Math, the Singapore Way [Review]
Numbers are a great joy in my house. I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but my kids love math! About a year ago, my son picked up a calculator and it became his favorite toy. He’d sit for hours typing in numbers and yelling from his room, “Mom, guess what 100 + 77 is??” As his love for numbers grew, we even had to implement a rule in our house, “no math before bed” because he’d get SO excited that he couldn’t fall asleep!
I’ve heard wonderful things about Singapore Math Inc. over the last few years, and was so excited to try it out for myself with the Homeschool Review Crew! We chose to check out level 2B of Dimensions Math PK-5 and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring this curriculum.
Math 2B consists of 8 chapters and covers mental calculations, multiplication and division of 3 and 4, money, fractions, time, capacity, graphs and shapes.
The first chapter on mental calculations caught me off guard. This wasn’t a method of problem solving that we had previously used; but the Teachers Handbook provided a review of what had been addressed in the previous curriculum. Mental math is a cornerstone of the Singapore Math Inc. method which teaches strategies to help students develop a flexibility in thinking about numbers (read more about that here). As we worked through the chapter, I really appreciated that they presented different ways to perform mental math instead of a right and wrong way to come up with the correct answer.
The following chapter on multiplication and division of 3 and 4 seemed to pick up seamlessly from where my son had previously studied, and he enjoyed the workbook pages (especially the challenge questions).
“Through the CPA approach (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract), students first interact with objects they can relate to that model problem. In the pictorial phase, they make a mental connection between the objects they just handled and visual representations of those objects. For example, real oranges (or counters standing in for oranges) are now represented as drawings of oranges. In the abstract phase, students use symbolic modeling of problems using numbers and math symbols (+, -, x, ÷).”
In our time using it, my numbers-whiz-kid has deepened his understanding of numbers and equations and has gained the ability to mathematically think outside the box.
I found the Dimensions Math Teachers Guide is immensely helpful along our journey. Each lesson has fun activities and games, which required very little prep-work [that’s a huge plus for this tired mama!]. One of our favorite games used a bag of random coins. Each player would reach in and pull out a handful of change, calculate how much they grabbed, and the winner was the player who received the highest sum. In addition to the Teachers Guide, Singapore Math Inc. offers worksheets online through Blackline Masters programs and they even have cute videos for the smallest learners who are just starting their math journey!
I'm looking forward to continuing with this program, and am especially excited to learn about geometry the Singapore way!
Be sure to check out other Crew members reviews to hear their thoughts and learn about other levels of Dimensions Math PK-5!
One thing I never, ever, wanted to do was look like a mom. I distinctly remember the cast of “What Not to Wear” tearing apart a mom for her eclectic taste and I vowed to never, ever, turn into that mom.
After 4 kiddos, my philosophy on "looking like a mom" has changed quite a bit from my teenage years.
For starters, back then I had no appreciation for what my body could do. Of course, my size 2 self longed to be a size 0 and had no clue what real stretch marks looked like. After giving birth 4 times, I'm incredibly thankful that my body can grow a baby, gain and lose 40 pounds in a year, and then create food for that baby. That roller-coaster scale ride is exhausting and makes staying in clothes that fit a major challenge, yet I humbly accept for the reward at hand.
The second note to my clueless teenage self who criticized "mom styles" is that moms seldom have the time or the budget to shop for themselves. I spend most of my shopping minutes making sure my kids have what they need. My shoes from 12 years ago will work just fine without replacing them, my kids on the other hand have outgrown theirs in a matter of weeks and my son’s left knee has a way of poking through EVERY pair of pants he owns!
The third part of “mom fashion” I never understood was the sheer lack of time I have to actually put clothes on and get out the door, nevertheless buy things for myself. I spend 20 minutes convincing my two year old that Dora the Explorer gave her a special toothbrush in a grand effort to persuade her to brush her teeth... which leaves me with 2 minutes to put my clothes on, load my kids in the car, and wrap up the “getting ready marathon” by brushing my hair at a traffic light. Impressing people along the way with my suave style doesn’t even have a moment to cross my mind!
When your three year old styles your hair, you rock it ^
The final perk and downside of “mom style” I never realized is that the same t-shirts that makes you look like Pamela Anderson one day, can also make you look like a shlub a year later thanks to a wonderful mom perk of lactation. Nursing can produce the need for an entirely new collection of bras and shirts for convenience, modesty, and, well… so you don’t bust out of your other shirts [pun intended]!
But at the end of the day, whether pregnant, nursing, gaining the baby weight or losing it, I've learned to love my mom style because of the little eyes that watch me day in and day out. Instead of a self-conscious teenager who worried about their dress and cared about the opinions of others, I'm happy to be a mom who embraces changes in their body and is free from worry about her appearance, and I hope the little feet following me will feel the freedom to do the same… which is why I don’t enforce a dress code, but that’s for another day!
