sh Education

Singapore maths book for primary schools

IS your primary schooler facing challenges with problem sums solving? Use simple strategies from ThinkingMath@onSponge supplementary books to Conquer Problem Sums!

ONSPONGE Private Limited launched in January, 2009 its thinkingMath@onSponge resource, a series of four supplementary print titles called Conquer Problem Sums forming part of the enhanced learning resource for Primary 3 to 6.

onSponge Director Ms Elsa Tan reported that the resource drew an encouraging response in the market particularly among educators.

The thinkingMath@onSponge resource offers parents and educators an effective means to equip children with the appropriate and varied skills (beyond model drawing) to manage daunting problem sums. It is developed by a panel of experienced heads of department (HODs) and teachers led by Mr Ammiel Wan.



The Conquer Problem Sums titles in thinkingMath@onSponge incorporate both thinking and procedural learning aspects, these being the core aspects of problem sum solving.

Intended to close the gap between the limited time for classroom learning and unproductive drilling with assessment books, this thinkingMath@onSponge resource is easy to use with its topical arrangement to complement schools' textbooks and workbooks.

Strategies provide a breakthrough in understanding

Ms Tan revealed: "thinkingMath@onSponge Conquer Problem Sums is a result of my personal experience with my children. After I was first introduced the strategies (using key constructs), I saw a breakthrough as I coached my children, noting their enhanced ability to handle the more complicated problem sums."

She added that as a publisher, she then felt the need to make known such learning. "As a parent, I see this as a possible stress reliever to many concerned parents, and a confidence booster to our children whose supposedly poor performance in problem sums could simply be the lack of exposure to other strategies apart from model drawing which use may not be ideal in more complicated sums or with children who might not have a visual learning style."

Now that the thinkingMath@onSponge series of print titles have been published (including some online resources), she shared that "the books have seen 'adoption' by a few schools including some top performing ones."

Said Ms Tan: "I hope it is a step closer to lesser stress at home (and in school) struggling with the problem sums!"

Mr Chris Rogers, part of the thinkingMath@onSponge development panel said that the key constructs based strategies in the books were earlier trialled successfully at a top school over three years among varying ability learners from gifted to below average, resulting in more PSLE distinctions from 58% to 79.4%. "My daughter used the draft version of Conquer Problem Sums for Primary 3 two weeks before her final exam. She topped the class at her school!" he added.

Commenting on the encouraging market response to Conquer Problem Sums, he said, "I like to think that it demonstrates the desire of both parents and educators to improve the results while reducing the effort. It is very much in keeping with Singapore's slogan Teach Less Learn More."

Mr Rogers drew attention to a 2008 speech by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who had shared that the nation's education agenda was ' teach students how to think, to be creative in problem-solving, and to keep on absorbing new knowledge...'. "Exactly what this thinkingMath@onSponge resource is all about," said Mr Rogers. "It is hoped that it will do its part to take Singapore mathematics to another level."

Key highlights of Conquer Problem Sums

As a series covering the levels of Primary 3 to 6, the books introduce strategies for more effective and efficient problem solving in the lower primary levels (ages 9-10) hence giving pupils a head start to the more challenging problems at upper primary (ages 11-12). Key constructs are used to assist pupils in getting a critical conceptual grasp of the problem before attempting to select a method (procedural step) to solve the problem. Each unit within a chapter highlights key terms to look out, provides tips to enhance understanding, and also lays out alternative approaches (see below) wherever possible.



In addition, the units are scaffolded to build children's confidence in problem solving and expose them to a variety of problems within a topic.

Along with more general content, the online space features a new thinkingMath@onSponge forum to facilitate discussion and greater understanding about teaching problem sums solving in children. Users of the books are encouraged to register, share their experiences and post queries for the panel of developers.

For further information, those interested may contact onSponge at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Resource components

This ThinkingMath@onSponge resource comprises four print titles (listed below) and associated online components currently being finalized for access by print book users. Additional components are being prepared for registered community users.

Conquer Problem Sums for Primary 3
Conquer Problem Sums for Primary 4
Conquer Problem Sums for Primary 5
Conquer Problem Sums for Primary 6 is a parenting and learning community for families, parents, educators and tutors interested in the nurturing and development of tweens or preteens. With select partners, it helps to make available to the community effective learning-related products, aesthetic development programmes and other relevant products and services. It seeks to provide both experiential and expert advice, and relevant news and trend perspectives through its editorials, blogs and forums.

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