Math Mammoth offers a complete math curriculum for first grade through seventh-grade pre-algebra, plus 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, since 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 strong at 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 apply it to subtraction.
Visuals in Math Mammoth
To help children develop deep understanding, Math Mammoth frequently uses pictures and diagrams, like 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 visuals 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. Some math fact drill is included in the lessons, although the author explains that most students need extra drill as well. (And I agree!)
Is Math Mammoth really “self-teaching?”
Because all instruction is in the worktext, Math Mammoth advertises itself as “practically self-teaching” with “only a little teacher involvement needed.” This is terrific marketing—Maria Miller sure knows what busy parents are looking for when it comes to math curriculum!
But, I’ve personally used Math Mammoth with several of my tututoring students, and it is definitely NOT self-teaching. Unless you have an extremely diligent, responsible, and detail-oriented 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 without actually understanding the material, which leads to major problems down the road.
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 student learns well through reading and 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 an overview for parents, plus a list of links for games and worksheets for further practice. However, these notes don’t explain the math content or provide alternate ways to teach the material. If your child hits a wall in Math Mammoth, be prepared to slow down, print some supplementary worksheets, and do some 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.)
Hands-on teaching in Math Mammoth
Most children, especially young ones, learn math best when they use some hands-on manipulatives to make abstract math concepts more concrete. Math Mammoth 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, the author feels that the visuals in the worktext are sufficient for children to understand the concepts. This may be true for some children, but many will need more physical objects to manipulate in order to thrive in math. If your child has 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 on the lower end of the scale when it comes to parent-directed teaching time. 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 depending on the child.
What about kindergarten?
Math Mammoth begins in first grade. The author provides a suggested list of skills for children to learn during the kindergarten year, as well as a few activity suggestions.
If you’d like to use a formal program rather than making up your own activities, I recommend either Kindergarten Math with Confidence or Singapore Essential Math. Both cover these skills well and prepare children for the number skills in Math Mammoth’s first grade worktext. Plus, they’re inexpensive and don’t require you to invest in multi-year manipulative sets!
So, should I buy Math Mammoth or not?
Math Mammoth may be a great fit for you if:
- Your child thinks logically and likes math presented visually.
- Your child is comfortable with paper-and-pencil learning.
- Your child likes to work independently (or you’re willing to sit next to your child and guide her while she completes the worktext.)
- You’re willing to spend some time on research when your child struggles with a concept.
- Your child doesn’t need a ton of day-to-day review of math concepts. (Review is included at the end of each chapter, but not on a daily basis.)
Math Mammoth may not be the right choice if:
- You feel anxious about teaching math and want clear guidance and support.
- Your child struggles with fine-motor skills or doesn’t like to do a lot of writing.
- Your child needs clear, easy-to-understand workbook pages with consistent formatting. (Math Mammoth tends to have a mishmash of colors and formats.)
- Your child struggles with reading or understanding printed information.
- Your child learns best through hands-on activities or conversation.
- Your child needs lots of review for math concepts to stick well.
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. (Bear in mind that you’ll have to add printing costs, which can add up.) 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.
- Related: Math Mammoth Buying Guide and FAQ
If Math Mammoth isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t worry! There are many excellent homeschool math programs out there. Check out my curriculum page for reviews of my other favorite programs to help you find one that’s a good fit for your family.
This is my honest opinion of the program; I was not paid or compensated in any way for the review.
Updated May 2020. Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you buy an item through an affiliate link, I may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you.
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