Math Mammoth’s Blue Series: Review

 photo logo_zps1488a12d.jpg
During my first official year of homeschooling for 1st grade I had curriculum overload. If you’ve never experienced this it is the inevitable phenomenon newbies face when their homeschool research begins. I have been told this usually occurs at the beginning either by way of the internet or a homeschool convention. Our journey began rather abruptly and I honestly didn’t have much time to research. I jumped in with both feet with only a few weeks notice and went with what our core curriculum suggested for math. This was fine until mid-year when it became clear our original math curriculum was not working. During my hours of research I found oodles of recommendations for Math Mammoth. Although this wasn’t the new curriculum I eventually chose I have always had it in the back of my mind, especially the Blue Series 

 photo lighblue_zps2ba8ce5b.jpg

There are two ways you can purchase Math Mammoth. You can go the traditional grade-level route with the Light Blue Series. Topics are covered in a mastery format with only a few topics per grade. Conceptual thinking is encouraged and mental math and number sense are encouraged. This complete curriculum covers grades 1-6

 photo blueseries_zpsb625de99.jpg

I was looking for something to act more as a supplement since the mental math and conceptual approach did not work so well for us the first time around with the original curriculum. The Blue Series has separate topics you can purchase and complete as you wish. These are intended to be used as supplement, remediation, or review. Since I am happy with our current curriculum I appreciate that this program has different options depending on your needs.

These are the four units we reviewed…

U.S. Money

I used this with both Rose and Beth. This is the first time I’ve taught them the same subject at the same time and they seemed to enjoy it. I wouldn’t want to do it on a regular basis because I want each of my girls to move at their own pace without feeling pressured. Beth took a little longer to finish her independent work because she is a slower writer, but both girls worked fabulously through the portion of money which we covered.

I like the flexibility and encouragement to  use real coins. While printed pictures are fine, using real money give practical, real-life application. Since the girls wanted something to remain in the box on the page we did coin rubbings as they practiced making the correct change. You can also study money from different countries including Canadian, European, British, and Australian. 
I really liked this unit for learning more about money. It was a nice change from what we normally do and gave the girls different types of practice counting money. While there wasn’t anything incredibly new or different to me in the approaches used to teach the concepts, they were simple and easy to impart to the girls.

Beth worked with the clock unit on her own since Rose has basically mastered telling time. I really liked the combination of drawing on clocks and writing time. The combination of the two seemed to cement some time concepts we have been working on this year, but didn’t quite settle in. I love the ability to pace this unit alongside our current curriculum to give her a more solid footing in this area. 
Measurement 1

This unit was one both girls worked on together as well. While we have covered length and lightly touched on measurement, we have not formally covered measurements with our curriculum yet. A topical study was a nice place to start. 
Rather than jump right into types of measuring the unit begins by having the kids measure anything they choose with two different size shoes. Although this was an interesting start to the unit, I disliked the method. I would have preferred this concept be taught later, after the idea of concrete units of measure had been covered. The girls did enjoy the measuring activity though! 
Multiplication 1

Rose has been pestering me for a few months to start learning multiplication. I told her the basic idea, but didn’t want to formally cover this area until I felt she had a firm grasp on higher addition. She was over-the-moon excited when I told her we would be starting multiplication before she reached it in our curriculum. 
Although I didn’t care for the conceptual start for measurement, I did like it for the beginning steps to learn multiplication. Understanding what multiplication means seems the most logical place to start. Although I think Rose already understood these concepts seeing her formally work through it on paper gave me assurance she knew what she was doing. She is so excited to work through this unit that she often asks to work further after our official school-time is over. 

Teacher’s editions of math books are typically needed and sometimes I’ve wished there was a manual for the teacher’s book! This is not needed with Math Mammoth. There were several times when I really felt I could have let my girls learn many of these concepts on their own. This is a very user-friendly curriculum for both teacher and student.

To read more reviews about Math Mammoth including the other curricula offered click below! 

 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif


Math Rider: Review

 photo mathriderlogo_zps7d664106.jpg

When I was in school math wasn’t my best subject. I always just felt like I just wasn’t very good at it even though I didn’t know exactly why. Looking back on it, I wonder if perhaps it was a lack of math fact mastery. I recently found out our state is attempting to pass a law that requires students to master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division math facts. Now, I have no idea why this isn’t already required, but if this was the case when I was in grade school it would make sense that math would be more difficult if I never mastered the facts initially.

 photo mathrider-product-box-v5-200x209_zpsf141caec.jpg

Math Rider is far and away the best program I have seen for math fact retention. It is fun, it is quick, and it works! I honestly feel the $47 is well worth the price. I have been recommending this to everyone who tells me their children are struggling with math facts. This single program covers multiple levels which can be adjusted to individual users as well as all four math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division).  Math Rider is intended for ages 6-12 (2nd-6th grade) but it is a good program for any age who has good basic understanding of addition concepts.

The game is set up so students can practice their facts in practice runs. When practicing the facts they may speed up or slow down as they need to according to their ability. I love that the game automatically adjusts to their speed. It also is not one bit discouraging when they miss a fact. Students have a certain amount of time to find the correct answer before the entire fact is simply read aloud. The same fact is then quickly introduced again so they can have an opportunity to answer correctly thus quickly building mastery. Students can also complete quests. These quests give them a goal to get medicine, find things, help the princess, and return objects to their lost land. The graphics and music are engaging and keep kids interested.

 One of the best features allows me to see what facts my girls have mastered, almost have mastered, and don’t know at all. The chart is easy to read and the students’ biggest challenges are listed to the side. A sliding bar shows mastery level at a quick glance and another chart shows how much improvement has been made. This is available for each operation studied. I couldn’t think of anything else I would add to this and ti has proved extremely helpful for me as their teacher.

I used this with Rose (7) and Beth (5). Rose felt like she struggled with math. In reality, she understands the concepts, but recalling math facts quickly has been a frustration for her. When she did speed drills as part of her study she would get the answers correct, but not be able to finish them all in the amount of time allotted. I see the value of speed drills, but encouraged her that even if it took her longer to recall a fact the important thing was that she knew it. Even so she still felt frustration at not being able to finish her speed drills.

After just a few week of using Math Rider Rose consistently finishes her math fact drills early. That’s right! She moved from consistently having 4-5 out of 20 not done in the 60 second time limit to getting them all done correctly with 5-10 seconds left. I can’t tell you what this has done for her confidence.

Beth is only in Kindergarten, but she excels in math and has moved on to the 1st grade curriculum including starting working math facts. I didn’t have to actually teach the concept of addition. She just knew it (I assume from listening in on her older sister’s lessons).

Moving forward into adding three numbers was a breeze due in no small part to Math Rider. I never taught her this concept either (gasp!). She started working on her lessons while I was finishing up the morning chores. The next thing I knew she was adding three numbers without any explanation needed.

Math rider has blessed both my girl immensely. The game was created by a family who was looking for help with their own kids. They did a great job! I intended for them to use it a few times a week, but this has turned into a daily activity, because they beg to play it! They frequently ask to play this game when it isn’t even school time. Are you kidding? Math for fun? Now you know why I can’t say enough good things!

Don’t forget to check out the other reviews from my Crewmates!


 photo DisclaimerGraphic1_zpsf612f371.gif