All About Dimensions by Singapore Math
Dimensions from Singapore Math is the newest line of curriculum products from Singapore Math. It was written by American educators who have been using Singapore Math in their classrooms for years. Currently, Teacher’s Guides are designed for classroom use, but lots of homeschoolers are successfully using this program and adapting it for use at home. Singapore Math has a great Q&A blog post for Homeschoolers on their site.
Singapore Math use a unique CPA (Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract) progression to learning. There is a nice explanation in that link with a video explaining the concept in detail.
Dimensions has full-color Teacher’s Guides and Textbooks through all of Elementary. The Workbooks are grayscale. You can view the entire scope and sequence of Dimensions Math here.
For each Lesson you will follow a sequence: Think, Learn, Do (and then sometimes: Activities) and then additional practice in the Workbook. Note that each Chapter contains a number of Lessons, and, again, this Teacher’s Guide is intended for a classroom experience so there will be a number of activities that I find we either skip or adapt. I tend to read an entire Chapter of the Teacher’s Guide in advance, then flag just a couple ideas from the Activity section of each Chapter which I might incorporate. So, for example, in one week we might do math for four separate days. One of those days I might include an extra activity that fits with the math concepts being learned. Otherwise, we work through the Think-Learn-Do sections, often using something hands-on and some of the Textbook/Workbook each day.
Initially the amount of choices and information in the Teacher’s Guides for Dimensions Math can feel overwhelming! Eventually, I think if you commit to this curriculum, you will get the hang of it and learn to go through the Teacher’s Guides with a discerning eye for what makes sense for your home learning style and your student. I personally like having lots of instruction and detail and ideas in the Teacher’s Guides. I’m never left wondering how the heck to teach in Singapore Math style (which is different than how I was taught). And, I like having lots of ideas for activities so I can select which ones I think will work best for us (or ones that use materials we already have around the house). That said, I fully appreciate that there will be some who do not like the idea of picking and choosing and just want a simplified instruction manual.
Note also that there is no scripted lesson plan here. I have tried other math curricula that do have more of a scripted approach and understand that that can be nice because it does not require you to read in advance. So, just note that I do recommend that if you use Dimensions Math you should read ahead a whole chapter before you begin with your student.
If you don’t have time to read “how to” do something before the day it’s scheduled to begin, don’t begin. Make sure you understand what you’re asking your kids to do before you do it with them.Julie Bogart, Brave Writer
For another helpful resource, see: How to Choose a Homeschool Math Curriculum
For First Grade I purchased the essential set from Singapore Math:
- Teacher’s Guide 1A
- Textbook 1A
- Workbook 1A
- Teacher’s Guide 1B
- Textbook 1B
- Workbook 1B
You can always search for the Teacher’s Guides on the Buy-Sell-Trade Facebook Group.
The Teacher’s Guides provide clear explanations on how to teach in the Singapore Math methodology and demonstrate what each Chapter is trying to accomplish, addressing any variances or concerns that might come up. I would be surprised by a homeschool that could use Dimensions without the Teacher’s Guides and only using the Textbooks, but I’m sure it has been done.
Blackline Masters are companion printables for the curriculum. Each chapter in the Teacher’s Guide will let you know upfront which printables you will need. I recommend waiting until you get to each chapter to determine which items you actually need to print. Many times the same ones from previous chapters show up and you should not need to print them again. I also found that a lot of these we did not print at all! Sometimes they are items designed for a classroom activity which would not make sense for us to use. I also recommend getting some Dry Erase Write-and-Wipe Pouches and using dry erase markers — several Blackline Masters can be placed in these and you can use them over and over again rather than need to print a new sheet multiple times for different lessons.
Below I am going to give you a number of extra math resources we have and incorporate in our math lessons. I first want to say that the MAIN two resources I use the most are:
You can print number cards from the Blackline Masters but I felt that would be a lot of paper and cutting and laminating so just bought flashcards instead.
The Linking Cubes are fantastic! There are 100 total an 10 different colors. These work well for so many uses throughout the curriculum that I find no need for any other specific math manipulatives.
Other Helpful Math Manipulates and Resources
In Level 1 of Dimensions your student will, by the end, cover addition and subtraction within 100, fractions, time, measuring, grouping and sharing, and money.
