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Singapore Primary Mathematics 1A and 1B

Genre: Math


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Singapore Primary Mathematics 1A and 1B

I’d heard the name “Singapore Math” several times while I researching a first grade math program for my daughter. I was intrigued because it had originated in Asia. There are plenty of math curriculums out there, so why would I purchase one that had originally been imported from another country? Since it had received good reviews, I decided to give it a try.

Primary Mathematics 1A and 1B, available through Inc, is a complete first grade math curriculum. The two textbooks, workbooks, and home instructor’s guides are available individually, but all six books will be necessary to complete the year. The curriculum uses some basic math manipulatives that are not included. The textbooks and workbooks were published in 2003 and the home instructor’s guides in 2007.

What I loved about Primary Mathematics:

  • It is great having a home instructor’s guide designed especially for use by home educating parents. Plenty of ideas for hands-on activities and games are included in the guides.
  • It is not overly repetitious, so my daughter did not become quickly bored.
  • Multiplication and division concepts are introduced.
  • The workbooks include word problems, teaching practical application of math skills learned.
  • The combination of hands-on activities, visual examples in the textbooks, and written practice in the workbooks makes Primary Mathematics easily adaptable for various learning styles.

What I didn’t like about Primary Mathematics:

  • There is not much practice of addition and subtraction facts included in the curriculum, so I had to supplement with flashcards and extra worksheets.
  • The curriculum is fast-paced, and at times I had to spend extra time on a particular concept in order for my daughter to really master it.

The Primary Mathematics 1A and 1B softcover textbooks are full-color and reusable. The softcover workbooks are black and white consumable books. The spiral-bound home instructor’s guides are not absolutely necessary, but certainly helpful. I was uncertain how best to teach some of the math concepts and in those cases found the guides to be a great resource. If you have a child who is a hands-on learner, then I would definitely recommend the guides, as they provide a number of activities and games for each new concept introduced. Answers to all of the problems are found in the home instructor’s guides.

My daughter enjoyed Singapore Math’s Primary Mathematics, and I was pleased with the progress that she had made by the end of the course. I initially felt that it was a bit on the pricey side, but considering the results, it was definitely worth it.

About Teisha Priest

Teisha is a follower of Christ, wife to Aaron, and mother of four children. Teisha and Aaron are raising their children on the family homestead in Maine. Her mother homeschooled her during her junior high and high school years. She is looking forward to continuing the legacy of home education with all of her own children. She blogs at Teish Knits about anything and everything, and is also a contributor to Christian Fiction Book Reviews.

Last Updated: March 12, 2012

(5) Leave Your Opinion

  1. Kim
    March 16, 2012 at 5:18 am

    We do not have the instructor's guides. We are doing our first year of Singapore math as well.......except that we are in Year 2. I have not felt lost without the instructor's guides. However, I don't necessarily have a very hands-on learner. (We were able to manage with just some paper clips as counters when teaching multiplication and division.) What I have loved about the curriculum is the emphasis on word problems and the emphasis on learning mental math. Both skills will be so useful in later life. My ds age 8 will be well equipped to figure math out in his head. I also find the curriculum to be very reasonably priced. We had used Horizon's in the past......and the teacher's guide felt necessary, it got kinda pricey. While, I have not felt the pace was too fast for my ds (in fact there have been times we've skipped some exercises...), I came to realize very quickly that there wasn't enough review to keep the concepts that he had previously learned........fresh. So, with concepts like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, I simply do not do the "practice" sessions with him, but instead save those as review lessons during the later units. We have figured out how to make this curriculum a perfect fit for our family and have already purchased it again for next year. We recommend it. :)

  2. Megan
    March 16, 2012 at 7:33 am

    We have used Singapore Math for the past four years with four of our six children. We have found Singapore Math to be a good fit for two of those children, they are children who naturally understand math concepts and who need less review of concepts. Our other two children who used Singapore math made it to levels 3A and 4A and then struggled because the concepts came too quickly and they could not master them before learning new ones. We have used all the instructor's guides and found them to be helpful because they include re-teaching ideas as well as review and math facts review. The instructor's guide calls these fact reviews "mental math" and they have been very helpful to review skills. The instructor's guides also include some pages that can be copied, cut out and used during lessons. We will continue to use Singapore Math with two of our children and have moved to a curriculum that provides a master approach and moves much slower for our other two elementary students. We recommend Singapore Math, especially for those students who are math-minded.

