Elias graduated Kindergarten with the math curriculum we were previously using just in time for Singapore Math Inc. to send us Dimensions Math PK-5 to review Level 1B semester! We were so excited! We did a Facebook live “box opening” together. Every day over that first weekend Elias begged me to just LOOK at his math books!
I spent the weekend looking over the material as well! It was so colorful and neatly laid out! Every “chapter” was color coded, there was neat and exact objectives and materials needed. This pleased me GREATLY! There is nothing better then a math cirriulum that is neat and organized! I felt confident in navigating all the material with ease.
In the beginning, I was confused why I needed a Textbook, Workbook and Teacher’s Guide, but as I paged through the lessons I began to understand what role they each played and enjoyed the three book approach!
Textbook: A full-colored teaching tool for the child to review new concepts.
Workbook: Black and white consumable book that the student practices the concepts on paper.
Teacher’s Guide: Step-by-step for the instructor depicting objectives, lesson materials needed, things to think about, learn about, activities to do, and the orders in which the textbook and workbook pages should be done.
We started with “Chapter 10 Length”. We used different measuring tools and compared lengths and heights of objects. This was a lot of fun. Elias took to it like it was the simplest concept he’s ever taken to! We were delighted! We made it through the whole lesson in just three days.
The following week we moved to “Chapter 12 Counting to 40”. One of the activities that this chapter opens with is one in which they are to count 20-40 straws (we used colored pencils). I was confused by how this activity was supposed to work, so my husband took over.
He had Elias count the straws out and they grouped them in groups of 10, as suggested in the directions. Elias was supposed to count the groups of 10 (10, 20, 30) followed by the single penciles (31, 32, 33, 34…). They were encouraged to use “place value cards” and then create “number bonds” illustrating the number of pencils they had before them.
Elias never understood why each group of ten pencils put a mark in the “tens” spot on our “place value” card. He did not understand number bonds at all. Matter of fact, neither did Alex and I. Neither did any of my almost 4th grade students.
We progressed to the next few lessons which had Elias adding two digit numbers. He had absolutely no idea how to do this.
I started to wonder… maybe Singapore Math Dimensions taught place value in the previous books and we missed it? Maybe they taught basic math facts before this?
I looked back at the Course Objectives and Summary of Dimensions 1A to see if it could answer my questions. To my surprise, children were taught how to make these “number bonds” for numbers 6, 7, 8 and 10. Nowhere did I find a solid teaching or the memorizing of basic addition facts, nor a proper instruction of place value; I find any trace of teaching addition with stacking numbers and adding according to place value.
Elias and I kept trying to move forward in this curriculum, but teaching him how to add 10’s by giving him bundle of 10 items without teaching him how regrouping happens was a major roadblock.
Here one example of what I am talking about:
As you can see, “The squirrel buried 28 acorns. She will bury 5 more acorns. How many acorns will she bury in all?” Two examples are given at the bottom of the page to assist the child in understanding the required mathematical transaction that needs to occur to attain the solution. Looking at the number bond, I see that habitually throughout this cirriuculm these “number bonds” create an abstract approach to simple addition problems. This abstract math is not, in our opinion, nessessary at such an early stage of development. It creates confusion before a solid foundation is laid.
I believe and have experienced that teaching a child to stack numbers to add them learning how to regroup the units place, carrying a “1” to the tens place when nessessary, creates a fundamental understanding of what is occurring during addition. Number bonds and the block example on the left fail to equip a student with this basic understanding.
After attempting 5-6 lessons together, we had to stop using Singapore Math Inc.’s Dimensions Math 1B with my son for two reasons:
(1) It failed to properly instruct him in basic addition concepts and therefore created stress and frustration.
(2) Not only Elias struggled though. My husband, my older children and I did not understand number bonds and this strange method of teaching addition and subtraction.
Unfortunately, this cirriculum did not work for us and we cannot, therefore, recommend it.