Sunday, February 21, 2010

Math Mammoth - A Review

Product: Math Mammoth (Multiplication 1/Clock)

Price: $5.00/ $3.50

Author: Maria Miller

Where to buy:

Other products available:
Worktexts by topics (Blue Series)
Full curriculum (Light Blue Series)
Worksheets by grade (Golden Series)
Worksheets by topics (Green Series)

Brief Overview:
Multiplication: 2nd-3rd grade, concept, word problems and memorization system.

Clock: 1st-3rd grade, read the clock, elasped time and word problems.

In-Depth Look:

Maria Miller, a homeschooling mom, is the author of all of the Math Mammoth books. She offers very affordable math books that can be instantly downloaded. Her goal is to teach in a way that your student can really understand; the book should be basically self-teaching.

Maria has been doing this since 2003. And she feels confident enough to offer you A LOT of free worksheets to try out(280 pages).

For parents, she recommends the blue or light blue series. The golden and green series are intended to be used by parents or instructors knowledgeable enough in math to explain the concepts.

Maria Miller allowed the TOS Crew members to choose the products that we thought would be the best fit for our families. I chose "Multiplication 1" and "Clock" for my daughters. They already had some knowledge in these areas. But I felt that they could use a review in some areas and more in-depth study in other areas.

Multiplication 1:

The multiplication book is 100 pages and claims to help you master the times tables. According to the front cover, skills covered are Multiplication Concept, Multiplication on a Number Line, Order of Operations, Word Problems, Guide for Effective Oral Drilling, and Structured Study of the Multiplication Tables.

The workbook is designed to be self-explanatory, even perhaps self-teaching. It follows a step-by-step process, starting at the very beginning of the concept.

Part One describes the concept of multiplication and the order of operations. Part Two is about memorizing the times tables.

Part One starts with groups of the same size, moves on to arrays, then number lines (skip counting). This section uses pictures to help the student visualize the concept of groups and multiplying. Some include the pictures, in others, the child draws them. With some number lines, they are provided. In others, the child draws the "skips". It then demonstrates that it doesn't matter in which order the factors are and that multiplying by zero is always zero. This section uses visuals also. Word problems teach key words such as "each" and "all". Order of operations reminds us to always multiply before adding or subtracting. It also reminds us how helpful it can be to draw pictures about the word problems.

These word problems are more challenging than those in some workbooks. They require more than simply plugging some numbers in. It is a multi-step process. And it requires knowing the order of operation. Here is an example.

Grandpa worked six days to make wooden toys for his grandchildren. The first three days he made 4 toys each day, and the last three days he made 5 toys each day. How many toys did he make in total?
(Days when he made 4 toys x 4 toys) + (Days when he made 5 toys x 5 toys) =

Part Two is for memorizing the times tables. Maria Miller avoids memorizing the tables in order and goes for a more logical approach. Your child will learn the 2's and then the 4's (doubles of those in the 2's). Then 10's , which are easy. Then 5's. Next your child will memorize the 3's and then the 6's (doubles of the 3's). Up next, the 11's (some of which are very easy). Then the 9's, 7's, 8's and 12's (by this point, there is only one new fact to learn). So by starting with the easier ones, the child has less facts to learn by the time he gets to the harder ones. Neat concept, huh?

Maria gives several tips to help your child memorize. She offers a 5-step process for memorizing a times table. And she gives suggestions on structured oral drilling.

Then the workbook goes into the actual tables. Each number has its own lesson. Each lesson has the same basic structure.
Fill in the table.
Random drill practices.
Fill in the blanks.
Grid of times tables learned up to that point.
Some occasional word problems and puzzle corners.

There is also built-in review. The workbook also includes some helpful resources on the internet. They include some games and some multiplication visuals. An answer key is provided at the back of the book.

What did we think of it? I like Ms. Miller's approach. She starts from the ground floor and works her way up, assuming the student has no previous knowledge of the concept. The book uses visuals to illustrate the concept. It uses word problems to give it "real-world" meaning. The concept is described in several different ways. So if your child doesn't grasp it one way, chances are they will understand one of the other ones.

I like that my daughter was able to read the instructions and do the work on her own. She had very few questions. Since she has been exposed to multiplication for some time now, she found the beginning parts to be a bit redundant. But I figured the review wouldn't hurt her; and, this part of the lessons is necessary to a beginner.

I also like the times table grid and the order that the numbers are presented in. It makes it seem less daunting to start with the easier ones such as 5's and 10's and to be able to fill in a huge chunk of the grid before getting to the harder times tables.

