Friday, February 05, 2010

Math Mammoth (TOS Review)

Treehouse Review Week
Math Mammoth Home Page
Free Samples Download
Placement Tests
FAQ (including ordering information)

"Fully reproducible math workbooks
and worktexts for grades 1-12.
Incredibly affordable!"

I mentioned a few weeks ago that we would be trying out Maria Miller's Math Mammoth series with Crayons this term. We received both grade 3 books in the Light Blue Series (more specifics on the grade 3 books here), and I printed out the first chapter.

"The first chapter in this book deals with addition and subtraction strategies. The student does a lot of mental math, learns addition and subtraction terminology, touches on algebraic problems in the lesson about addition/subtraction connection, practices borrowing, and more."

What else do you do in Grade 3? "Then we tackle the multiplication concept in chapter 2. After that come multiplication tables in chapter 3, so multiplication does take a big part of book A. Then comes a chapter about clock and time (chapter 4) and a chapter about money (chapter 5).

"In part B, we study place value with thousands (chapter 6), then measuring and geometry (chapters 7 and 8), followed by division in chapter 9. In chapter 10, we study a little about multiplying bigger numbers, and finally in chapter 11, it is time for some introductory fraction and decimal topics."

Why do I like this so far? As I've said before, I like the three-year curriculum we've been using with Crayons, but in its final year it does get a bit esoteric with Fibonacci numbers, measurement, and graphing concepts--and I've felt that she really did need more work this year on basics. I wanted to be sure that those arithmetic "acorns" she'd stored up didn't get buried under a lot of other leaves and nuts--nice leaves and nuts, but not what she most needs right now.
It might be that Timmy-Tiptoes part of being a Squirrel: dropping those nuts down deep through the hole in the tree, but not being sure exactly what went down there, or how you're going to get them out again later.--previous Treehouse post
I also like the balance we're getting between a bit of "mom teaching time" and then a reasonable amount of problems for Crayons to do alone--this works very well with the way we like to learn here, and seems to go at about the right pace. I like the uncluttered feeling I get when we work through these pages--they're not fancy, but they offer enough variety to keep things interesting, and include self-checking activities like finding all the answers in a long line of numerals. (If the answer isn't in there, you did it wrong.)

"When you use these books as your only or main mathematics curriculum, they can be like a "framework", but you do have some liberty in organizing the study schedule....This curriculum aims to concentrate on a few major topics at a time and study them in depth....This is opposite to the continually spiraling step-by-step curricula in which each lesson typically is about a different topic from the previous or next lesson, and includes a lot of review problems from past topics. This does not mean that your child wouldn't need occasional review. However, when each major topic is presented in its own chapter, this gives you more freedom to plan the course of study and choose the review times yourself."

This works for us.

An important question for our family: do you need a colour printer? In the third-grade workbooks I downloaded, the colours do make the pages prettier; but they also seem to work fine in black and white. If you're looking for material for younger children, you might want to check out the samples for those years to see if you want them done in colour. [Update, October 2010: We printed out the 3B book in colour because it has several chapters about geometry, measurement etc. which use pictures of rulers, measuring cups and other things that show up better with different colours.]

What is Math Mammoth like in general?

Math Mammoth offers a whole array of downloadable workbooks, from full curriculum, to collections of worksheets on single topics. At first the different series may seem confusing, but the website pretty much explains the differences, for example, between the Blue and the Light Blue books. The Blue series is more remedial or supplemental; Light Blue is designed as a full, largely self-teaching curriculum for grades 1-5.

What is there for older students? Very glad you asked: check out the middle-school and high-school stuff here, including the Make-It-Real series of workbooks. "Make It Real Learning products are workbooks that contain activities or problem situations taken from real-life, with real data. Some examples of the situations are: cell phone plans, autism, population growth, cooking, borrowing money, credit cards, life spans, music downloads, etc. etc. Each activity-lesson starts with basics and goes into more in-depth and challenging evaluations and questions."

What does this cost? It all depends on how much you want to get at one time. You can get the whole Light Blue series, for example--that is, all five grades plus answer keys, a worksheet maker etc.--for US$99 as a download or $104 on CD. Prices of one year's Light Blue curriculum (including the support materials) vary slightly between the Math Mammoth page (it says there they are $29.50) and the Kagi store download page (it's listed there as $33.36). You can also order printed workbooks through General ordering information is here.

Final Take: Over the past few years, I've often noticed Math Mammoth's generosity in offering samples and prizes (I've won a couple of their other products myself), and their interest in working with homeschoolers. I think it's their flexibility that seems to make them a good choice for homeschooling--you can get what you need to start with, get more pages or more help if you need it, and even make up some of your own stuff with the support materials. There is no fancy encryption or stuff that makes printing limited or difficult. And the book we're using has been pretty much print-out-and-use--there's no big learning curve for the parent. I don't know how the materials for the upper years compare to other curricula, but I'd certainly include them in the possibilities for math in the years to come.

Dewey's Disclaimer: This product was received free for purposes of review. No other payment was made. The opinions expressed in this review are our own.


coffeemamma said...

Thank you for such a detailed review! This is one of the programs I'm considering for The Boy next year, so the more info the better :-)

Sarah said...

I was just sharing my own review of Math Mammoth with a friend this afternoon. :)

My son has been using the fourth grade book from the Light Blue Series this year. I agree, the mix of "mom time" and independent work has been just right for us.

The workbooks are, as stated, like a framework and I took Ms. Miller's advice to add in challenging word problems. We work those in every Friday. I choose to use a free resource she listed (Math Stars Problem Solving newsletters) and my son absolutely loves these.

In the download I received for the workbooks (I chose to download and print off our own workbooks), she lists far more additional resources than we'll ever use, but it has been so convenient to have all kinds of links at my fingertips when I've needed an extra idea or something to "change up" the schedule a bit.

I don't mean to make it sound as though I have to add in a lot of extras to fill out this curriculum--it's just that my son has struggled with math up to this year and this curriculum has made it so easy to adjust for his needs.

I will definitely be using the fifth grade workbooks with my son and I know Ms. Miller's been working on a sixth grade set.


Unknown said...

Thanks for your review. I needed someone to review something in comparison on Miquon.

Mama Squirrel said...

Lauren, you might want to note that I wrote this in 2010 (it's now late in 2014), and I believe that Math Mammoth has been adjusted since then to comply with the Common Core standards. If you are considering this program, you should probably look at the MM website for current samples.