Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Math U See Primer

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My littlest one, Hailey, has been asking to do math for a few months. She loves doing school work and wants to do math like her siblings. I was so excited to review Math U See. Since Hailey is working and reading at a kindergarten level, we opted to review the Primer level.

Math U See was created by Steve Demme. Mr. Demme, a successful math teacher, began teaching a homeschool coop class and the parents loved what they saw. The started asking for the materials Mr. Demme was using in class for their own use at home. Math U See was created and has since stacked up quite an impressive amount of awards!

Math U See is a comprehensive, mastery based math curriculum. It uses a step-by-step method of teaching. Concepts are introduced, reviewed, practiced, and mastered in a logical sequence. Students are able to see the concept in action using the instructional DVD. Then, the students are able to practice the concept, hands-on with the blocks.

For our review, we received:
1) Primer Instructional Pack (sells for $31.00) This pack includes the instructional manual with lesson instruction and answer keys as well as the instructional DVD.
2) Primer Student Workbook (sells for $22.00) The workbook is black and white, perforated pages and is consumable.
3) 2 sets of Manipulative Blocks (sells for  $38.00 each) Each set includes 88 blocks of colorful base 10 blocks. Math U See recommends purchasing 2 sets so that students can have 10 of each block for larger projects. 

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The Review:
I began this review period by reading through the lesson in the instructional manual and then watching the DVD lesson prior to having Hailey watch it. Then we would watch the lesson together and work through the lesson using the blocks and the workbook. I soon realized that at least at this level, I really didn't need to do the prep work. I am sure as the math lesson get harder way down the road, I may need to keep ahead. I am pretty sure that algebra is going to be a rude awakening for me someday. 

I chose Primer for my kindergartner because it is the first in the series. Although Math U See levels don't necessarily correspond to conventional grade levels. The Primer level starts off very slowly and I worried that Hailey might get bored. Whenever we had worked a certain concept, like count all the circles that have lines on them, we just skipped ahead when she showed mastery. One of the great things about Math U See is that there is enough review of concepts when you need them, but you can certainly skip ahead if you want. I really feel like math is the subject kids get extremely frustrated or extremely bored with very quickly. It is great to see a math curriculum that seems to understand this problem. Concepts are introduced in small, digestible lessons. At the Primer level, we were not spending more than 20 minutes from start to finish. It was just enough for her to learn without being overwhelmed or bored. 

I would recommend this curriculum to anyone looking for a mastery math curriculum. The line of Math U See levels goes all the way through Calculus. I like that there is the option to stick with the same publisher and therefore stay within the same scope and sequence from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Don't know where to start? Check out the placement tests.

What We Love:
1. The cost is very reasonable.
2. Mastery based, not easy to find
3. Goes all the way through high school, again, not easy to find
4. Engaging, hands-on without resorting to colorful graphics that can be distracting

What We Would Change:
The only thing I would change is to make the books, especially the workbooks, spiral bound. I like to keep the pages together and I really hate tearing pages out of books. You know how it goes, 5 pages come out perfect and then that 6th page get torn in half. We've even had workbooks that are spiral bound at the top before and that is very helpful too.

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