Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Review of Math Mammoth

Perhaps you've experienced the following scenario. You are correcting your child's latest math assignment when you have a startling discovery. While it appears that the new concept is understood, not applying previous material correctly is causing your child to get too many problems wrong. It may be a concept from years earlier that your child never mastered, or perhaps just forgot, or one that was not covered in depth. Either way, a sudden realization surfaces that you must go back to the basics or review. Your child needs extra work on a particular topic right now in order to continue. You are ready with your shovel to fill in that hole, but you need to find some mathematical dirt....quickly.

Maria Miller, author of Math Mammoth, has the answer for all you shovel-holding, math-teaching parents and tutors. A math teacher and tutor turned homeschooler, Maria Miller noticed that often homeschooling moms struggle with teaching math. Through her tutoring experiences, she developed a desire to help struggling math teachers do a more effective job teaching their students. It was her hope to improve elementary math teaching to include more mathematical understanding rather than rule memorization. Furthermore, she had a goal to do all of this in an affordable, self-teaching and mastery-focused manner. Large goals, but I do believe she's met them.

Math Mammoth has a full line of products for grades 1-8 to fill just about any need, whether it be a full curriculum, supplemental, or remedial resources. All products come in an easily downloaded format, perfect for those who are wanting to get started right away. There are several different series and collections available.

The Blue Series, Grades 1-5

Each worktext, containing both explanations and problems, in this series concentrates on only a few topics with varied problems for full understanding. The focus is on learning a particular topic; some of the books in this series cover several grade levels of material. This series is an excellent choice for remedial or supplemental work. Depending on the selected topic, cost for an ebook format is a very affordable $2-5.

The Lightblue Series, Grades 1-5

The Lightblue Series is a complete curriculum. The two worktexts (A & B) include answer keys, tests, cumulative reviews and an additional worksheet maker. Each grade level has limited topics, going deep rather than broad, and a longer time is spent on one topic for better learning. There is little prep work for the teacher. Children who can read will be able to self-teach with the clear explanations, including visual and puzzle exercises. The Blue and Lightblue series are essentially the same material, just organized and packaged differently. Each downloadable worktext is available for $15.50, or you can purchase both A & B worktexts for $29.70.

The Golden Series, Grades 3-8

This series is a collection of 120-150 worksheets for each grade for review and supplementation, starting with grade 3 and going through Algebra 1. The Golden series has problems only; concept explanations are not included. One topic per page is covered with variable problems for practice and understanding. Grade levels are available in two parts (A & B) with their corresponding answer keys available separately. Each part (A or B) is available for $6-9 and answer keys for $2. Complete packages are available for $12-14.

The Green Series, Grades 3-7

This series is similar to the Blue Series in structure and is organized by the topic. The worksheet collections may span several grades, making this series great for a comprehensive review and supplement of a particular topic. One topic per page is presented with variable problems, including word problems. The worksheets in this series are the same as those in the Golden Series, just arranged by topic rather than grade. Prices range from $2.50-9.

Each series is also available in printed format, CD and in various packages and pricing structures. Purchase of certain packages also includes bonus Soft-Pac software.

If you are unsure of what grade level you need, Maria Miller is willing to consult parents on what might be a good option for your child. There are also placement tests available for the Lightblue series.

Since my kids are already settled in with a main math curriculum, I selected supplementary titles for review. I received four different titles, Place Value 4 and Geometry 1 from the Blue Series for my son and Fractions and Ratio, Proportion & Percents from the Green Series for my daughter. At first, all I saw were a bunch of worksheets and wondered how they differed from any other worksheet. I fully expected my kids to approach doing math from more worksheets with their eyes-crossed. My son is great at math conceptually, but hates to write and often attempts mental math beyond his capability to do so. My daughter is convinced she stinks at math. Though she was an advanced math student in the early years, she's been in a holding pattern for a few years while both her development and attitude are ready for progression. I consider neither to have a preference for worksheets.

I was very pleasantly surprised with how my kids took to Math Mammoth. My son is a little weak in place value yet was able to work through the worktext pretty much on his own. I used this as a supplement to his regular math program, which covered the same material but not as in depth, and usually had him do 2 pages in a sitting. The explanations were thorough and the problems incremental enough that he was fairly independent through-out the whole book. He's recently started the Geometry 1 and I can tell he is really going to enjoy this title since it is hands-on learning through drawing. The real shock took place with my math-phobic daughter. She actually liked doing the worksheets. While the Green series does not have much explanation, the problems built on each other in such a way she easily (re)learned the material. She also liked that there was just one book, not a separate text and workbook or problems to be copied to paper. For my daughter, Math Mammoth was an excellent tool for reviewing material and developing mastery. For two different kids with different learning styles and needs, Math Mammoth was a winner.

Also to my surprise was that I liked the ebook format. At first I thought it would be a drag to have to print everything. Unlike other ebook products, you obviously have to print worksheets to use them. However, you need only print what you need. Another benefit is that you have Math Mammoth's permission to print as many copies needed for your whole family. When younger siblings move into the material, your only additional cost is for printing. The immediate delivery is a definite plus, especially when you are in a panic over the results of your child's latest math assignment.

While there is much to be liked, there are two areas worth mentioning that may cause problems for some. For younger kids who still have large writing, there may not be enough space on the worksheet. I thought his might be an issue for my son, who is still working on pencil control, but it was easily eliminated. I printed the worktext in batches and placed the copies in a 3-ring binder. Whenever he needed extra space, he just used the available space on the backside of the previous page in the binder. The other issue is that I found more errors than I would care to see in the answer key and a couple in the actual text of one title in particular. If the answer appeared to be wrong based on the answer key, I was sure to work the problem myself before marking it incorrect. Having a math background, this wasn't much of an issue for me but may cause those weak in math some stress. Being this is a digital product, I do expect the author will be able to quickly revise any errors that are brought to her attention.

Overall, Math Mammoth is an excellent product at an affordable price. The approach and explanations are clear, easily understood and thorough. The next time I have a mathematical hole to fill, Math Mammoth will be a definite source to stick my teaching shovel in.

Be sure to check out the Math Mammoth website for more information and pricing options. Products are available in several formats from various sources. You can also sign up at the website for Maria's Math Teaching Emails and Newsletter and receive 280 worksheets and teaching article for free. Her Homeschool Math blog and her website also have a ton of resources for you to "dig in".

See what other Crew members thought of Math Mammoth as a supplemental source or a complete curriculum by visiting the Official TOS Crew blog.

1 comment:

Kristenph said...

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