# Why, oh Why, oh Singapore Math?

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Why do they have to have these horribly hard word problems? I love SM. I have used it for all of my children's math so far (after trying lots of others). I always came back to SM because it just teaches higher thinking without too much repetition or overkill. This is what I love about it. I HATE the horribly challenging word problems. This is one of the last in the review of 5B:

David and Peter had \$90 and \$200 respectively. They were each given an equal amount of money. Then Peter had twice as much money as David. How much money did each boy receive?

v

I can solve this (using algebra). My son has absolutely no idea how to solve this! I can't even begin to tell him how to do it the "Singapore" way!

Some of you use the Intensive Practice books and the Challenging Word Problems. I've never used these books because I felt that my kids were learning enough math, well enough, that I didn't need to burden them with more work. (I'm a less is more type teacher). If we had bothered to do more work, would he be more able to do these horrible word problems? Right now I just treat some of them as curiosities and puzzles to be worked through together and figure when he gets to ALGEBRA in a few years, he will be able to solve something like this.

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OK, first tell me what the correct answer is so I don't embarrass myself. If I got it right, I'll try to show the bar diagrams. :lol:

OH alright, here goes....is it \$20?

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You have to use the bar diagrams to do it. Get out your chalkboard, whiteboard, or a big piece of paper and draw them out. Each section in CWP starts with an explanation of how to use the bar diagrams to solve the problems in that section. Back up and work through it till it makes sense.

Or use legos.

Draw the bars for the original, add dashed bars for the additional. They're stacked so you can draw a line down and show half. Now you have a blank area to the right on the larger quantity. Shove the smaller quantity over to define that blank space. So now you have the 90+gift is the same as some portion of the 200 + gift. Whack off the gifts and you're left with the portion of the 200 being 90. That means the other side of the 200 is 110. Double that to get back to the original and you get 220. That means the gift was 20.

Edited by OhElizabeth
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Some of you use the Intensive Practice books and the Challenging Word Problems. I've never used these books because I felt that my kids were learning enough math, well enough, that I didn't need to burden them with more work. (I'm a less is more type teacher). If we had bothered to do more work, would he be more able to do these horrible word problems? Right now I just treat some of them as curiosities and puzzles to be worked through together and figure when he gets to ALGEBRA in a few years, he will be able to solve something like this.

Sorry, but yes, starting early on with CWP and using bar models really does a great job of training in word problems.

In CWP 3 a tricky one was "Jim and Dan have \$24 altogether. If Jim gives \$2 to Dan, he will have three times as much money as Dan. How much money does Jim have?"

I've forced my son to do bar models for some "easy" problems earlier so he got the hang of drawing the bars. I found the iExcel books good for doing the bar model setups. He's at the stage now where I don't force him to draw a bar model unless he needs it because he's stuck. I'm also starting to show him that we can use algebra to solve the word problems.

I really like how the bar models give a great transition from the concrete to abstract. It gives a solid visual and then gives a wonderful setup to transition into algebra.

I've also found it fascinating to see that there are some of the problems that the bar model is significantly faster than an algebraic approach. I figure that the more tools my son has to solve a problem, the better.

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Here's what I did.

David is [----90----]

Peter is [----90---][-------------110------]

After

David is [---90-----][X]

Peter is [---90----][X][-------110---------]

Now Peter has 2x as much as David so I make David's bar equal to Peters.

David is [----90-----][X][X][-----90-----]

Peter is [-----90-----][X][---------110------]

So I start tossing what things are equal between David and Peter b/c they cancel each other. So I can toss an X from David and an X from Peter, leaving an X for David. The two 90s from David and Peter cancel each other. This leaves DAvid with x+90 and Peter with 110. Remove 90 from David and Peter, leaves X for David and 20 for Peter. Therefore X must equal 20.

Peter=X+90+110=X+200

David=X+90

P=2D

X+200=2(X+90)

X+200=2X+180

20=x

Am I right?

Edited by Capt_Uhura
formatting
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Pretend the dashes are bars. This is what the HIG says:

Before: 90

David: (------)

Peter:(-----------------------)

200

After:

(--------!--) After both recieved equal amounts. Peter has 2X the amount

(-------------------!--) Or David has half the amount.

