Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: Math Mammoth

I was totally overwhelmed by the products I received from Math Mammoth.  So this review is going to be about three of the product types:  Light Blue (Richard and Thomas), Blue (William), and the Make It Real Learning portion of the Green series.

Math Mammoth offers basically four different types of math products.  There is a full curriculum (light blue) for grades 1-5 (6th is coming soon).  There are worktexts by topic (blue) which also basically covers grades 1-5.  There are worksheets by grade (gold) which contain problems only, no teaching.  And there are worksheets by topic (green), which include older grades.

A bit about my family and math, before I get too far into the review.  I always did well in math (except geometry, and trigonometry).  Numbers don't intimidate me.  My husband always did well in math.  My kids have all grasped math pretty easily, at least the concepts (so far, they've all been a little slow on memorizing math facts).  We've used lots of different math programs.  My basic math teaching theory at the moment is that I want solid materials that my kids can use fairly independently, as I want to focus my teaching time on areas where they need more hand-holding.

Light Blue:  I have Richard and Thomas working in the Light Blue series, aka their Complete Curriculum.  I love this.  On so many levels.  The biggest is that I now have a few files on my computer and I can go in, print out just the pages my kids will work on TODAY, and we never ever ever have to spend time looking for a missing math book.

Okay, well, that's not enough for me to heartily recommend a math program.  So let's take a look at what Richard is doing.  He's working in the first grade Math Mammoth book, 1A at the moment.  All together, the first grade books (each grade comes with an A and a B worktext) total 229 pages.  So, to get through a "grade" in a school year, the child needs to average roughly a worksheet page per day.

Let's look at chapter 1, Addition Within 0-10.  The first page is directed to the teacher, giving suggestions for how to demonstrate the concept of addition, how to introduce the + and = signs, and a basic overview of the approach used in this chapter.

The next page includes three different math games to play with your child, using playing cards and small objects (marbles, blocks, etc.).  The next two pages include the table of contents for the chapter, and a dozen or so websites where your child can go play various addition games online.

Then comes the worktext part.  This is so very easy to implement.  Print it, read the directions, and the child can work on the page.  The pages include basic colors, though we print in black and white and that works fine so far.  There are 45 total worksheet pages in this chapter, and they vary nicely and build on each other logically.  The chapter includes grouping objects, working with + and =, number lines, word problems, missing addend problems (5 + ___ = 8), tables, and puzzles.  The child is supposed to do some of the work orally, and there are mental math sections.

Chapter 2 is Subtraction Within 0-10.  Chapter 3 is Addition and Subtraction Facts.  And that is everything in 1A.  Clearly, this is a mastery-based approach, and you are not skipping around from one topic to another, never getting very deep with any of them.  You spend a good chunk of time on one topic, with a fair amount of variety in how it is presented.  I love this.

1B gets a little more variety, and I can see pulling some of these topics in if I have a child who gets stuck as we are working in the first part.  Chapter titles are: Place Value Within 0-100; Clock; Shapes and Measuring; Adding and Subtracting Within 0-100; Coins.  So, basically at the end of 1st grade math, your child has worked extensively with addition and subtraction, including place value.  And they have worked with time, shapes, measuring and coins.

The Grade 2 materials are similar.  There is a short review in chapter 1, then Clock, two chapters on addition and subtraction, and a chapter on money rounds out 2A.  2B includes Geometry and Fractions, Place Value to 1000, Mental Addition and Subtraction, Measuring, Adding and Subtracting in Columns, and an introduction to multiplication.

The grades continue like that... grade 3 focuses on multiplication and division, plus 3-4 digit addition and subtraction.  Grade 4 continues into multi-digit multiplication and long divisions.  Grade 5 focuses mostly on fractions and decimals, plus work in graphing and multi-step word problems.  Grade 6 is coming soon -- 6A is expected to be out in March, 6B is planned for fall.  Each grade contains some other topics, I just listed the primary focus.

What I like:  I can print just what I need.  And when Trina gets to first grade math, I can print just what she needs as she needs it too.  I think the teaching is solid.  I love that the games and websites are included.  This requires almost ZERO teacher prep, aside from printing, which is absolutely fabulous.  I am able to sit down at the table and have all four of my boys working on math at the same time, and just switch between them as needed.  Obviously, I need to spend more time doing things like reading directions to my 5 year old.  I desperately needed something that is systematic and EASY for me to teach.  The Math Mammoth Light Blue series sure seems to fit the bill.  And it is pretty inexpensive.  Just under $30 for a complete grade (the A and B books), and you can use that for all your kids, and you don't have to buy replacement workbooks, nor do you have to find a place to store them on your shelves.

