Math Mammoth offers a few different options, but the primary thing to know is that the Light Blue Series is a complete core curriculum for grades one through six (with a pre-algebra course for grade seven in development) while the Blue Series is supplemental. The Blue Series’ content is almost identical to that of the Light Blue Series, but it is arranged and sold in small, topical units rather than as grade-level texts—great for those who need to focus on a single topic like fractions.
Math Mammoth can be purchased in printed-book format, on CDs, or as downloadable files. Printed books are purchased through Lulu or Rainbow Resource Center on the internet. (Links are on the Math Mammoth web site.) Most users purchase the downloadable versions, probably because of both convenience and cost. The price for downloads is fantastic; and it is even better if you buy the bundle for Grade One through Grade Six. For those with downloading problems, all grade levels can be purchased on CD-ROMs. Keep in mind that you can print out the pages from either the download or the CD-ROM over and over again to be used with all children in your family.
The price alone is enough to cause you to sit up and take notice, but the content is also top notch. Some people have compared Math Mammoth with Singapore Math since both programs teach for mastery and understanding. Both explain concepts thoroughly, generally using visual illustrations to present new concepts. Also, both programs employ a number of different ways to explain new concepts so they can reach different learning styles. Math Mammoth adds occasional use of simple, inexpensive manipulatives such as a $10 abacus, ruler, measuring cup, and printable fraction manipulatives for Grade One through Grade Four. Grade Five introduces the calculator but teaches students to use it appropriately. Word problems and practical applications are used throughout the series so students gain a sense of how math might be used in real life.
While topics are presented in an order somewhat similar to most other programs, there are some purposeful differences. The scope and sequence is challenging, but not quite as much so as Singapore Math. For example, fractions are introduced at the end of Grade Three, and decimals in Grade Four. Both receive extensive attention in Grade Five. However, decimals are more thoroughly developed before the presentation of multiplication and division of fractions so that the concepts are intertwined in a very sensible fashion. By the first half of Grade Five, students are already prepared to solve problems such as (3,000 + 36)/(9 − 3)!
Grade Five introduces plotting number patterns in a coordinate grid—a precursor for the concept of linear functions. Even though some topics could be challenging, thorough explanations make it possible for even math-challenged students to be successful. Or you may skip some of these topics and save them for later.
Grade Six covers expressions and equations, ratios and rates, percents, decimals, factoring, fractions, positive and negative integers, coordinate graphs, geometry (area, surface area, and volume), interpreting charts and graphs, and statistics. Here is an example of the word problems at this level: “The life spans of Mr. Short and Mr. Long were in a ratio of 3:7. Mr. Long lived 44 years longer than Mr. Short. How long did Mr. Long live?” (From the lesson on ratio problems, Primary Math 6A).
Grade Seven is a complete pre-algebra course that has two student worktexts (A and B) rather than one. The course covers an introduction to algebra, integers and operations, one-step equations, work with positive and negative numbers, solving and graphing linear equations, the concept of slope, ratios, rates, percent, proportions, geometry concepts, probability, and statistics.
Most topics are taught for mastery although there is some “spiraling” where topics are taught first with some elements then revisited later with added elements. However, this is far different from Saxon’s spiral approach where topics are taught in small increments coupled with continual, extensive review of previously taught concepts. Math Mammoth generally concentrates on one topic at a time for a number of lessons.
If you want more practice and review of any topics, the download comes with links for generating hundreds (at least!) of worksheets by topic. Problems are randomly generated, so you can create a number of different worksheets for the same topic if needed.
At the beginning of each chapter, Math Mammoth books include many links to other sites on the Internet for math games, tools, activities, tutorials, and worksheets. While you can certainly copy the URLs from a printed book, the convenience of hyperlinks in digital editions makes them much more likely to be used.
Time, money, measurement, graphs, and other topics are included throughout the program. Grade One through Grade Three also include optional material about money in Canadian, British, Australian, South African, and European (Euro) currencies.
Author Maria Miller encourages parents to choose when to use the various sections rather than just plow straight through each book. This is really an amazing amount of material and resources for so reasonable a price.
The worktext format includes teaching information directly on the worksheets. Pages are produced in full color, but it is not too distracting. You might choose to print these out on a black-and-white printer, but I did spot at least one instance with a number line activity where color mattered. There might be other such instances, but you can always look at the lesson directly on the computer if you run into a problem. (The preprinted book I received for review has a color cover but is otherwise printed in black and white, so I assume that Math Mammoth views the color as optional.)
The worktexts are presented as PDF files, but they are enabled for annotation which means students can type directly onto the pages on the computer. While the computer does not correct or score the pages, students may print them out or save them. (Be sure to use a copy of your original files if you want to reuse them!)
There are some brief teaching notes at the beginning of each chapter that shouldn’t be skipped. Even using these notes, explanations on the worksheets might be too brief for some students, so a parent or teacher should probably be assisting as students tackle new concepts. Parents will likely need to be more involved with younger students than older. Once students have grasped concepts, they should be able to work independently.
The program features plenty of thought-provoking word problems. These problems, coupled with the other methods of lesson presentation, will certainly help students develop both conceptual understanding and critical thinking skills. However, some students might need help working through some of these problems. Author Maria Miller has also created a number of helpful YouTube teaching videos on specific topics that are available online for free.
Workbooks, tests, cumulative reviews, and answer keys are all included in the downloads or on the CD-ROMs. The Math Mammoth website offers free placement tests, free worksheets, and other helps.
The 2013 editions of this program meet and exceed the Common Core Standards, and you can see the alignment on Math Mammoth's website. However, the original versions of the books written prior to Common Core are also available as downloadable files or printed books. See the Math Mammoth FAQ page for information.
Math Mammoth is also available in Spanish, International, and South African versions.
In my opinion, Math Mammoth is an amazingly well-developed program for such a reasonable price. Math Mammoth has created a very high-quality product that can function as a traditional program while also taking advantage of the internet and the computer to enhance the courses with useful extras.