September 25, 2013

{Review} Math Mammoth

When the opportunity came my way to review a math curriculum, I was so very ready.  We have never found that one math curriculum that we love. Science? yep. Phonics? yep. History? several. But math, especially lower level math? Nope.

I don't like a math curriculum that moves too fast or that tries break things down to make them easier but just winds up making them more complicated. I like a curriculum that focuses on drilling home the basics. Isn't that what elementary math is all about? I want my daughters to have a firm grasp on basic math, so as they move into more complicated subjects they will be building on a strong base. Math Mammoth says their curriculum is mastery oriented. Turns out that's exactly what I like!

Math Mammoth is a company with a LOT to offer.  I was asked to choose between the Complete Curriculum (Light Blue Series) and Books By Topic (the Blue Series). There are also Review Workbooks (hello, summer math review...), Worksheets by Grade (the Golden Series), Worksheets by Topic (the Green Series) and Make It Real activity learning - where students can see real examples of using math in every day life. 

Maria Miller is the founder and author of Math Mammoth. She is a math teacher turned homeschool mom. When she began seeing how some homeschools were struggling with math she decided to create a thorough math curriculum aimed specifically at the homeschool community.  Her aim is mastery and her way of clearly explaining basic topics helps students firmly grasp those crucial building blocks for advanced math.

Knowing that my older girls were set with doing Khan Academy, I chose to do the Light Blue series in Grade 1 with Lauren. The Light Blue series is a complete curriculum, with text and work books combined into one. There is a free placement test on their website for placing your student properly. If the test results are inconclusive or difficult for a parent/teacher to interpret, Mrs. Miller will personally look over the test and give her recommendation. The Light Blue series is available as a download or as a print book through various online retailers listed here.  The Light Blue series download starts at about $34. Print versions are $12.95 each.

I received the download copy of the Light Blue series. I chose to have the 1-A worktext printed for about $13. The pages are nicely laid out, with a fair amount of practice but not so much that a student would get overwhelmed. I got it printed in black and white, which may be a problem in the future if we need to differentiate colors for something. But we always have the downloaded copy available that we can refer to if necessary.

At the beginning of each chapter, Mrs. Miller explains what to expect in that chapter and why it's being taught.I really enjoy reading these.

{confession: I've skipped ahead and read several! They are so informative!}

There is also a section with games, complete with instructions. For me, this is a huge help for those concepts that a student isn't grasping with the workbook alone. Games are an excellent tool when reading the textbook just isn't 'clicking.' Since I am not very creative with making my own games or thinking of alternative ways to explain something, this is a valuable resource.

And Lauren's favorite thing is probably the online games, of course.  Having your children online can be intimidating for some people, but we appreciate that our daughters can find webpages and navigate their way around the web. These resources are so helpful for review.

I love that at the beginning of each chapter, it's broken down into topics. It's easy for me to assign Lauren's work for the week from this one page, knowing that she can do 2-3 pages a day. For each topic, there is a brief introduction and explanation of the topic. I can read it over with Lauren, help her go through a few examples and then she's on her own. It's quick but very thorough.

 Lauren and I have really enjoyed using Math Mammoth so far. I love, love, love how the first chapter is just going through mastering basic addition. Let's be honest, we've all been stuck in a check-out line somewhere because the cashier had to make change in her head. A lot of people get stuck on basic addition and subtraction! Math Mammoth teaches in different ways to keep things interesting.  Mastering these basic topics is so very important. It's great that Math Mammoth changes the exercises and practice problems to keep the student on their toes.

My favorite exercise so far has been teaching math facts with missing numbers - this curriculum teaches basic addition backwards, forwards and inside out to be sure that the student is realy comprehending the idea, not just memorizing the facts. I was so surpised to watch Lauren fly right through the Addition Facts up to 5 that you see in this photo. She knew every one instantly. She thoroughly understands it and because of that, she has memorized her addition facts up to 5 already.

Math Mammoth has been a huge hit in our house. Lauren likes that with a small bit of instruction from me, she will then be able to do her pages by herself.  It also frees me up to work with the other girls on their school.

If you're not happy with the math curriculum you've chosen for your child, you can try Math Mammoth for free. When you go to the Math Mammoth site and choose to sign up for one of the two informative email subscriptions, you also receive a free 300 page download of samples from every grade and every book. What a great way to check out these products without spending a dime! If you'd like to read what other homeschoolers think of Math Mammoth, check out the Mosaic Reviews page. Each reviewer was able to choose what they needed, so there will be tons of information about different grades and Math Mammoth products.

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