Singapore Math - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

Singapore Math

So I don't know if you all know this, but you guys in the blogging world are my favorite resource. We had a meeting today to discuss a new math program we are considering-- yes Math in Focus-- and my teaching partner (the lovely Mrs. Smith) requested I ask for your all's advice. Actually she said- "Katie- put it on your blog!" Our questions are as follows:

1. What Must Haves do we need? (Manipulatives, online resources, textbook, etc)
2. How does your day look with Singapore Math (How much time do I need to be successful?)?
3. What about the vocabulary-- I hear there is a ton of new terms for the kids to pick up- are they successful?
4. Do you do Math Work Stations with Singapore Math-do they fit together well?
5. Last BUT definitely not least, how do you like it?

Thank you so much in advance for your time!

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  1. My district adopted Singapore 3 years ago. This is my first year teaching, so I don't have much experience with anything else. For the most part, I've been happy with it. I have a 60 minute block and I don't do any math stations during this time. I think you need at least this long to be successful with the program. I'll give you a run down of this time. We start with 5-10 minutes or so of Mental Math (I teach 1st grade as well, so we do some Calendar stuff during this time). Some of the other first grade teachers don't do any Calendar at all, but I think my kiddos still need it. After MM, we have a 15-20 minute lesson. (Singapore does a good job of sequencing the skills to build upon themselves). For Guided Practice (10 mins), I often use the workbook and I have to supplement and create materials for the students to complete during their independent practice time(15 mins). Singapore has some great game suggestions, which is always helpful! I suppose you could implement centers during this time. Everyday, we also do a problem solving activity (5-10 mins) using the 8 Steps of Model Drawing. I'm not sure what the actual protocol is, but I don't require my students to use the 8-step method when they are working on their own.

    The program is very vocabulary heavy and my students do struggle with this. I try to be very consistent in the language that I use to match the text and workbook. I also spend a lot of time going over directions and the questions on the Assessments to make sure they really understand what to do. I always worry about them missing a question because the wording is not what they are used to seeing.

    I've had to supplement some things to meet all of our district curriculum objecitves, mostly with teaching Money and Geometry. In first grade, the formal money unit is the last unit of the year, which I don't like at all. The Geometry unit also lasts about 4 days, but I extended mine to almost 2 weeks.

    -I did my student teaching in 2nd grade with the district last year, and I know that there are exactly the same number of lessons as there are days in the year. That made it very difficult to spend extra time if your students needed it in any area! Thankfully, in first grade, it's not such a tight fit!

    Must haves Manipulatives for the program:
    -Place Value Mats and Discs
    -Number Bond addition and subtraction flashcards

    Hope this is helpful!

    -Jenn Bradley

  2. I do not have this curriculum so I really can't comment. But I wanted to stop by anyway!!! :)
    So HI!!!!
    A Teeny Tiny Teacher

  3. Oh wow! I just attended a faculty meeting on Singapore math last week. I know my school's goal is to use this program regularly. It seems like there are many positives, but also we had some concerns.
    I'd LOVE to hear any other details, feedback, etc. from other teachers.



  4. Jenn- Thank you SO much for the advice! I am looking to put in an hour and a half Math Workshop to accommodate my work stations and Singapore. Kristen- you are no help EXCEPT that you made me smile and what could be more important than that! Lyndsey-I promise to send any golden nuggets your way as well :)

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  6. I have been teaching Singapore for 3 years and love it. It is a great program. Math in Focus is a great curriculum. I do about 45 min a day. this includes number sense work, presentation of the lesson and working in the workbook. I do a lot of games and centers to reinforce the concepts taught, The children do this independently as I work with small groups.
    I think it is important that some of your teachers go to the Singapore Conference as this is a great way to understand the philosophy behind the program. You will understand why they do things and get some great ideas on how to impliment it. Check out Crystal Springs for books by Caterine Jones. she has some great books that will help you 2 or the titles are Number Wonders and Number Sense. she is wonderful. You can use any manipulatives that you want. The disks are nice but to begin I feel the students need to see the 10 and ones as different sizes not just a different color. We bought the e books instead of the student text books. I love this. I show it on the Promethian board and we can write all over it to figure out the answers. I would highly recommend that. You also need to get the cd with all the extra practice pages and assessments. It is a must. I love the program and will be happy to answer anymore of your questions. Hope this was helpful

  7. This is actually my first year teaching and my school just started using this program in first grade. I really like it. I really feel like it is challenging for all my students. They are really learning to think in a new way! We actually use the Every Day Counts calendar which we do for about 15 minutes first thing in the morning. I really wanted to do my own calendar on the Smartboard, but now that I am used to this program, I really feel that my students benefit more from it. It goes so nicely with the Singapore math program. We do 60 minutes of math in the afternoon. I would set aside at least an hour just for math. Some days I have plenty of time, and some days I find myself cutting into my science time.

    I don't do Math centers, but we do Literacy Work Stations each day and one of our stations is Math. So I try to work in some reinforcement activities there. As far as which materials to get. We have the bare minimum! I have the teacher's manual and the workbooks. We do not have the student books, and to be honest.. I don't even miss them. I just have the kids sit on the carpet in front of the Smartboard and I project the book on the Smartboard. They don't have to keep up with a book and we can write the answers without ruining a book. We also try to incorporate fun activities as often as possible to help the kids learn the sometimes really difficult content.