Have a great week, and stay posted for our Singapore Math review coming up next!
5 Reasons to Love Rochambeau
It’s President’s Day here in the US. Besides feasting on a good sale and enjoying the day (or week) off from school, President’s Day is something we normally gloss over with little thought. Hooray for the great leaders in the US, we learned about them in elementary school and left them on the pages of the textbooks, right?
Well, this I’ve been thinking about a historic figure that barely gets a few sentences in most history books, yet was crucial to America’s independence. I’m certain George Washington wouldn’t be the George Washington we know and love without Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau.
Rochambeau was born in Vendôme, France. From a young age, his father taught him to be tolerant of others opinions, question everything his teachers taught him, and think for himself (Lomask, 37); lessons that would be crucial to his military success.
He rose through the ranks of the French military, gaining the admiration of his superiors and inferiors. In a time where soldiers often died under the lash of military punishment, Rochambeau wasn’t in favor of harsh punishments, raising the morale of his soldiers and earning him the affectionate title of, “Papa Rochambeau” (Lomask, 28, 47).
As if he doesn't sound endearing enough, I'd love to present the Top 5 Reasons I Love Rochambeau:
1. He was supposed to be in the clergy, not military.
Back in Rochambeau’s day, children were assigned career paths based on birth order. Rochambeau’s older brother Gabriel was supposed to be a great military leader and Jean-Baptiste was sent to a monastery to study and join the clergy. When his brother died suddenly of a fever, Jean- Baptiste was pulled from seminary and thrust into military school- a move that would monumentally impact the War of the Austrian Succession and the American quest for independence.
2. Rochambeau was a man of great honor.
When the French troops arrived in New Port, RI, Rochambeau went to great lengths to ensure the townspeople didn’t feel that the French were invading. He sent the rowdiest soldiers across the border to Connecticut, where they’d be less of a nuisance and he allowed his other regiments to camp outside of the city. Rochambeau even brought a special blanket to present to the Native American leaders, to honor the long-standing Franco-Indian trade relationship.
3. Rochambeau only ever received half of what he needed.
Rochambeau requested 12,000 troops to carry out his mission in the American Revolution. He only ever received half. In the year he spent in Newport RI, he sent his son, the Vicomte de Rochambeau, to meet with Versailles and request more aide but the response was “no.” Instead, Rochambeau had to make do with what he had to find victory.
4. It was Rochambeau’s idea to go to Yorktown:
It’s no secret that the American’s were struggling to win the Revolution. With desertion rates soaring, moral plummeting, and the British victory of New York City and Cornwallis gaining territory in the south, triumph seemed distant. George Washington had his eyes fixed on regaining control of New York, but every scrimmage ended with the loss of life and moral.
Rochambeau advised Washington against going after General Clinton, but the advice fell on deaf ears. Finally, Rochambeau sent a message to Admiral de Grasse, telling him to take his fleet to the Chesapeake Bay. Then, Rochambeau stressed to Washington that it was imperative they march down to Yorktown to meet de Grasse. Washington agreed, and they heroically crossed the Delaware river, marched to Yorktown, and won the American Revolution.
Without Rochambeau’s quick thinking, Washington might have continued to go after Clinton, losing more life, any hope of victory.
5. Rochambeau was almost beheaded in the French Revolution.
After his military career, Rochambeau was honored by Louis XVI and became governor of Picardy. When the Reign of Terror occurred, an aged Rochambeau was herded out of retirement and brought to Paris to be executed. It’s recorded that there was an outcry when Rochambeau entered the prison. Everyone who knew him, or knew of him, cried out for the release of “Papa Rochambeau.” Napoleon pardoned the war hero and he returned to him home to live out his final days in peace.
Lomask, M. (1965). Rochambeau and our French allies. New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons.
Ruppert, B. (2016, November 04). The Three Letters that determined the Campaign to Yorktown. Retrieved from https://allthingsliberty.com/2016/11/three-letters-determined-campaign-yorktown/
Selig, R. A. (2007). March to victory: Washington, Rochambeau, and the Yorktown campaign of 1781. Ft. McNair, DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History.
TV Time DILEMMA
There's nothing that gets me more heated than tv time. Being home a good portion of the week, I've found it crucial to enact strict television rules. No t.v. between the hours of 9 am to 5 pm. This allows a show or two in the morning while I drink my coffee and come to. And then some t.v. time after dinner.
This works 90% of the time... but I happen to share a home with someone who has different television values than I do. Let's just say when the television is on more than normal, my internal self turns into a raging three-year old that slips out with backhanded sarcastic jabs.
Today had been one of those days...