Specific supplies used for the curriculum are listed in the Teacher’s Guides and you can peruse the Singapore Math store to get an idea of the types of materials used. Note that for each lesson you likely do not need EVERY supply listed in the book, as these guides were intended for classroom use.
I try to simplify what we use and purchase things that I feel will get a lot of use. For example, I purchased a nice Wooden Hundred Board which seems to have more longetivity of use in math than some other things. Instead of also have a wooden Ten-Frame, I printed out the Ten-Frame and Twenty-Frame 8 1/2 x 11″ sheets from the Blackline Masters and keep them in a Dry Erase Write-and-Wipe Pouches for reuse. There are ways to not go totally crazy on math supplies! I also use a small Dry Erase Board that fits on our school cart since we live in a space space and do not have a wall chalkboard.
Below is a list of what I have regularly used through Level 1 of Dimensions Math:
- Linking Cubes (Set of 100)
- Numbers 1-100 Flashcards
- Wooden Place Value Cards (Montessori)
- Various Gaming Die (Ten-Sided and Twenty-Sided are great!)
- Wooden Hundred Board
- Dry Erase Write-and-Wipe Pouches (for reusing Blackline Masters)
- Dry Erase Board
- Sandpaper Numbers (mostly Pre-K and K but still have some use in Level 1)
- Math Operations Chalkboard
- Chalkboard Clock or Wooden Clock
- Wooden Geometric Solids
- Wood Fraction Board and/or Fractions Circles
- Pattern Blocks (Wood or Magnetic)
A Few Favorite Games That Incorporate Math Skills
- Zeus on the Loose
- Money Bags
- Sleeping Queens
- Monopoly Junior
- Clumsy Thief Junior
- Race to Planet X
We also have a variety of puzzles!
Video: Do A Lesson With Us of Dimensions 1A
Below is an inside look at an early lesson of Dimensions 1A. I took these videos at the beginning of our school year near September 2020. My son was at the beginning of his first grade year and near 7 years old.
Note that I did a little extra activities for this video than I normally would so that you could see a few things in action.
I also said in the video that we did not use the extra 1A Workbook. However, we did end up incorporating the workbook because I do feel that those extra sheets for practice and review come in handy.
Hope this is helpful!
A Note About Number Bonds
Number bonds are used in Dimensions Math both in the Kindergarten and Level 1 curricula (and looking ahead, I see them in Level 2 as well which gets in to multiplication and division). When I switched from a different math program to Dimensions Math, I actually started my 1st grade son with Dimensions Level KB because I wanted him to get comfortable with the structure and style of Singapore Math before diving in to the Level 1 curriculum. One component of the curriculum I wanted him to gain a comfort level with is the use of number bonds.
Number bonds are pictorial representations of a number and the parts that make it. Often this is shown with two circles around the parts with lines drawn to one circle around the whole. When describing a number bond we use “____ and ____ make ____” instead of the formal addition and equal symbols (+ and =). For example: “2 and 3 make 5” as shown in the photo above (from Dimensions 1A Chapter 2).
Chapter 8 in Dimensions Math KB is used to familiarize students with number bonds with the idea that at the end of Dimensions Math Kindergarten the student should know their number bonds to 10 automatically. Lots of games and activities are used in the curriculum to help the child achieve this goal. Note that in the video above you will see my son use a Rekenrek to help learn those 0 to 10 subtraction facts in Level 1A, which eventually we phased out as he gained more confidence and knowledge with Dimensions Math. Eventually, the idea is that he would know “5-3=2” because he knows the number bond “5 is 2 and 3.”
Video: Inside Look at Dimensions 1B
Dimensions 1B expands on the addition and subtraction basics covered in 1A but takes it further. Your child will go from doing addition and subtraction within 100 by the end of Level 1B. This section of the curriculum also covers length, fractions, time, and money.
Here is a look at one page of the Teacher’s Guide:
This is the corresponding Textbook page:
Note that the Teacher’s Guide indicates by this point the students should mostly be doing these problems in the textbook without the use of manipulates. The illustrations in the book show the Linking Cubes but the student won’t be actually counting out 25+47 linking cubes.
Below is a video inside look with more detail about the 1B Dimensions Math curriculum:
My youngest child is already in to the Dimensions Math 1A curriculum. My oldest is finishing up 1B and then for his second grade year start we will work on Dimensions Math Level 2!
That’s it! Thanks for reading and watching. I do hope this is helpful. You can see all the other details about our first grade year here:
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