  3. Robin
    March 16, 2012 at 8:15 am

    My interest in Singapore Math began when I worked as an elementary mathematics specialist in a large public school system. My job was to support teachers who were piloting the program for the first time. After analyzing the program and the way concepts are developed over time, I could not wait to use it with my own children! Now as a homeschooling parent, I am even more convinced of the logic and quality of the Singapore approach to teaching mathematics. I have used Singapore Kindergarten with my son and now we are working on the second half of first grade. By using the program, he has developed excellent skills in mental math. The approach Singapore uses to teach basic facts goes beyond just memorization and is essential for kids when they learn to work with larger numbers. Children learn to break numbers apart and put them back together again when learning basic facts so they can apply this same understanding when working with larger numbers. While I have not formally taught my son an algorithm for subtracting multidigit numbers with regrouping, as a first grader he is already using strategies to solve such problems. Already he is pretty fluent with basic addition and subtraction facts and is beginning to learn multiplication facts now with even greater ease than some of the third graders I taught in public school. Another benefit that I look forward to in using Singapore is the program's approach to story problems. The pictorial models used help students visualize the known and unknown parts of a problem. This is an essential skill in developing algebraic thinking. There is no more random guessing about which operation should be used to solve a story problem. The pictorial models help students visualize the problem first with whole numbers. Then later they can use this exact same model drawing approach to solve problems with fractions. Because students have seen and used this model drawing for so long, when they get to upper elementary grades and have to begin working with fractions, the transition should be a lot smoother. The reason I love Singapore math is that it logically helps a child develop conceptual understanding in a sequence that is concrete, pictorial, to abstract. Lots of programs tend to leave out that pictorial stage, but that is probably the most powerful aspect of Singapore math. While I do admit that I also combine some additional games and manipulatives to aid in my teaching, it is still the Singapore book that guides me in the sequence and approach that I am using to teach. I would definitely recommend Singapore for those starting with children in younger grades. For those who have used other programs and want to switch to this for older kids, keep in mind that since the program builds so much on itself, you may need to do some backtracking to help fill in the gaps.

  4. Diana
    March 16, 2012 at 11:06 am

    This was our first year homeschooling and this was a highly-recommended curriculum. It has made math a subject I approach with all confidence! My son is in level 1. I appreciated how Singapore explored concepts, giving a solid understanding of the facts and helping with mental math. It teaches methods I never learned and has helped enforce my mental math as well as teach my son. I love how strongly it ties in with manipulative play. I had heard how it needed some extra practice so I bought Miquon Math for that. However, my son didn't need any extra practice until we got to 'making ten' with addition and subtraction. I had to go back to the Cuisinaire rods a few times to make the concept fully sink in. I also printed off a couple of extra practice sheets off the internet. I didn't really use the teacher manual. Perhaps I should have due to it being my first time homeschooling, but the concepts were easy to understand and teach for me using the textbook. I am about to start my second child in 1A, and I'm looking forward to it!

  5. Kristin
    March 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    I switched my oldest to SM when he was in 3rd grade. I wanted to stay with SM as he got older but I didn't feel I was strong enough in math to keep teaching through the upper level years without the instruction manuals. We used other well known programs in 7th-12th BUT we are returning to SM with my younger children INCLUDING my middle and high school kids. I wish I had kept my oldest in SM. I was unsure how he would "keep up" with American testing and what was I supposed to do when he needed more time on a topic? But now I understand the beauty of this program. In the higher grades they don't have separate Algebra and Geometry or Trig. But I remember when I was in high school thinking that we should be taught a little bit of algebra, a little bit of geometry and keep adding on as we learned. That is what SM does. This program teaches you to THINK mathematically in the younger grades and continues to build on what you have learned even into the higher grades. I do have to add drills for my younger children while they are learning multiplication facts but it is no big deal. We stop and make flashcards or go on-line for drills and then we continue on with our lessons. If my kids have mastered a topic we can just skip ahead. There are reviews that will catch anything that needs to be worked on. If I see that they don't understand a topic in the review we just stop and work on that for a while. There is no program out there that has everything, I've tried many, but SM is a program that can work for just about any learning style whether your child is a wiz at math or needs to slow down and take their time. I highly recommend it.

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Review Rating

Quick Overview


textbooks and workbooks, 2003; home instructor's guides, 2007
two softcover textbooks, two softcover workbooks and two spiral-bound home instructor's guides
Retail Price:
textbooks and workbooks: $10.80 each, home instructor's guides: $17.50 each
for elementary students
guides written especially for home educators, adaptable to a variety of learning styles
needs supplemental addition and subtraction facts practice
Our Rating System
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