taught to the student in that page's lesson. For instance, the unit “Count to 5” spans 18 pages and on each page the concept being taught is usually different. Here are several of the concepts your child will learn in the “Count to 5” section:

  • Count to two and recognize the numerals 1 and 2.
  • Count to three and recognize the numerals 1, 2, and 3.
  • The symbols for the same number can be written in different ways.
  • Recognize the number of objects in a group.
  • Introduce graphical representation of quantities.
  • Use graphs as a way to tally objects.

Most of the time there will be an introduction activity, to help you introduce the concept to the child. This is when the child will have hands-on manipulative time, to really get a feel for the topic. During this step, you may need to gather some addition materials, such as blocks, counters, linking cubes, or other random objects. You may also need additional paper or a white board.

Occasionally the student may need a bit more guidance in completing the lesson. The using this page section will give specific instructions, such as making sure the parent shows a child how to count the pictures on the graph from left to right.

One step further gives some ideas for extending the lesson. This feature is not quite as prevalent as the others, but you will come across it occasionally.

My son has loved using his math book. As he is only four years old, we don't do math every day. However, there have been many days when he will bring his book out to me and ask to do his math. Sometimes we only get one page done per day, other times he will do multiple pages and not want to stop. Book A has been quite easy for him. In fact, most of the time he will zing ahead and not need the extra “introduction” step. He had no problem understanding same, different, and sets for example. All I had to do was read the instructions at the top of the page and he was able to complete it. I had to be careful to not let him go on ahead of me while I was working with his sisters though, because sometimes he thought he knew what he was supposed to do and he was not quite right.

Looking ahead to Book B, I believe he will need a lot more guidance, as the lessons pick up in difficulty. From what I can tell, use of manipulatives will be quite important for understanding the concepts. There will be a lot more one-on-one time, instead of independent workbook time.

I have appreciated the variety in these lessons. My son loves the book and is gaining confidence in his math work. He has been able to practice counting and writing his numbers, which he really enjoys. I like that the pages are not too “busy” and are in black and white. I feel this makes it easier for the child to focus on what is to be done. Each page is laid out the same way, with the unit/topic up top, followed by the instructions. The majority of the page is the child's work space. Then the parent/teacher info is in small font at the bottom of the page. This consistency gives the child a sense of security.

Each book is available from the Singapore Math website for $11.20.

-Product review by Karen Waide, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December, 2016