Posted by: angiefm | April 7, 2009

More About Math

Here are a few Miscellaneous Math things:


Here’s a quick update about Alethea and the Multiplication Problem, following our earlier post on the issue.  WE DID IT!  Or Alethea did anyway.  We put aside all our math workbooks for 3 weeks and just focused on getting multiplication right and it worked!  We used a combination of Calculadder and Wrap-Ups but never got around to using the Right Start Math Games which I was also intending to use.  Too mummy-intensive.  *grin*

She isn’t as fast as I would like her to be yet (slave-driver mom), but she’s going to get there and I’m so glad we took the time off from the curriculum to do this.  Ah … the beauty of homeschooling.  🙂  She’s going at her math so much faster now that we’ve taken the time to get multiplication right.

Thinking Math by Ammiel Wan

A fellow homeschool mom showed me a series of “Thinking Math” books she bought from and they looked good so I bought them to check out.  They are GOOD!  Alethea has just started on the Primary 3 book and is actually enjoying it!  I have asked her to set the timer for 10 minutes each day and just go at as many problems as she can in that time, but today she went on and on and I had to physically restrain her!  Ha ha.

I have an issue with “challenging” math books.  The ones we have seen and/or tried define challenging as BIGGER numbers or more steps in a problem.  That’s not doing very much for the child except for maybe frustrating her and making her think she’s dumb.  For that reason we have put aside the ones we bought.  Looks like we’ll be sticking with this one though. 

I think it is important for us as homeschoolers to find resources like these because the schools aren’t just relying on the regular workbooks to teach, so neither should we! 

Ammiel Wan (what a name!) is Dean of Curriculum and Head of Department for Mathematics at Catholic High School.  Rumour has it that the school doesn’t use regular assessment books but works on stuff that he designs.  Don’t know how true.  Anyone has kids in Catholic High?  Apparently you can’t buy this series from Popular Bookshop, so you’ll have to do what I did and buy it online from  I bought two books (P3 and 4) and paid less than two dollars for postage.  While you’re there, check out the articles.  Very well written and informative.

Free Exam Papers Online

Next month it will be time for us to put our children through their “mid-year” exams.  As homeschoolers we are required to furnish results of both mid-year and final-year exams to the Ministry of Education. 

Here’s where we get our papers from:  Free past year exam papers of the “top” schools.  No need to buy from those vendors you see everywhere!  😀

The way we do it here is to have our kids take one practice exam, all timed and everything, and then take another for “real”.  Or as real as you can get when you’re sitting at your dining table with your siblings running around and lunch cooking in the kitchen.  You’ll be surprised at how many of those “exam tips” come back to you when you wonder why your child did or didn’t do such-and-such. 

For example – we have had to teach our children that ALL questions must be answered whether or not you are sure of the answer.  Alethea could never understand that one.  She figured if she didn’t know the answer, she would just wait till she could discuss it with me then just get it right!  ha ha.  That’s the way we do our school work, you see.  I always say PRECISION is important.

We also had to tell them that guessing is acceptable and choosing the right multiplication-choice answer by the process of elimination is actually OKAY.  Amazingly Alethea (the only one to have had to “sit” for exams so far) has always finished her papers with plenty of time to spare.  Which really makes me wonder about myself and all my years of not having time to check my papers.   What in the world was i doing!?

Alethea is always super excited when it comes to “exam” time.  She thinks it’s so much fun to do exams because we don’t do anything that resembles an exam paper otherwise (except for math that is)!  Ah … I’m so envious of her positive thinking!  Another reason why homeschooling is great!  😀

I’m actually looking forward to our mid-years this year, because I’ll have two students in the exam hall!



  1. Hi Angie,
    Thanks for the links. There is also another website with free test papers:
    It only goes up to Primary 6.

  2. I had the chance to ‘mentor’ Ammiel when I was working with MOE. 🙂 This books are good yah? And yes, he does design his own teaching materials.

  3. Thanks for the links! I checked out OnSponge and came across this article. Horrors!! was my first reaction… how in heck was I ever going to teach THAT?! Honestly I never knew (consciously, anyway) there were so many types of adjectives AND that there should be an order to them. To my relief, I see it should come naturally if you are a good reader. And on testing myself with the examples, thank goodness, it does. Whew! Another reason to ensure the kids become readers!

  4. so you just did multiplication for three straight weeks and nothing else for maths??? really ah?

  5. when u have thea and tim in the exam hall, can nat and i go play? lemme know when exam days are ok? (we’ll bring ice cream back for the scholars)

  6. I really like the books! Heard about the books from a teacher friend but didn’t pay much attention till I heard you ordered them. Lol. Matthew really likes it and I need to buy one for Jo. A friend is buying for me from St Andrew’s Pri. Only students from the top 2 classes will get to use them. What a shame…
    Gave them a mock exam last week and one math paper almost drove Matt nuts! I must remember to go thro’ the papers briefly b4 using them. 😛

  7. My boys are in Catholic High. And yes, they don’t use Math textbooks. Just notes/worksheets. They actually don’t use that book sold by OnSponge in school, but my elder p6 boy is using the book in his outside Math tuition class.

  8. Hi there

    Thanks very much for the positive feedback. I am Chris, one of the owners of onSponge and a parent with a daughter in P4. A few of us started onSponge because we were concerned over the gap between what is required for PSLE and what the kids were learning. This lead to us producing and publishing the ThinkingMath books with a panel of five teachers. Now with the constant requests from parents and schools we have started a series of workshops that kids (and parents) can attend. For parents like connie, more and more schools are picking them up across the board so hopefully St Andrews will too.

    Please feel free to give us direct feedback through our site at, I would love to hear both positive and negative comments and do check out the forums where both kids and parents are asking questions. Hopefully we can help you understand the methods better and achieve the A* we all push for 🙂

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