I want to preface my review of Math Mammoth’s Light Blue Series (4A & 4B) by saying how much I LOVE to research homeschool curriculum. Homeschooling today in 2015 is so awesome because of all the GREAT resources available. This truth cuts both ways, though. With so much out there, it can be difficult to find the curriclum that will work best with your child. I guess it’s a great problem to have!
When we started homeschooling, I chose Singapore’s Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics and continued with Singapores’s Primary Mathematics (U.S. Edition) for grades 1 through 3 for my oldest son. As a former public school math teacher, finding a good solid math curriculum was very important to me, and my son had great success with Singapore. The only reason I started looking at other curriculum’s is the simple fact that I am always researching……it’s a hobby. So, through that research, I came across Math Mammoth.
When I started looking at Math Mammoth, I did what I always do and searched blogs and homeschool forum posts for reviews of the program. What I found was that Math Mammoth was well liked by most. I also discovered something that I hadn’t even considered; many reviewers commented on how easy Math Mammoth is to teach compared to other programs because of its worktext set-up. A worktext is different than the traditional text book and workbook curriculums in that it combines the two into one. For example, Singapore Primary Mathematics includes a non-consumable Textbook (2 per grade), a consumable Workbook (2 per grade), and an optional Home Instructors Guide (2 per grade). Math Mammoth’s worktexts (2 per grade) include introductory material for the parent at the beginning of each chapter which gives an overview of the material to be covered in the chapter, general notes and helps for the teacher and several links to websites with free games to practice the concepts covered. Math Mammoth describes its worktexts like this:
“The student worktext contains in the text itself explanations of the concepts, and I’ve tried to create a text that is as self-explanatory as possible. Students will often be able to read and study through the lessons on their own. The parent can “get it” at the same time as the student, if they have not understood math concepts before.
Also, in the Introduction of each chapter I have included some general notes and helps for the teacher.
If you have previously used a scripted curriculum and are worried about your ability to teach with Math Mammoth, I would encourage you to try it out by purchasing one of the Blue Series topical books.” (Maria Miller, author of Math Mammoth)
Because I have 4 children I plan on homeschooling, I decided the worktext concept was something that might be great when trying to teach 4 children on different levels. Singapore was awesome, but it took time to study the Home Instructor’s Guide, work through the textbook and work through the workbook. Planning to teach one or two children is much different than teaching multiple. Finding curriclums that simplify the teaching process while still offering rich, thorough teaching is very important when you have a larger family.
After my research, I decided to order one of the topical books from Math Mammoth’s Blue Series to try out the program while finishing up Singapore Primary Mathematics (U.S. Edition) 3B. I chose Introduction to Fractions because I felt Singapore was weak in that area for 3rd grade. My son and I used most of that book as a supplement, and it gave us a good taste of how Math Mammoth is set-up. I liked the way the material was presented, and I liked the worktext concept. It was just what I needed to make the decision to use Math Mammoth 4A & 4B for 4th grade.
There are three ways to purchase the Math Mammoth Light Blue Series complete curriculum. You can purchase it as a download, a CD, or a printed copy. Because I wanted the option of using Math Mammoth with my younger children as well, I decided to get the dowloadable version. The copyright allows you to print the materials for any of YOUR students, not the students of another teacher. I chose the full set Grade 4 which includes part A and B worktexts, answer keys, tests, cumulative reviews, a worksheet maker, and Soft-Pak. The material was easy to download and I saved it in my Google Drive. To print, I chose to print at home on our high volume laser printer, a chapter at a time. I printed it out one-sided, placed it in a binder, and we use the back of the previous page as a place to show work or for me as the teacher to work additional examples. The worktexts do include color at times, but we have not had any problems with printing in black and white.
So lets talk math! As a former math teacher, I guess I’m a sort of snob when it comes to math instruction. I don’t just want my boys to know “how” to solve a problem, I want them to know the “why.” This is one of the reasons I love Math Mammoth. It is so much easier for a child to add and subtract fractions with different denominators when they truly grasp fractions on a conceptual level and “get” what it means to write equivalent fractions. Math Mammoth doesn’t just teach the “how” to do anything. It approaches concepts from many different angles and does a wonderful job of cementing those concepts so that children can apply what they’ve learned in problem solving situations. Maria Miller includes some “new” math ways for working the four operations, but she also includes the “old” ways. In my opinion, the new ways help a students understand why the old algorithms for the four operations work. My son worked problems both ways and picked the way that he liked best to solve the problems (he chose the traditional algorithms). But I am glad he worked through the newer approaches because now he really gets place value.
A must for me when considering any math program is how it approaches problem solving. Math is worthless if you can’t apply it to REAL life situations. Math Mammoth is full of wonderful real life problem solving situations scattered throughout each chapter. The student gets lots of practice applying the knowledge he’s learned and the teacher can use the problems to bridge the gap between math and life.
Another componant that I’ve really liked are the reviews at the end of each chapter and the tests. This helps me know what we need to reteach and helps me get a grade for record keeping. Also included in the program are cumulative reviews starting at Chapter 2. These are a great way to review previous concepts and to get more grades for record keeping.
My goal for my children is that they become life-long learners. I also want them to grow in their independence as they get older. Of course, I will always be there to help them when they get stuck, but knowing how to learn something on your own is an invaluable life skill. Math Mammoth is a great way to gently nudge a child in this direction. The worktexts are set up where there are teaching boxes with explanations and examples followed by practice problems. A child can very easily read through the teaching boxes and work through the practice problems. If they need help, the parent can step in and help the child work through whatever issues he or she is having. My son is gradually learning to work through the material himself. As he works, I monitor his progress and teach as needed.
We have had great success with the Math Mammoth Light Blue Series Level 4 this year and I plan to use Math Mammoth again for my soon to be 5th grader and my soon to be 1st grader next year. Math Mammoth offers several awesome discounted bundle deals on their website. My plan is to purchase the bundle that includes all levels, 1 through 7 (7A is ready now and 7B should be out late spring 2015). The whole set (1A through 7A) costs $162.50, which is a 33% discount. I like that math!
If you are wanting to learn more about Math Mammoth, visit the website!
In conclusion, Math Mammoth is a great curriculum that gets the job done. It’s affordable and easy to use. Maria Miller, its author, has a master’s degree in mathematics, and she wrote this program with the homeschooler in mind wanting to help parents who were struggling to teach math to their children.
I received a free copy of this curriculum in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions in this review are mine.