I think this is a solid teaching resource. By following Ms. Miller's suggestions, most children should be able to master their times tables once and for all.


The Clock workbook is 58 pages. According to the front cover, skills covered are Telling the Time to the Half-Hour, Time to the Five-Minute Intervals, Time to the Minute, Elasped Time, Calendar, and Changing Time Units.

Maria Miller (a homeschool mom) designed this worktext especially for homeschooling parents. It contains the teaching and the exercises. The lessons are divided into three grade-levels. 1st grade - Reading the clock to the half-hour. 2nd grade - Reading the clock to the five-minute intervals. 3rd grade - Reading the clock to the minute. It is left up the parent's discretion as to when to teach these topics, based on your child's readiness.

Your child will need a practice clock, whether real or pretend, that allows him to turn the clock hands. We used the one on my daughter's wall, since it has a dial on the back that makes turning the hands simple.

Helpful resources on the internet are included. These are all free and may prove beneficial to your child.

The workbook starts with whole and half hours. It introduces just the hour hand first, to keep things simple. By only needing to focus on one hand and two choices (whole or half hour), my daughter figured this section out very quickly. Several pages are devoted to this concept. Your child will look at the clock faces and write out the time: two o'clock, half-past three, etc. She will also figure out elapsed times of a half-hour and a whole hour later.

Next comes the minutes and half hours. This section describes the 5 minute intervals. She will start using the minute hand and the practice clock in this section. She will do several "times" on the clock to observe how time passes and how the minute hand moves, according to the hour. This section includes writing time shorthand (3:20, 5:50, etc), more on the passing of time, and reading the clock faces in 5-minute intervals. Your child will get lots of practice in this section.

After this comes, AM and PM. It explains where the terms came from and what they mean. Your child will do several exercises to help him remember which is which. Exercises help him decide if it would be AM or PM when he wakes up, mom watches the evening news, it is nighttime, etc.

More work will be done on the 5-minute intervals and will add in the terms "past" and "till". He will continue practicing writing out the time and using the short way (10 past 8 = 8:10, 20 till 6=5:40, etc.). Then we add in the concept of quarter hours ("a quarter past", "a quarter till").

Lots of review is built in. And the book builds precept upon precept. My daughter progressed nicely using this method. I could see her confidence improving.

In the 3rd grade level, telling time to the minute is explained. The book gets harder as it goes along. The same methods are used to explain this section, including word problems for practice and elapsed times.

The calendar is also introduced (days, day numbers, and months). Lots of word problems give the student practice in navigating his way around a calendar. Examples are...
- Mary goes to a swimming club every Thursday. List here the May dates when Mary goes swimming.
-What day is three weeks after October 25th?
-A summer camp was scheduled to start on July 15th and run for 5 days, but was delayed by one week. When did it start? What was the last day of the camp?

The last section is on converting time units - minutes vs. hours, hours vs. days, days vs. weeks, weeks vs. months, and months vs. years.

The worktext ends with a review and answer key.

What did we think of it? I like the idea of introducing the half-hour and o'clock by using just the hour hand. This simplified it for my daughter and she caught on right away. She kept running to our clock to see what time it was. And was so excited when it happened to be either an o'clock or a half-past, because she could read it.

I like using a practice clock in addition to the clock faces in the workbook. It made it hands-on for my daughter and she liked seeing the clock hands turn. When she saw that the minute hand circles around once for every hour, she was surprised. In her words, "I didn't know it did that." It was an AHA moment.

Like the old saying goes, "The proof is in the pudding". And in this pudding, my daughter is telling time.

One suggestion for the publisher. When the child is writing out the time long-hand, the answer boxes should be much bigger. There was NO WAY my daughter could fit the answer into the boxes. She was frustrated by this and had to squish the answers in wherever possible...under the box, into the next box, etc.

Other comments:
The prices are awesome. They are just as inexpensive as the little workbooks at the department store. Yet, as downloads, they are so much more useful. If I lose the worksheets, I can print them again. If my child really messes up, I can print it again. Need more practice? Print it again. Have more children? Print it again.

For proficient readers, the worktexts should be self-teaching for the most part. This is a big bonus for those parents teaching multi-grades.

The choices are numerous, providing both full curriculums and in-depth studies on individual topics. To see all the choices, look here. For placement tests, try here.

To read the reviews of other crew members, have a look here.

Disclaimer: I received these math worktexts free of charge to review, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The above is just my opinion. Please remember that opinions may, and do, vary.

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