Friday, March 1, 2019

Improving Math Skills with Dimensions Math from Singapore Math Inc. {A TOS Review}

My son Harold and I have been having a blast during the "Mommy-Time" part of our day these past several weeks.  Instead of our usual two days a week, we have been spending time three or four days out of the week working together. One of the subjects we have been focusing on is math, using Level 1B of Dimensions Math PK-5 from Singapore Math Inc.. I was excited to get the chance to try out this newest program from Singapore Math Inc., thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew.

We received the 3-book set which consists of a Teacher's Guide, a Textbook, and a Workbook.

I really appreciate the approach of this program, which the teacher guide mentions is a "Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract" development, where students will "view the same concepts over time with increasing levels of abstraction." In other words, when children are younger and just starting out with the program, they will be working with concrete objects, which then move into pictures representing the objects, until finally they are able to grasp the abstract concepts. I can't speak for all the levels, but I loved that Harold was getting hands-on learning with manipulatives, plus there are pictures he could use to figure out his answers. 

Here are the topics that are covered in Level 1B:
  • Chapter 10: Length (comparing in different ways)
  • Chapter 11: Comparing (using subtraction and graphs)
  • Chapter 12: Numbers to 40
  • Chapter 13: Addition and Subtraction Within 40
  • Chapter 14: Grouping and Sharing
  • Chapter 15: Fractions
  • Chapter 16: Numbers to 100
  • Chapter 17: Addition and Subtraction Within 100
  • Chapter 18: Time
  • Chapter 19: Money
The three books work together to help us get the most out of the program. Let's take a quick look at each of the books.

The Teacher's Guide is a 246-page, spiral-bound book. It has a glossy, thick, cardstock cover, and a hard back for support. It begins with a Contents section where you will find a list of each of the chapters with the topic title, what each of the lessons focus on in the chapter, and the page numbers that chapter is found in. You will then be able to read a bit about the methodology, the materials used with the program, and instructions on how to use the guide. There is then a nine page Scope and Sequence of the Dimensions Math program from level PKA to 3B. We then get into the actual lesson pages. 

Each chapter begins with an Overview:

Following the Overview, you will find a page or two that explains what and how this topic is being taught, along with what was taught in past levels and possibly what will be taught in future levels. The next page has a list of materials needed for the hands-on activities, plus which blackline masters will be used, possible storybooks to read, and a note of the letter to go home for the chapter (which isn't needed as a homeschool family). There is also a lined "notes" page for the parent to jot down anything they find important or necessary. 

Then we move into the actual lesson. These pages help guide the parent through the textbook lessons, and add in the hands-on activities. 

Each chapter has a "Chapter Opener" to introduce the topic and then between 4-12 lessons. The "Chapter Opener" and the lessons begin with a box that lists the objectives and needed materials. Then there are notes on how to complete the lessons plus hands-on activities to participate in. The activities are written with a group in mind, but can easily be modified for one student, or if you have more than one child, you can always have them help out. The page from the student's textbook is inset on the sides of the page. Each lesson concludes with a pencil image that let's you know which exercise your child should complete from the workbook. The last pages for each chapter are the answer keys for these workbook exercises. 

I really appreciate that the Teacher's Guide has color coded pages. Each chapter's pages are a different color, with darker shades of the color bordering the top, making it easy to find the chapter you are looking for. 

The non-consumable Textbook is a 184-page, softcover book. It begins with a Preface and a section that discusses the Features and Lesson Components. There is then a Contents section which is almost identical to that in the Teacher's Guide before moving right into the lessons. 

There are five characters who help teach the lessons. There names are Emma, Sophia, Alex, Dion, and Mei. They ask the children questions and give them hints and ideas for working through the lesson. Each lesson goes through the same steps. A child is led to "Think," then "Learn," and finally to "Do." Along with the activities mentioned in the Textbook, the teacher needs to remember there are instructions and additional activities in the Teacher's Guide. At the bottom of the last page of the lesson you will find that pencil image directing you to the corresponding exercises in the workbook. The top and bottom of the pages are bordered by the color that matches the pages in the Teacher's Guide. 

The consumable Workbook is a 186-page, softcover book. While the Teacher's Guide and Textbook have color in both the pages and the images, the Workbook is completely black and white. This book also begins with a Contents section, which lists the chapters and exercises along with the page numbers. The amount of exercises is equal to the amount of lessons in each chapter. The exercises include "Basics" problems to review the basic concepts, plus problems for "Practice." Plus the occasional "Challenge" and "Check" exercise. 

So, these books work together to create a wonderful program with both hands-on activities and workbook exercises for practice.

Additionally, there is a Dimensions Math Resource Page where you can find the Blackline Masters to use with the program. The site is clearly marked, and it was simple to download and print each page.

 Here are the pages I printed out for our current chapter.

How did we use this program?

As I mentioned above, Harold and I used the Level 1 of Dimensions Math during our "Mommy-Time." This is one-on-one time that I set aside for the younger children during the routine part of our day. We have a half an hour to work on math and other subjects. In order to not feel rushed with this curriculum, I decided we would take double the suggested number of "class periods" for each chapter. So, one day we would do the hands-on activities and work through some of the information in the textbook. In fact, depending on how long the activity took, we might find ourselves working on that section for another day. Then Harold worked on the exercises in the workbook on a different day. Though there are days we got the activity completed and had some time for the workbook.

We've done a lot of measuring.

We compared different objects in our school area.

We compared lengths of yarn.

We had to figure out which lines were longest or shortest.

We measured using different materials such as craft sticks, linking cubes, and paper clips.

Yes, even Harold and I got measured.

He really enjoyed seeing how long his foot was in smiley face stickers and beans.

We've also enjoyed reading the books that were recommended for the chapters. 

I feel that the Dimensions Math from Singapore Math Inc. is a wonderful program. I appreciate that there is a textbook to work through, with easy to follow instructions in the Teacher's Guide. I think the workbook gives Harold just the right amount of practice, and helps him look at problems in different ways. But most of all, I LOVE that it includes so many hands-on activities. I have always felt that hands-on learning is very important, but sadly we have been lacking that in our homeschool lately. I have actually been frustrated that Harold isn't getting the same level of hands-on learning that  his sisters used to. So, Dimensions Math really has been a Godsend for us. And more importantly, Harold looks forward to math time! He really is enjoying this program. He even wanted to work on his math while he wasn't feeling the best today.

That's a WIN in my book!

You can find Singapore Math Inc. on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Dimensions Math PK-5. You will find reviews for the levels from PK A all the way to 3A.

Dimensions Math PK-5 {Singapore Math Inc. Reviews}

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