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Monday, December 29, 2008

Review: Math Mammoth

You know I love Math-U-See.

I use it for all three of the children I'm currently homeschooling.

I recommend it to anyone who asks, "What has worked for you?"

I've even given over the bulk of my math teaching duties to the very capable Mr. Demme, the man whose math program literally pulled me back from the brink of homeschooling insanity a few short years ago.

But can I tell you a secret? I have been cheating on Mr. Demme. I can't even tell you how shallow and fair-weather-friend I feel just typing that out. I have been cheating on Math-U-See!

Here's why: I've found that there are some areas where Math-U-See doesn't totally do the job for my kiddos. I love the program. Love the approach. Love the amount of practice ...

Wish there was a little more critical thinking involved.

Did I really say that?

Well, I did. Believe it or not, MG--dyed in the wool math phobe that she is--wants to make sure that her children get that well-rounded, critical thinking aspect of math down and down well. Really well. I also want a little more of those things that normally get lumped into elementary math skills: time, money, etc.

So I'm cheating on Math-U-See. But with what, you ask?

Math Mammoth.

I saw this program in the WinterPromise catalog a while back and was honestly completely baffled. First of all, it's called Math Mammoth. Say what? Aside from
The New Way Things Work illustrations, I have no clue what mammoths have to do with much of anything in the modern world, let alone teaching my children math. Second, what got me was the sheer out-of-the-blue of it. I'm not an early adopter when it comes to math programs, in case you haven't figured it out. No--I like tried and true. Because this is MATH we're talking about here, folks. It's not something willy nilly. It's MATH. (Now that I've gotten that bit of panic out of the way ...)

But get this--Math Mammoth works. It's child friendly. It's innovative. It's thought provoking. And really, the mammoths have naught to do with anything. It just ... sounds good, I guess.

The best way I can describe Math Mammoth's approach is to link it to programs I am fairly familiar with, so try this: this is Singapore for the rest of us--a down-to-earth curriculum that you can use a'la carte (as I am) by selecting topics and levels as needed, or go whole hog with by buying an entire package.

When I say Singapore for the rest of us, what I'm getting at is that Math Mammoth is so approachable, so easy to understand and so transferable to any other math program that really, a parent can pick up this program and go at any point without having to familiarize yourself with something that may feel slightly foreign in its execution. The best elements of Singapore--the art of math evident in puzzles and looking at problems from a variety of directions--is still very much intact. It's just easier to swallow, somehow.

For example, I've been using the Blue Series Clock book with Logan. It begins by utilizing just the hour hand. But before moving on to the minute hand, there are a series of problems to solve: if it's 2 p.m., what time is it an hour earlier? And hour later? This sounds like what you'd find in any math text but trust me, the approach is unique. Your child will see the clock and feel it move. This isn't your ordinary workbook!

Using a downloadable, fully reproducible format is an ingenious twist that puts Math Mammoth within the reach of every homeschooler--even those of us with four or ten kiddos who shudder at the thought of purchasing consumables ad nauseum. It also allows the teacher (that would be you) to pull out practice sheets with the click of a mouse on an as needed basis.

If you're curious about the program, check out the website. Continuing in the theme of being user-friendly, Maria Miller (the author) has even put together some freebies for you to sample:

A little "virtual" email course. You will receive:

  • The package of 280 free worksheets and sample pages;
  • 7 math teaching articles;
  • 2 emails discussing the books;
  • Homeschool Math newsletter.
No obligation, of course. Just resources to ponder.

I highly recommend checking out Math Mammoth. Just don't tell Mr. Demme, o.k.?

4 comments:

Kathy said...

We recently switched to Math Mammoth from MUS for the same reasons. Love it! Excellent review. I'm sending my friends with questions about Math Mammoth here.
Kathy @ www.restorationplace.typepad.com

Maria Miller said...

Thanks for such an enjoyable review! I had to comment on the name "Math Mammoth"; please read my post here.

Diane Allen said...

What a wonderful review! You have really captured the appeal of this terrific math program. I have also found that Mammoth Math offers the perfect transition curriculum to fill in those little gaps when moving from one curriculum to another.

Angela said...

Math Mammoth has been by far the most approachable math system for my family. I love the fact that Maria breaks it down to basic steps--it teaches math the correct way. This review is awesome..just had to delurk and let you know that. I look forward to reading more of your reviews.