Much of the math my children have done in the past was internet-based. This year we’re going back to a pencil and paper thanks to this review of Math Mammoth International Series (Light Blue Version), Grade 4, by Math Mammoth. It’s working well for us, and I’m going to tell you why.
What did we receive?
We received a zip file that contained PDFs of:
- a user guide
- the student worktexts (textbook and workbook combined)
- an answer key
- student tests
- cumulative revision worksheets for each chapter and an answer key
- links to make extra worksheets for each area of study
- fraction cut-outs
- a bonus Soft-Pak of extra math games for kids to do
- In addition to this, we also received access to the lesson plans through our Homeschool Planet subscription.
What are the topics?
- Addition, Subtraction, Patterns and Graphs
- Large Numbers and Place Value
- Multi-Digit Multiplication
- Time and Measuring
Things have changed since I was in school; topics are getting more in-depth much earlier than they used to (does this make me sound old?). However, Math Mammoth suggests that if your child picks things up easily, there’s no need to do all of the questions; and at the other end, if extra practice is needed to really understand a concept, then the worksheet generator will come in handy. Take things at your child’s pace – that’s the beauty of homeschool, isn’t it!
First off, I must say that the integration of Math Mammoth with Homeschool Planet is genius! This is the best thing ever for us! You simply choose your school days (4, 5, etc.) and when you would like to finish the lessons and the lessons will automatically be divided up for you. And the extra fun online games that enhance the mathematics learning are also filled in each day.
Personally, I know that without the combination of these two programs I would probably not be so fun as I’d forget to assign the games or figure out which ones to do when. So Tristan now has some fun to do after each of his paper and pencil lessons, and the variety of them gives his brain a workout figuring out how each is used.
I set Tristan up for a 5-day week; though I may change that to 4 days as there’s always something that tends to complicate our weeks; a trip to Belfast, a doctor’s appointment for chicken pox, etc. But this can easily be done.
In the morning Tristan knows that he can check Homeschool Planet to see what he needs to do that day, and when he’s finished, he just clicks on the box to turn it green. Easy-peasy and now he can’t argue with me about having too much work to do as I’m not the one setting the assignments 😉
How We Use Math Mammoth
Speaking of assignments, the programs generally sets Tristan up with 2 pages a day, plus a fun game. I can’t say quite how long it takes; some days when Tristan is motivated, he can finish in about 15-20 minutes. Other days it might take an hour or two. But really, about 30-40 minutes would probably be about right.
Initially, I printed out the whole of the first chapter to keep Tristan going. He took it with him to work on while he was with me at a meeting. It carried easily to the library as well. What I would love to have is one of those neat machines that would punch and coil bind the chapters or book together…but a hole punch and stapler work just fine, too!
There is also a second option available – students can answer the questions right on the PC screen! This would certainly be a fun option, but at the moment the printed version is working better for us. But I love that there are options!
The beginning of each chapter lays out what the student will learn, how many pages are associated with each sub-topic, as well as a list of internet resources for further examples, quizes, and interactive learning.
A little revision is done, then the lessons move on to new material. Tristan took the placement test so I knew which grade level was best for him; and this also gave me an idea of his strengths and weaknesses. As each program is different, moving from one to another will certainly see an area or two that hasn’t previously been covered. Tristan hasn’t yet worked up to that point in the worktexts, but when he does, we’ll pause and order the corresponding book in the Blue series to get him up to scratch before continuing on with the Light Blue series. This is also a nice option to have.
One of the reasons I’m happy to be using the paper version is that Tristan is now starting to do some more involved work that might take a couple of steps to do. This way he can ‘show his work’ and I can see where he’s gone wrong if an error as been made. It’s a good habit to get into and one I’d like for him to use.
I like the way the chapters flow, and how the new material is presented with easy to follow examples to get you off on the right foot. The topics aren’t so easy that Tristan’s bored, but they are also hard enough to stretch his brain and for him to learn new concepts. Looking ahead to the following chapters, Tristan will learn a lot before the end of the year; and I’m looking forward to seeing more of his ‘lightbulb’ moments.
The games for extra fun offer a lot of variety and keep Tristan interested most of the time. Some are easier to pick up than others. The links to these games are all external and not part of the Math Mammoth website, so children should have some adult supervision as it’s not guaranteed all links will still be live. So far, all links have worked for us. But as these are external links, keep in mind that some pages will also have pop ups and advertising (there’s an example in a screen shot above).
It’s nice to have a little ‘reward’ after some hard brain work, and these games do make good brain breaks at any time of the day, not necessarily after a math lesson.
USA & International Versions Available
The Light Blue Series is great because it also comes in an International version. With the International Series comes pre-sized to A4 paper (no more wonky pages printing out), it uses British spelling, it uses metric measurements. For grades 1-3 there’s a choice of USD, Euro, GBP, CDN, NZ, and South African currencies. The work is all the same, but the units and spelling are substituted. Unfortunately, grades 4-7 are only done in dollars.
So far, this program is going very well for Tristan. He’s learning new things, and I love to see his face light up when he ‘gets it.’ Reading through the text and sitting with him to work out how the sample problems are done makes me feel much more a part of his education, and it’s wonderful to feel like I’m needed. I know just what he’s learning, and I can help him along much easier than when using an internet-based program.
I’m looking forward to seeing Tristan learn and succeed this year, and Math Mammoth will be a part of it.
To read more reviews about Math Mammoth by the Homeschool Review Crew, click on the graphic below and follow the instructions. You will find 50 honest reviews by the Crew for the Blue and Light Blue series. If you’d like to know more or would like to follow Math Mammoth, you can connect with them through their website, Facebook, YouTube. and Google+.