    Honestly.. I really like it! Sometimes it is frustrating when the students are struggling to grasp the difficult concepts. But it is all worth it when you see them completing problems you never thought a first grader could answer. I hope I was of some help :).

    Check out our blog Awesome in 1st at

  8. Math in focus is good. Is your school looking at whole school adoption or rolling? I highly recommend the latter! One of the most important components is staff development. Without it, you can misuse this, just like any textbook. Please feel free to contact me dor more

  9. Here's what I'm hearing from teachers working with Math in Focus:
    -Technology component is great.
    -It is lacking in the bar modeling area compared with Primary Mathematics and the quantity of material is overwhelming to work with.
    -Some teachers think it moves to quickly.
    -The training provided by the publisher is not enough. I'd second Ricky's comment: it is worth the initial outlay to get additional content training.

  10. I have used Math In Focus for 4 years now. I also travel around and do professional development for both EDC Calendar and MIF math program. Hands down it is the best program to meet the common core math standards. As a stand alone it isn't a save all. The teacher in the room is the save all! I love MIF and EDC. It is a great program that will reach all students. You can easily make is easier for struggling students and harder for the students who need to be enriched. I do math stations and those occur on Fridays. I teach four days a week and on the fifth I pull extensive groups and have math centers. If you have any quesitons at all or would like to talk further I would be happy to.

    1. Hi There!
      I am wondering if there is a list to align the test preps for each chapter to the common core??? They do a great job identifying common core with each lesson, but would be nice to have the list on hand for the end of chapter assessments. : )

  11. My school is on their second year of Singapore Math. First of all this is the "Americanized" version of Singapore math. There are definitely pros and cons to the program (at least for my school)

    -helped us get a head start on Common Core Standards
    -Technology component is nice
    -We got the physical book, logins to use the book virtually and
    allow students/parents to see the book on line, virtual
    manipulatives, and CDs with a variety of things on them
    -An understanding of how sums are reached
    -Great program for gifted students
    -Pushed me as a teacher
    -Pushes parents and teachers

    -The Chapters are written to build on one another and that each grade lays the ground work for the next grades. The first year we didn't finish the book and I felt that it was a disservice to second grade.
    -Money is the last chapter! (eek!)
    -No spiral review
    -Each training we went to we were guided to different answers
    -Very word heavy (so much written word in the first grade books)
    -Firsties are given hardback book not workbooks but the hardback books have blanks in them
    -Difficult for students with IEPs and lower-leveled learners that do not qualify for special services
    -Not always developmentally appropriate for the 'average' student
    -We didn't really have this problem in first but it was harder for the upper grades to transition
    -Parents don't always understand the 'Singapore' way
    -No fact practice (students understand how to get answers to math facts but there is no automaticity)

    My school district was really into the program and purchased the manipulatives that are suggested for it. Definitely will need a lot of linking cubes. I created some number bond templates to use. My district also purchased the EveryDay Counts calendar component. I used it with fidelity the first year. Over the summer I explored the blog world and found Cara's calendar companion and I feel that it's really helped fill in some gaps and be a good intro to material in advance. Each day we do calendar and money and time even though I don't get to those chapters until after Spring Break.

    If you'd like to email me I can send you a 'visitor' trial login to explore the math book itself. It'll have a link to the .pdf of the workbook and you can see the teacher edition as well as student editions.

  12. Hello, this is a nice blog. i wanted share my singapore math experience with you. you can read the whole story here:

    1. Our district just approved the Math in Focus for our elementary schools. I would love to read the information on teach advice but I need to be invited. How can I get into it?

  13. Hello,

    I just wanted to share another option that can supplement Math in Focus, It is called Math Buddies and it is an online K-5 curriculum that is brought to you by the publishers of Math in Focus, Marshall Cavendish. You can learn more about it at It offers a way to integrate technology with Singapore Math and offers tutorials for lessons which can help the teacher and students better understand some mathematical concepts. Let me know if anyone is interested:

  14. Singapore Math enhance the mental alertness and comprehension of the kids.If this would be teach well, then it would be of great help for the kids.Singapore Math Tutorials would be your best choice to make the kids THE MATH WHIZ.

  15. Glad the blogging community was able to come to your aid on this one! I've actually found a few online singapore math classes that have been pretty good. You should check them out and make a post on which is the best!

  16. I taught MIF last year to K students and did not care for the K program. I've been to many trainings but none of the trainings cater to Kindergarten. I would love to hear how teachers use it in the K classroom.

  17. I think that this is the right time for the Philippines to do the right thing by adding singapore math tutorials to Filipino students.

  18. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.
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  19. The program is very vocabulary heavy and my students do struggle with this. I try to be very consistent in the language that I use to match the text and workbook. silk dupatta collection , two piece lawn suit I also spend a lot of time going over directions and the questions on the Assessments to make sure they really understand what to do. I always worry about them missing a question because the wording is not what they are used to seeing.

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