Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Math Mammoth

Have you ever wondered about Math Mammoth? I know I have. On the different homeschooling forums I frequent, whenever people ask about quality math programs, Math Mammoth is mentioned as both a quality program and an affordable one. I know all the talk made me curious. So I was excited when I found out I would get to review one of their programs.

Maria Miller, the creator of Math Mammoth worked with each crew member who was reviewing her products individually. She helped us choose just the right program for the particular learner in our home. Apparently this is a regular practice of her, so I give two thumbs up right off the bat for excellent customer service. Maria chose for me both her full 2nd grade curriculum (Light Blue series), and also her multiplication book. I was delighted with her choices and printed out the full 2nd grade text that night!

A little background on how Math Mammoth works may help those of you who are unfamiliar with its' format. Maria has different "series" or kinds of work texts. They are downloadable, so you can print them as many times as you want or need and this also keeps the costs down for you. CD or printed copies are available for those who desire them. Maria has full curriculum sets which are listed by grade level. She also has individual work texts which cover a particular topic--for instance I received one book just on multiplication. These are helpful for students who are struggling in just one area and need extra practice. Check out her FAQs page for more information on how these items are sold and how the grade levels match up to the topics.

In terms of pricing, as I said, Math Mammoth is affordable. I received the full curriculum for 2nd grade, and this runs for $34.00. The multiplication book I received is $5.00. Maria does not actually sell her products on the Math Mammoth site, but you can purchase them on Currclick or Kagi or Lulu. Learn more about that here where she gives direct links to her stores on each site.

Here are my thoughts. Neither of my kiddos are workbook kiddos. Some kids are, and some parents or teachers are. And that's great. But my son can take 30 minutes to do just one Math Mammoth worksheet filled with old concepts for review. Since Kinder we have been using a very hands-on approach that is really teacher intensive and very oral. Math Mammoth is a different approach altogether. It's much more of a paper and pencil math curriculum that requires the student to write quite a bit. There is very little actual "teaching" going on in my opinion, or at least in the way I am used to teaching. Short explanations and lots of practice seemed to be what I observed when using this with Little Bean. That works for a lot of people. So I'm not saying Math Mammoth isn't a quality curriculum. I'm just saying that for us, it's a little to worksheet oriented.

As for how math is taught, Math Mammoth leaves room for teachers to introduce their own manipulatives and make it more of a hands-on approach, certainly. The worksheets are colorful and make use of visual models to help the student understand the concepts. I'm a bit of a manipulative snob though; I believe only certain ones are worth using. I believe that just having a picture of ten balls in rows of two isn't necessarily going to help the student understand what ten looks like. Or counting out beans or plastic bears when adding isn't much of an improvement from using nothing at all. So I guess for me, some of what I saw on the worksheets was visual, but not necessarily helpful to the student. I hope that makes sense.

So is Math Mammoth worth it? Well, that all depends on what you're looking for. Take the Math Mammoth tour so you can get samples of the workbooks and decide for yourself if this is something you want to invest in.

Please note: I received my copies of Math Mammoth for free in exchange for my honest review. I am not obligated to give a positive review.

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