Thursday, February 4, 2010

Math Mammoth

The people of Math Mammoth were kind enough to offer to me my choice of curriculum to review. The were even kind enough to help me decide which book I should choose for my son. I decided to choose something for my 7 year old for a couple of reasons. First, my 11 year old has fought any attempt at learning math for the past 5 years. We have finally settled into a routine with minimal argument. I did not want to mess with that. Second, my 7 year old first grader is moving so quickly through his math that I cannot keep up. He was nearly finished with his 2nd grade book. The only thing we had not touched on was subtraction with borrowing. That's a long explanation to say that I finally decided to review Math Mammoth's Third Grade curriculum. This is a full and complete program.

It was interesting to get a math curriculum in e-format, but I really like it. I like to put all the boys' work into a 3-ring binder along with field trip materials, photos, certificates to make a kind of scrapbook of their year. I'll post about that another time. My point is that the e-format is much easier to add to their book than ripping pages from a workbook. I decided to print it one chapter at a time. That allows me the flexibility to change my mind in the middle of the school year (as I often do) without having printed a whole bunch of extra papers.

Now, to talk about the meat of the curriculum. It is difficult to really say if the program works or not in the short time I had to review it. I think I will post an update as we get farther into the book. For now, I will post my initial observations of Chapter 1. This chapter focuses on addition. Remember, my son is way ahead and has no trouble in math. Math Mammoth really focuses on mental math (doing the problems in your head). My son was getting very overwhelmed by this and would refuse to do the problems, saying he didn't know the answers. Just to clarify, he totally knew the answers and was just getting frustrated by the layout, having to do the problems mentally, and having so many problems on one page. Today, I decided to try something. I took all the two-digit numbers that he was supposed to add mentally and wrote them vertically so that he could add them on paper. He finished in 10 minutes. The other thing that seems odd to me is that there is not a lot of explanation of new topics. This is not a problem for me with this child, because his brain works the same way mine does. I can easily explain anything to him and he understands exactly what I am saying. That being said, I can make this curriculum work with him no problem. However, my older son would not be able to use this curriculum at all. He would get too overwhelmed by the layout.

Of course, you have to consider that no curriculum is a one size fits all children. It all depends on the child's learning style, your teaching style, and how much patience you have as a teacher. Math Mammoth does offer four different series of products available depending on what you're looking for.

  • I reviewed the third grade curriculum from the Light Blue Series. This series contains full curriculum choices for grades 1 - 5. Grade 3 is broken into two books. You can download the set for $29.70. It is also available in hard copy if you prefer. They have placement tests available here to help you decide which level you need.

  • There is also the Blue Series, which is worktexts by topic for grades 1 - 5. This is useful if you just need a supplement of one area, like multiplication for example. Prices range between $2 and $7 per book.

  • The Golden Series is worksheets by grade for grades 3 - 8. It does not teach the topics, but is just for supplemental practice.

  • Finally, the Green Series is worksheets by topic for grades 3 - 7. Like the Golden Series, it is for supplemental practice only.

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