I've had to really take a step back and get to the root of my personal tv drama. Sure, we've all seen the studies about how kids who have too much screen time become functionless members of society [ok, that's my wording], but when I was a kid, it was a huge deal when I learned to rewind the VHS on my own. Thankfully, despite my endless hours of watching Peter Pan, I did grow up and my brain still works. So, will a few "off" days really make a huge difference?
I realized it comes down to value and control. I don't value what's being watched on the tv compared to what can be achieved through hard work. The idle time on the couch REALLY bothers me. And when my rules aren't being followed, my inner three-year-old comes out.
And today, I had to put myself in timeout and let the day unfold differently. With one sick, and a headache myself, I humbly ok'ed the tv going on for no pertinent reason and pushed back the math lessons we were supposed to be getting caught up on.
Not every day can go the way that I like, but I've got to let go and like the day anyway.
Schoolhouse Teachers Review
I’m so excited to have joined the Homeschool Review Crew. I’ve been enjoying reading member’s reviews since we began our homeschooling journey, and now I get to jump in and try out new products and share about them with you! To kick off the year, I got to check out SchoolhouseTeachers.com and was blown away by the variety of resources that they offer! I tried out the Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership, which includes access to over 425+ courses for all ages (even adults!), worksheets, a video library, and access to World Book where children can explore and learn!
To start with, we checked out a 2nd-grade creative writing course: Adventures in Writing. Writing is what I do for fun and for income, but with that being said, I have absolutely no idea how I'd teach my children- or anyone else how to write. We printed out the lesson plan and the course content- a total of 51 pages and got to work exploring!
Now, my son would technically be in 1st grade, so I knew this would be a bit of a stretch. But it was so much fun that he didn’t realize the “stretching” part. The course was made up of 10 lessons and it was recommended we spend 2 weeks on it- working 5 days a week. We took a slower approach as some of the concepts were brand new to him. We started by creating a character in lesson one, developing a setting in lesson two, then creating a plot and focusing on descriptive writing in lessons three and four. Lessons five through ten guided us on writing out the story and editing it, which we tailored to our needs.
The Literacy Center provided really helpful advice for me as a mom, a course we’re looking forward to checking out called “Teaching Reading through Play,” as well as interactive books for my kids to read through their World Book program. World Book is a world of exploring in itself, with interactive content for kids of all ages. My kids enjoyed the early reading books, “Trek’s Travels,” as well as the games.
SchoolhouseTeachers offers so many resources, that I feel like it’s an amazing “start here” place for homeschoolers! It’s easy to invest a small fortune into books, courses, online programs, and video libraries, or you can enjoy just ONE subscription that has it all included! We’re looking forward to watching “Drive Thru History” to complement our history reading and diving into their early reading resources! And, for being awesome readers of the review crew- I’m excited to share a promo code for 30% off the Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership!
Just enter- > CREWFOLLOWER
Be sure to check out more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew and here their thoughts on SchoolhouseTeachers.com!
Tidying Up with the Kulicks
Call it apocalyptic evidence of the Marie Kondo influence sweeping the nation, but I've been inspired to tidy up. I certainly consider my house to be "clean," but with four children running about, toys seem to flow out from their bedrooms like hot lava, damaging the soles of our feet along the way.
My husband and I spent the weekend helping my oldest "tidy up" by bringing a level of organization to his explosion of Legos, but he was unwilling to part with toys and we didn't want to push him at this moment. Then, I set my eyes on my daughter's room. I asked her if she had any toys she didn't play with and wanted to get rid of. She went to her room and emerged with these:
And just like that, the wind that propelled my tidying-up ship stopped blowing.
I smiled and thanked her for deciding to give these toys to someone else. And then I took them and put them in my closet and choked back tears.
HOW COULD SHE NOT LOVE THESE TOYS ANYMORE??
She literally [and un-maliciously] picked out two toys with so much significant value to ME that I had to take a few steps back and ask myself some questions.
Why did these two pink plushes matter so much to me? Well, the doll was the first item that my daughter ever saw in a store and desired. She was around 15 months when we were strolling through Dollar General and her sweet little eyes lit up at the sight of a pink doll. Though I hate "just buying stuff" for my kids, my mommy heart just had to get her that doll. As I saw it in the "get rid of pile," it was a sign of her growing up and maturing, and I just didn't feel ready to let go of that little peanut I once held.
The dog carried a similar sentiment, only she was a few weeks old when I got that for her. Though my little pink princess was too small to enjoy the toy, I bought it thinking about all the fun she could have with it when she grew. Now that she'd grown, enjoyed it and was ready to part with it, I realized I wasn't ready to let go of that precious moment.
In the bustle of four little kids, cherishing moments is often missed when the next wave of chaos breaks, bringing an onslaught of "I'm hungry" and "can I have juice" and "she took my toys," but through all of the waves, there are small reminders of sweetness and simpler times… and this mama is going to cherish in her closet for many more years :)
How do you manage all of the "stuff" your kids accumulate?
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.