Oh, and for the Grade 1 materials, the money section is in US money, but included in other pdf files are alternate Chapter 8's -- one in Canadian currency, and one using Euros.  The measurement chapter includes both inches and centimeters.  In the supplemental folder, you get chapter reviews, chapter tests, and a worksheet creator, so if your child is not getting enough practice on a concept, you can easily give them more.  Similar materials (alternate money, reviews, tests, worksheet generators) are available in the other levels also, and standard and metric measurements are taught throughout.

The Blue Series.  Math Mammoth generously sent a couple of their Blue Series books for William to work in, and I already owned (but hadn't used) a couple others.  The Blue Series is topic-based worktexts -- which means there is teaching included.  William is working in the Division 1 (meant for 3rd grade), and Geometry 1 (4th-5th grades), but I also pulled out Add & Subtract 4 (grades 3-4) and Clocks (grades 1-3) to look at for this review also.

The Blue books vary in length, and price ($2-$7 per book).  I'll focus on Division 1, which is 71 pages and costs $3.50.  This book also starts off with information for the teacher, including websites.  The worktext is split into 13 sections, each consisting of approximately 4 worksheets.  These build on each other logically, and includes learning the vocabulary of division.

For William, the Blue series was perfect.  He wasn't quite ready to jump into the 5th grade Math Mammoth book, because he has a couple topics he just hasn't worked with enough.  Focusing on a single topic works well right now.  I hope to get him into the Light Blue series too, though, in the next month or so.

Finally, Make it Real Learning.  Wow.  I am so excited about this series, and I absolutely will be getting more of these.  There are currently 11 titles in MIRL, plus the States by the Number series, and they cost $4.99 each.  I own five titles (Arithmetic 1, Linear Functions 2, Periodic and Piecewise Functions, Polynomial, Power, Logistic and Rational Functions, and Quadratic Functions 1).  The series also includes other titles, all the way up to Calculus 1. Most of the books are at the Algebra I (and up) level.

The idea in this series is to use REAL data, REAL issues, and to create REAL math problems to work out.  Connor is working through Linear Functions 2, and so far he has done a bunch of graphing and solving to figure out how to make GORP (trail mix) within certain specifications for someone who is diabetic.  He has created linear inequalities relating to investing in stock using three different scenarios (Nintendo & Sony, McDonald's & Burger King, Aeropostale & Abercrombie and  Fitch).  He has figured out price points to make money selling nuts.  He has graphed and solved equations for which car to rent on vacation (factoring in rental costs and miles per gallon).  And he has graphed out equations to determine whether someone should drive their own SUV or rent a car with better mileage for a trip to Orlando.  We still have three more problem sets to work through.

He LOVES this.  While he doesn't need to count carbs, nor is he ready to be renting a car, he is seeing the practical use of linear equations by working through these.  And the problems really, really make him think.  He is used to sitting down and pounding out his math pretty quickly.  The MIRL sections, with about 5 problems in total (write an equation or inequality, write another one, graph it, solve it mathematically) actually require him to think things through.  They aren't as clean and neat as most textbook examples.  It is fabulous.

Overall?  I have looked at Math Mammoth a number of times in the past, and now I am really sad that I didn't try it out before now.  I LOVE the Light Blue books (the grade level worktexts), and I think the MIRL set is absolutely marvelous.  It is easy for me to use, and I really love having it in electronic format.  I will be purchasing more of these, and Math Mammoth will be the spine of my elementary math program.

And you can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about various Math Mammoth products at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a number of free products from Math Mammoth.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.


Nikki said...

Wow! What a blessing! You did receive a lot of great products from Math Mammoth. Reading that you want to buy more from this company says a lot!

Kristenph said...

I just skimmed your review because I haven't written mine yet, but after reviewing MM last year I switched my younger son to it instead of Singapore. And we LOVED MIRL with my older son. We did the probability and statistics.

John and Brenden said...

I'm excited! I'm ready! ...but we're starting K next year. Knowing what you know and using what you have used, would you recommend I do anything formal in K to prepare my son to go into the light-blue series for the 1st grade!?

Tess said...

Did you know that this review is linked on the Math Mammoth Website Testimonial pages? Just in case you didn't already know that I had to post a comment after following the link :) We love Math Mammoth here. So glad I had the opportunity to review it for myself.