Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Math Mammoth Blue Series (Homeschool Crew Review)

We've been through several different Math curricula, and finally seem to have settled on one that works for Jude and Damien.  I like it's philosophy and approach to learning, but it doesn't necessarily present topics is as timely a manner as they might need.  I'm happy we had the opportunity to review the Blue Series from Math Mammoth and begin filling in these gaps using the U.S. Money, Measuring 1, and Clock worktext units.  They are available as both PDF downloads, which we received, and pre-printed booklets.  The PDFs can be printed multiple times for use in an individual family. I appreciate this because it meant both Jude and Damien could work with these.

Note: Math Mammoth is a Common-Core aligned program.  Honestly, I have mixed feelings on the philosophy of it, but I do periodically refer back to the standards to make sure that the boys have met expectations.  I like these single-topic programs because they do help me see where any gaps may be, especially since we use a task-level, not grade-level program for our usual Math lessons.

After I had downloaded the PDFs, I started printing.  We were planning to work on the programs from start to finish, but I appreciated the detailed Table of Contents and Introduction.  If I was looking for a small unit geared to a specific grade, I could use these to avoid printing the entire book at one time. During the review period, we completed the Money unit, and have gotten about a third of the way through Measuring 1. These are for students in grades 1 through 3.  Jude's math learning is a bit uneven, and I know there are some gaps to fill in, so I wasn't concerned with him being above (a fifth-ish grade level).  Damien is just starting second grade (we work year round in our homeschool), so he's middle-ish of the intended age bracket.


While we had three programs to choose from, I decided that the most immediately useful one for us would be the unit on Money.  I printed this in its entirety for each student. When we first were chosen, Damien had zero experience with money, and Jude had a decent grasp on bills and the idea of counting coins, but still struggled with identifying coins accurately.   The program begins with identifying and counting coins and then segues into computing purchases and change.  We generally worked on one lesson each day and completed the 18-lesson worktext in about a month.  For this book, I would highly recommend printing in full color, because it makes it easier to identify the coins in the book.

Jude needed help at first identifying coins.  By the end, though, he was a pro, even successfully counting in half dollars.  I feel like by now he's got a good handle on counting money, especially being able to identify nickels and dimes -- forever his nemesis.  Pennies are a different color, and quarters are large -- plus they have his two favorite presidents on the front.  They've always been easier for him, but nickels and dimes have been a struggle.  By now, I can plunk a fistful of change in front of him and say, "Hey, can you count this for me!" and he's accurate.

Damien (second-ish) was faster to catch on, but he is younger. He struggled with some of the need to "think quickly and change gears" that comes with counting money, and then with the vocabulary of money -- total, change, etc.  There were some areas where Jude was able to work faster because he was older and had more practice in an area.  A child needs to be able to skip count by 5s (nickels) and 10s (dimes) at the very beginning, and the lessons quickly add in skip-counting with quarters and half dollars.  At first, Damien was slow, and instead of counting 25-50-75, etc., he would have to add quarters in the margin.  With enough practice, he was able to memorize how to "count by quarters" and pick up speed, but it was a little slower going at the start.

 The coins are a good size and easy to identify.  Our only real complaint is the coins only showed one face; for the nickel it was the "tails" side. While most nickels do have Monticello on the back, Damien found several nickels in the "laundry change" bucket that had depictions from the Lewis and Clark expedition.  He was completely clueless on what these coins were.  I appreciate the quarters all had George Washington on the front -- even though the Mint has issued State and Presidential Quarters series, George has been a constant.  Since there are different backs, I would have liked to see at least some nickels with the "heads" side of Jefferson.   (Also, I'd like to see images of FDR on the front of a dime - only the tails side was shown in illustrations, so when given a handful of dimes to count, he had to turn all of them over so he could identify them.)

The Introduction page of the worktext does sub-divide by grades; counting coins is a first-grade expectation, while the lessons beyond are appropriate for second and third-grade students.  If I were using this as a supplement to regular lessons, I would consider printing out just the topics that I was reviewing/introducing that were for my child's particular grade level. Truthfully, I'm not sure where on a "traditional" trajectory skip-counting comes in, but to be successful, skip counting and the ability to "change skips" (i.e., counting 10-20-30-35-40-41-42) is a must.  As we went further into the book, we also discovered that knowing how to borrow and double-borrow in subtraction were also required.  Damien caught onto these pretty quickly, and there are plenty of opportunities to practice this skill.  We appreciated the nice-sized squares for helping to accurately align columns.

And just to show there's always "one of those kids" -- who usually is mine -- who is extra literal.  This task required him to choose three things from the cafeteria, and he has such severe food allergies that he can only safely eat about ten foods, none of which were pictured.  He looked at them, then looked at me and said, "I can't do this problem because I can't have three things.  I can only have water, and I'm not that thirsty."  We finally settled on picking something for him and then choosing items for Mom and Dad. He decided on coffee and an apple, since he didn't think those were "our kinds" of bread or pizza, and there was no ingredient label on the soup.  Smart allergy kid!

Measuring 1

Again, this book is for students in grades 1 through 3.  The introduction again breaks the lessons by grade level.  Note: it does say that the lessons for this book come from the Math Mammoth Light Blue Series full curriculum, so if you're a Math Mammoth family needing extra practice with new problems, this might not be a good fit.  We're about a third of the way through this one, and enjoying it.  It is very hands on.

It begins by using objects to measure items, not a ruler.  It isn't concerned about precision measurement, but rather the relationship of "How big is this compared to that?"  At first, we started with measuring length with shoes.  Matthew got roped into this one -- or at least coerced to hand over his sneakers since we needed "big shoes" and "little shoes" (supplied by Damien).

Then we used paper clips to measure.  The directions said to measure small items, then something "more than four paper clips long." Jude was surprised that Slimer was four (large) paperclips big!  He borrowed Matthew's government textbook and found it was six paper clips long.  Whew.

The program it moves on to discussing volume -- small cups vs. larger, and their relationships to larger containers.  We used one of my favorite coffee cups.

Two boys and a pot of water are only for those who have dry socks waiting in the wings!

A post shared by mama2lmcjd (@mama2lmcjd) on

We've begun working farther into the program, measuring lines and shapes.  For the most part, a 6" ruler is sufficient, but there are some places where a 12" ruler is needed.  Since the boys are working at the same time, there is always a panicked search for the big ruler...and it's usually in the other brother's hand.  I spend most of that time passing it back and forth -- on my agenda is a second 12" ruler.   There is also some fraction work, adding halves.  Jude is working on fractions in his regular math program, so it's easy for him.  Damien has skipped over that part, for now.  It includes lessons in both English and Metric measurements.  I don't expect these will be too difficult for them because they are used to working in both.  While we may measure most things in inches and pounds, kids and tube feedings in our house are measured in centimeters and kilograms and milliliters, because that's how the hospital does it.


We haven't had an opportunity to work with this one yet.  I'm thinking we will probably wait until after Easter, if not until summer.  Again, this divides into grade level expectations, but also notes that the student can go from start to finish without too much trouble.  It begins with reading time to the half hour (grade 1), to the closest five minutes (grade 2), and to the exact minute (grade 3).

Overall, I'm very pleased with these programs from Math Mammoth and would recommend them.  I'm actually looking into purchasing the Division 1 and 2 worktexts for Jude. He has the concepts of division down well but could use some practice in mechanics (lining up columns, turning word problems into number problems, etc.) I also think it would be appropriate for review or additional practice for a public/private school student. I'm definitely going to be checking out the other Crew reviews of Math Mammoth's Blue series, and hope you will too.

Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth Reviews}

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