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Sansu Math, Grade 5 Set Review by Laura Delgado

Student Book, Two Teacher Books
Koyo Publishing
19535 SW 129th Avenue Suite 100
Tualatin, OR 97062

Sansu Math is an adaptation of Japan’s most widely used elementary math series. The 5th grade full-color softcover consumable textbook contains 15 units: Whole Numbers and Decimal Numbers, Volume of Cubes and Cuboids, Multiplication of Decimal Numbers, Division of Decimal Numbers, Congruent Shapes, Even and Odd Numbers, Multiples and Factors, Per Unit Quantity, Fractions and Decimal Numbers, Angles of Geometric Figures, Addition and Subtraction of Fractions, Area of Quadrilaterals and Triangles, Percentage and Graphs, Regular Polygons and Length Around Circles, Multiplication and Division of Fractions, and Prisms and Cylinders. Each unit is broken down into either two or three sections. The result is 162 forty-five minute lessons. The student book is 270 pages long, while each of the two hardcover teacher’s manuals is 290 pages long. The Student Text is $25 and the Teacher Guides are $35 each.

Unlike many Teacher Guides, the Sansu Teacher Guides (as reflected by their number of pages) are much more than just a reproduction of the student books with the correct answers filled in. Rather, these guides teach you how to teach math the Sansu way. The Teacher Guide has a lot of extra content not found in the student book, including an overview of both the Grade 5 content and the structure of the textbook, extensive notes on how to read the Teacher’s Guide, Blackboard Organization, and more. A lot of emphasis is placed on concrete representations of abstract mathematical concepts, both in and out of the text.

Within the Teacher’s Guide itself, you will always be referred to the correct page in the Student Text. Thus, for example, Student Text page 10 is reproduced on Teacher’s Guide page 6, with a notation showing you that it is ST 10. The same notation (ST 10) appears on Teacher’s Guide page 7. There are two Teacher’s Guide pages for every one Student Text page. Not only does the Teacher’s Guide tell you exactly what to say to students, but it also explains to you why you are saying what you are, when students first learned the concept being taught, how to reach struggling learners, and the way you should be instructing. The Teacher’s Guide even provides “anticipated responses and support.” In other words, it tells you what students will probably say and how you should respond. This Teacher’s Guide isn’t leaving anything to chance.

At first glance, Sansu Math reminded me of another Asian import math program many homeschoolers love. It has the depth and rigor other math programs lack. I was so impressed with it that I immediately bought a second student book for my other 11-year-old (I have twins). While I like Sansu, and I plan to continue using it, there are things about it of which one should be aware before committing to it for a year.

First, Sansu is great if you have a student who needs math delivered in a very concrete manner. It gives every opportunity for math concepts to be made as un-abstract as possible. Also, if you like to teach math from a script, you will appreciate Sansu’s method. Also, if you are the kind of person who has always wondered why something is the way it is in math, the Teacher’s Guides are an answer to your prayers. They explain everything to you (and you can decide how much you want to explain to your children). Sansu allows you to teach math with a depth of knowledge I have not seen in any other program. You don’t “do” math, you marinate in math. If this approach appeals to you, you will love Sansu. Finally, if your child has gaps in certain areas of math (and those areas are some of the ones covered by Sansu), this program is the one to close those gaps.

Sansu is not going to be for everyone, though. If math is one of those subjects that you or your child just wants to get in and get done, you likely will find Sansu to be too much. If your child is overwhelmed by too much *stuff* on a math page, be sure to look at the sample that Sansu has thoughtfully made available before committing to it. For kids who enjoy seeing a black and white page of math problems to complete, Sansu is not the best choice.

On the other hand, if your child enjoys color and needs lots of different kinds of examples to understand math, Sansu could be exactly what you’re looking for! If traditional math programs have not worked well for your family, be sure to look at Sansu for your elementary math needs.

—Product review by Laura Delgado, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2017