They doubled David's amount. Then rearranged and got this.

Amount received =200-(2X90)= 200-180=20. So, they each received \$20.

That is from the Home Instructor's Guide. I needed it after 4B. I could not survive without it.

Blessings,

Karen

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/testimony

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You know what I think is interesting about this is there are MULTIPLE ways to think through it, as the above answers show. The interesting thing is that it can be done without any x's at all, just moving the bars around, whacking things, seeing relationships, and thinking.

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You know what I think is interesting about this is there are MULTIPLE ways to think through it, as the above answers show. The interesting thing is that it can be done without any x's at all, just moving the bars around, whacking things, seeing relationships, and thinking.

When I have hit a brick wall with these problems :banghead:, the HIG may not be the ideal solution, but it is nice to have something that gives you a solution.

I am learning with Singapore math. The math is challenging, but there are no supports as to how you arrive at a problem. The Challenging Word Problems (the old edition) books, they only give the answer. You don't know how they arrived at their answer. It is frustrating because you can spend hours on one problem. So, having a solution as to how to figure out a problem, is better than just have an answer. Just my opinion and my experience.

We can only possess what we experience!

Blessings,

Karen

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/testimony

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Sorry, but yes, starting early on with CWP and using bar models really does a great job of training in word problems.

So true. My kids love word problems.

In CWP 3 a tricky one was "Jim and Dan have \$24 altogether. If Jim gives \$2 to Dan, he will have three times as much money as Dan. How much money does Jim have?"

I've forced my son to do bar models for some "easy" problems earlier so he got the hang of drawing the bars. I found the iExcel books good for doing the bar model setups. He's at the stage now where I don't force him to draw a bar model unless he needs it because he's stuck. I'm also starting to show him that we can use algebra to solve the word problems.

I really like how the bar models give a great transition from the concrete to abstract. It gives a solid visual and then gives a wonderful setup to transition into algebra.

ITA. I'VE been able to learn algebra the second time around because of my exposure to Singapore Math bar diagrams. I was totally lost on setting up equations prior to SM.

I've also found it fascinating to see that there are some of the problems that the bar model is significantly faster than an algebraic approach. I figure that the more tools my son has to solve a problem, the better.

;) When my mother-in-law visits (she's a retired math teacher), we race to solve CWP problems and much of the time I'm faster solving it with bars than she is with solving it with algebra!

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Yes, I'll agree. Once you have done IP and CWP, the ones in the book are a piece of cake.

We slog through the IP and CWP, but ds has never had a problem with the ones in the book.

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We don't even usually have a problem with the CWP, but the intensive pratice ones can be hard!

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We don't even usually have a problem with the CWP, but the intensive pratice ones can be hard!

Yes, we work through the IP first, then the CWP are a breeze!

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But if I bought IP or CWP books, where are the solutions? Do I just have to figure them out? How much time are y'all spending on math anyway? I really was hoping for 1/2 hour or less!

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We dropped Singapore and switched-I just found it ridiculous. JMHO.

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But if I bought IP or CWP books, where are the solutions? Do I just have to figure them out? How much time are y'all spending on math anyway? I really was hoping for 1/2 hour or less!

There aren't solutions. The answers alone are in the back of the book - but no step-by-step solutions (which does make some of the problems tricky). Thus, I've started out working the problems myself to have solutions with bar diagrams.

We're spending about 40-60 min on math daily.

I want math to be rock solid - and then some. And I believe that the only way to get really good is to do tons of practice. We do the text (Standards), workbook, IP, CWP, iExcel, and Miquon (with occasional additional add ins).

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The newer series 70 Challenging Word Problems books, I THINK have the solutions. My local teacher store carries those. I don't know if they are as challenging as CWP however.

We spend a lot of time on math...... At least an hour daily but if you subtract dawdling, it's about 45-60min each day.

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Yes, this. I work out the problems, too.

Ds 11 spends at least 45 min. a day on math, ds 8 spends at least 30, ds 5 just does one lesson and then we see how it is going.

