Friday, November 11, 2011

Review: Math Mammoth

We were recently given the opportunity to review the Math Mammoth program.  I was pretty excited to try it out.  While we're pretty happy with out math program in general, I always like to see what else is out there.  I have another one who'll be ready for formal math one day and who knows what will work for her.

About Math Mammoth

Math Mammoth offers many different options of worktexts.

    *A full curriculum for grades 1-6 Light Blue Series
    *Worktexts by topic for grades 1-6 Blue Series
    *Worksheets by topic for grades 3-7 Green Series (no instruction)
    *Worksheets by grade for grades 3-8 Golden Series (no instruction)
    *Make It Real Workbooks (teach how math is used in real life) for grades 3-12

From the Creator:

Math Mammoth offers affordable, yet quality math worktexts and workbooks for grades 1-8, available as both downloads and printed books. These books concentrate on conceptual understanding and are strong in mental math. The directions in the worktexts are written directly to the student, and are often self-teaching, thus requiring little preparation and involvement from the teacher.

My aim is to help parents and teachers teach math so our children and students can really understand what is going on. I've striven to explain the concepts so that both the teacher and the student can "get it" by reading the explanations in the books. In essence, the books often become self-teaching for student. The worktext form also requires very little preparation from the teacher.

Our Experience

There were so many choices of texts that it was almost overwhelming.  One of the best things about Math Mammoth is their customer service from the creator, Maria Miller.  She will very patiently discuss with you where your child is at and help you select the materials that are right for your child's needs.  In the end, we decided to go with the Light Blue Series for fifth grade.  I was tempted by some of those Make It Real options but I really wanted to see what the main curriculum was like. So we ditched our regular math and jumped right in.

Our experience was a bit like a roller coaster.  They were a lot of things that I liked about it and other things that were just confusing.  There was no way that my daughter could have worked through the text independently.  Some of the phrasing was confusing and she really needs to know a lot of the "why" behind the method.  That's one of her quirks.

One of the great things about Math Mammoth is the stress they put on mental math.  I think this is so important, especially with the importance given to calculators these days. I liked that they offered a lot of little tricks to help the student master mental math.  I particularly loved the tips for multiplying 9 times a number and 11 times a number.   Very cool!

Another thing that I like about the program is that it stresses mastery.  I am not a huge fan of the spiral approach.  I'm definitely more of a mastery proponent with a lot of review.  Math Mammoth really fits the bill in that area.

As I said before, some of the phrasing in the instruction was a little confusing to my daughter and myself.  I think part of the issue for us was that we jumped in at the fifth grade level.  I have a feeling that if we had started with the program early on that a lot of these instances would have been eliminated.  Other times, I think knowing more about why they were using a certain method would have been helpful in clearing up a few things for me.  (Uh-oh!  I think I just figured out where my daughter inherited that quirk I mentioned earlier.)

The one thing that I really did not like about the program was the answer key.  It just contains the answers.  The final answer.  Without showing how they solved the problem.  As we were confused with some of the instruction, seeing how they solved the problems was necessary for us.  And the layout of the answer key was hard to read.  It wasn't lined up the same way as the worktext so I spent a lot of time searching for where the answer was located.  

Final Thoughts

I do not think that Math Mammoth is the right program for my particular fifth grader.  It is not taught in the way in which she learns best and it often frustrated her.  That being said, I think it's a pretty good program and I wouldn't hesitate to encourage someone to give it a try.  

I learned some pretty good tricks from our 5 weeks using the program and I'm anxious to see what other gems this level has hiding within it's pages.  I think it will be nice to have it on hand to supplement our main math program.  Our main program has a very different scope and sequence then most math programs so Math Mammoth will be nice to refer to when it comes time to fill in some gaps as our standardized testing approaches.  

In the future, I will definitely consider purchasing some of the worktexts on a topic by topic basis as supplements.  And I'm really interested in trying out the Make It Real texts in the near future.  They seem to have a "living math" feel to them and that's something that I'd like to incorporate more of into our schooling.  


Website: Math Mammoth
Grade Levels: 1-12 depending on series
Cost:  $5.00-$39.00

Click on the crew banner to read more reviews of Math Mammoth.  

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Math Mammoth for review purposes as part of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.  All opinions are my own.

1 comment:

April said...

I am definitely going to look into the Make it Real part of this program. I am always looking for ways to show my kids how math applies to everyday things. Thanks for sharing!


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