Math Mammoth offers a complete math curriculum for first grade through seventh-grade pre-algebra, as well as options for remediation on specific topics. It streamlines math teaching more than any other curriculum I’ve seen. All of the instruction and practice is contained in one easy-to-use “worktext,” a combination textbook and workbook that guides students step-by-step through each math concept. There is no additional teacher’s guide, as the worktext includes all of the teaching. Students write directly in the worktext as they solve problems. Word problems, cumulative review, and mental math practice are also included.
Conceptual Understanding in Math Mammoth
Like RightStart and Singapore Math, Math Mammoth is also very strong in teaching children to understand math concepts and not just memorize procedures. It is a mastery-oriented program, so each concept is thoroughly developed before moving on to the next concept. The worktext breaks concepts into chunks and then gradually leads children through each part until they understand the whole idea. For example, when learning multi-digit subtraction, the process of regrouping is taught first, so that children are very comfortable with the concept of regrouping before they begin to apply it to subtraction problems.
Visual Representations in Math Mammoth
To help children develop understanding, Math Mammoth frequently uses pictures and diagrams, including ten-frames, pictures of base-ten blocks, and number lines. The author describes these pictures as what she would draw on the board if she were teaching the material live to a class of students. These visual representations are also used to teach mental math. There is a lot of emphasis on developing kids’ number sense and mental math skills, with frequent practice included throughout the lessons. Math fact drill is also included in the lessons, although the author explains that most students need oral drill as well.
Is Math Mammoth really “self-teaching?”
Because all of the instruction is included in the worktext, Math Mammoth advertises itself as “practically self-teaching” with “only a little teacher involvement needed.” This is terrific marketing—as I said above, Maria Miller sure knows what busy parents are looking for when it comes to math curriculum! But unless you have an extremely diligent, responsible older child, do not expect that your child will be able to use Math Mammoth completely independently. The vast majority of children need to be able to talk through concepts, ask questions, and know that their parent is invested in their math learning. Plus, it’s very easy for children to rush through an assignment without reading the explanation or thoroughly examining the visual models presented in the lesson. They may get the answers right–but not actually understand the material.
Teaching Guidance for Parents
Math Mammoth’s greatest drawback is that it provides very little guidance for parents. There are no lesson plans or teaching notes provided. Having all the instruction contained in the worktext is great as long as the method presented in the worktext makes sense to the student. But, when a student is struggling, the book doesn’t provide much help.
Each chapter opens with a chapter overview for parents, along with a list of links for games and worksheets for further practice, but they don’t address alternate teaching strategies or ways to present the material. If your child hits a wall in Math Mammoth, be prepared to slow down, print some supplementary worksheets, and do a little research on other ways to present the concept. The author has some good videos and explanations on her website, but you’ll need to dig around a bit to find the help you need. (You might also want to take a look at my articles on how to teach a math lesson and how to make the most of independent math curriculum for ideas on how to plan your Math Mammoth lessons.)
Manipulatives in Math Mammoth
Many children, especially young ones, learn best when they use some hands-on manipulatives . The author recommends using a 100-bead abacus for the younger grades, as well as some basic measuring equipment (like a ruler and scale) for measurement chapters. Other than that, she feels that the visuals in the worktext are sufficient for children to understand the concepts. This is true for some children, but if you feel like your child is having trouble with Math Mammoth, add some concrete manipulatives to make the lessons more hands-on and tactile. (You can learn how to create your own free math manipulative kit here.)
How much time does Math Mammoth take?
Math Mammoth is an excellent choice if you don’t have a lot of time for hands-on teaching. Five to ten minutes of direct instruction is enough for many lessons, and some may require even less. Parents report that their older children usually finish their assignment each day in 30-40 minutes, but of course this varies a lot depending on the child.
What type of learner thrives with Math Mammoth?
Math Mammoth is perfect for a child who likes to do worksheets and doesn’t need a lot of hands-on activities. (You can always add hands-on activities or games to Math Mammoth, but these aren’t included in the program.)
Also, the worktexts are complete and functional, but they are quite busy, with a mishmash of colors and formats. This won’t matter for most children, but Math Mammoth may not be best for a child who needs simple, uncluttered pages.
How much does Math Mammoth cost?
Math Mammoth is very budget-friendly, but how much you spend depends on which format you buy. You can currently buy the entire curriculum (grades 1-7) on CD for only $150 at Rainbow Resource. You’ll have to add printing costs to that, but once you own the CD, you’re able to print as many copies as you need for your own family. This is an incredible value, especially for a large family. The printed books are also very affordable, at about $25 per year. Check out my Math Mammoth Buying Guide for more details on how to purchase.
Math Mammoth is a budget-friendly curriculum that develops thorough conceptual understanding and number sense with a minimum of hands-on teaching time. As long as you stay involved in your child’s math learning and are ready to jump in when necessary, Math Mammoth is a great choice for busy families.
Check out my Math Mammoth Buying Guide and FAQ for more details on Math Mammoth.
My curriculum disclaimer: You know your children far better than I do! Please take my advice with a grain of salt and use the samples to decide whether the curriculum is a good fit for you and your child. This review is my honest opinion–I am not affiliated with Math Mammoth in any way and don’t make any money off of any purchase you make.
Updated April 2016