We do Singapore TB, WB, IP and CWP. My guys enjoy it... if they weren't or they seemed to be really struggling, I'd consider switching. Even with my very mathy kids, some of the problems in IP and CWP can be very challenging and this is part of why I love the books. Ds11 needed to learn how to actually work to find the answer to a math problem.

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The newer series 70 Challenging Word Problems books, I THINK have the solutions. My local teacher store carries those. I don't know if they are as challenging as CWP however.

FYI - the Frank Schaeffer books are just using the Singapore name but are not associated with the program.

The new CWP books are here.

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Singapore uses the concept of "units" to solve those word problems. They were tough for us at first too, but then we got the hang of them. You get plenty of practice in them believe me. lol By the time dd finished the Primary series she was able to do them on her own unassisted and get them correct. It is a great foundation for algebra and my dd was able to glide right into algebra this year without needing a pre-algebra course and she's doing really well with it. I credit Singapore because she is not a mathy kid and I am SO not a mathy mom, but both of us were able to grasp the concept of the units (eventually :blushing: ) and we get it now. lol

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Hey! That's one of the problems that killed me when DS did it!!!!!!!!!! It was a bear to figure out.

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It has helped me to do all the problems on my own before assigning them to my kids. I've got to be solid on the solution myself if I'm supposed to guide them to it.

It takes some time, and my friends laugh at me and say I'm over-the-top, but it pays off during math time.

Someone asked how long we spend on math each day; I'd say about 45-60 min and sometimes more.

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Oh but that is what I LOVE about Singapore. :D

Though I could do without some of the IP problems, the non-story ones. Ugh!

Remember you can look them up on Singapore.com.

Heather

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I love that Singapore stretches my kids' understanding of math, even while I am frustrated by it! I just get frustrated when a simple story problem gets so complicated. I want my kids to get a firm, concrete understanding of math--and I think that Singapore does that. I just get frustrated by the focus on Algebraic thinking when my kids don't completely understand fractions yet.

Also, I don't want math to take over my curriculum. I know it's important, but so is reading, and writing, and spelling, and history, and science, and music, and everything else. If Singapore isn't going to work without the IP and CWP books, that should be made known when the books are sold.

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I love that Singapore stretches my kids' understanding of math, even while I am frustrated by it! I just get frustrated when a simple story problem gets so complicated. I want my kids to get a firm, concrete understanding of math--and I think that Singapore does that. I just get frustrated by the focus on Algebraic thinking when my kids don't completely understand fractions yet.

Also, I don't want math to take over my curriculum. I know it's important, but so is reading, and writing, and spelling, and history, and science, and music, and everything else. If Singapore isn't going to work without the IP and CWP books, that should be made known when the books are sold.

My understanding is that the program does stand alone without the CWP and IP books. Jenny recommends you use those if you plan to continue with the upper level Singapore math so the child gets used to having to chew on things, but even then she didn't say it was necessary.

Heather

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I have no solutions for you, but I can sympathize! I often tell her to struggle with it for a while, and then move on. Sometimes we'll go back and try it again.

I remember reading at one point that if kids get 75% of the problems, they are doing very well. That's what I hold on to, true or not. ;)

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I love that Singapore stretches my kids' understanding of math, even while I am frustrated by it! I just get frustrated when a simple story problem gets so complicated. I want my kids to get a firm, concrete understanding of math--and I think that Singapore does that. I just get frustrated by the focus on Algebraic thinking when my kids don't completely understand fractions yet.

Also, I don't want math to take over my curriculum. I know it's important, but so is reading, and writing, and spelling, and history, and science, and music, and everything else. If Singapore isn't going to work without the IP and CWP books, that should be made known when the books are sold.

I don't think anyone is saying that the program won't "work" without the IP and CWP, just that if you do those in addition, the problems in the book are much less complex.

I do think that in order to be successful with Singapore, the parent, or whoever is teaching needs to understand how to use the bar diagram method of working the problems. Most kids can't just teach themselves how to do that. You have to teach them how.

The way that I learned how to do the problems was by working through the problems in the CWP and IP books with my guy. I think that is what most of the people who are recommending the CWP and IP are saying. It is essential that you understand the method so that you can show him how to do it. Singapore really can't be self-teaching.

If Singapore is driving you up the proverbial wall and does the same to him, perhaps you should look at a more traditional program that offers more direct instruction. There is nothing wrong with doing that. The point is to learn math, not to be frustrated with math.

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My DD did Hands-on Equations prior to switching from RS to Singapore so she often finds it easier to solve these kinds of word problems with algebra rather than using the bar model method.

We do a LOT of work with word problems in our HS since that is where my DD has difficulty. Give her a straight-forward equation and she can solve it easy-peasy. Give her a word problem and often the reaction is:willy_nilly:.

The goal is to get her proficient with these kinds of problems before they start showing up on high-stakes exams like high school & college admissions tests.

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I don't think anyone is saying that the program won't "work" without the IP and CWP, just that if you do those in addition, the problems in the book are much less complex.

I do think that in order to be successful with Singapore, the parent, or whoever is teaching needs to understand how to use the bar diagram method of working the problems. Most kids can't just teach themselves how to do that. You have to teach them how.

The way that I learned how to do the problems was by working through the problems in the CWP and IP books with my guy. I think that is what most of the people who are recommending the CWP and IP are saying. It is essential that you understand the method so that you can show him how to do it. Singapore really can't be self-teaching.

If Singapore is driving you up the proverbial wall and does the same to him, perhaps you should look at a more traditional program that offers more direct instruction. There is nothing wrong with doing that. The point is to learn math, not to be frustrated with math.

Agreed, A Handbook for Mathematics Teacher in Primary Schools does an excellent job of doing this and is pretty approachable. Large font lots of diagrams. It is how I learned them. It isn't all theory to sludge through, but is very practical.

Heather

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Okay, so. . .

I get how to do the bar diagrams. I use them all the time with my younger kids and with this current kid, too. What I didn't understand about your descriptions of this math problem was the cancelling step--where you cancelled like amounts. Apparently I don't understand the Bar Diagrams to the extent that I should. Where should I look to learn this for future kids? I have never owned the HIGs because I felt pretty confident in teaching the math. Is that where I should start? HIG for each level I'm teaching (2B, 4A, 6A)?

Or is this what the Handbook referenced above teaches?

Becky

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That was the part I was always missing w/ the bar diagrams and then one day it just hit me. In those problems where one is 2x the other, or 3x the other etc. if you make the bars equivalent, then whatever they have the same you can ignore. If you look at the algebra I posted, it's the first or 2nd step where you set up P=2D. So ignoring the portions of bars which are equal (removing an X from each bar, removing the 90s from each bar) is just like subtracting an X from each side and subtracting a 90 from each side.

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That's whyI sold our CWP. I debated it a lot and overpriced them on Amazon hoping no one would really buy them. I really want to like them. I'll just teach Algebra when we get there and for now we like Challenge Math better.

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Okay, so. . .

I get how to do the bar diagrams. I use them all the time with my younger kids and with this current kid, too. What I didn't understand about your descriptions of this math problem was the cancelling step--where you cancelled like amounts. Apparently I don't understand the Bar Diagrams to the extent that I should. Where should I look to learn this for future kids? I have never owned the HIGs because I felt pretty confident in teaching the math. Is that where I should start? HIG for each level I'm teaching (2B, 4A, 6A)?

Or is this what the Handbook referenced above teaches?

Becky

Becky,

Yes the above book can be found here, and does explain how to do bar diagrams. If you prefer to just work it out as you go and simply need fully worked answers, the HIG has that for the primary texts, not the CWP or IP books though.

The cheapest thing to do is go search the singaporemath forums. Most difficult ones have been asked about, and if you do happen to have one that hasn't been addressed there are several people who hang out there. You will probably get an answer quickly.

Heather

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It has helped me to do all the problems on my own before assigning them to my kids. I've got to be solid on the solution myself if I'm supposed to guide them to it.

It takes some time, and my friends laugh at me and say I'm over-the-top, but it pays off during math time.

Someone asked how long we spend on math each day; I'd say about 45-60 min and sometimes more.

This is what I am having to do now.

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