Math Mammoth User Guide, Grade 1
The Light Blue Series

This document has the following sections:

Basic principles in using Math Mammoth Complete Curriculum
How to get started
Pacing the curriculum
Working space and the usage of additional paper
Using tests
Using cumulative reviews and the worksheet maker
Frequently asked questions
Contact the author


Basic principles in using Math Mammoth Complete Curriculum

Math Mammoth Complete Curriculum is not a scripted curriculum. In other words, it is not spelling out in exact detail what the teacher is to do or say in a specific lesson. Instead, Math Mammoth gives you, the teacher, various tools for teaching:


How to get started

Simply start out by printing the first lesson from the student worktext. Study the teaching part (within the blue boxes) together with your child. Go through a few of the exercises together, and then assign some problems for your child to do on their own. You can also let the child study the lesson completely on his own if you feel they are capable.


Pacing the curriculum

The lessons in Math Mammoth complete curriculum are NOT intended to be done in a single teaching session or class. Sometimes you might be able to go through a whole lesson in one day, but more often, the lesson itself might span 3-5 pages and take 2-3 days or classes to complete.

Therefore, it is not possible to say exactly how many pages a student needs to do in one day. This will vary. However, it is helpful to calculate a general guideline as to how many pages per week you should cover in the student worktext in order to go through the curriculum in one school year (or whatever span of time you want to allot to it).

The table below lists how many pages there are for the student to finish in this particular grade level, and gives you a guideline for how many pages per day to finish, assuming a 200-day school year.

Example:

Grade level Lesson
pages
Number of
school  days
Number of days
for tests
and reviews
Number of days
for studying
the student book
Pages to study
per day
Pages to study
per week
1-A*121 98 8 90 1.34 6.7
1-B126 102 8 94 1.34 6.7
Grade 1 total* 247 200 16 184 1.34 6.7

The table below is for you to fill in. First fill in how many days of school you intend to have. Also allow several days for tests and additional review before the test — at least twice the number of chapters in the curriculum. For example, if the particular grade has 8 chapters, allow at least 16 days for tests & additional review. Then, to get a count of “pages/day”, divide the number of pages by the number of available days. Then, multiply this number by 5 to get the approximate page count to cover in a week.

Grade level Lesson
pages
Number of
school  days
Number of days
for tests
and reviews
Number of days
for studying
the student book
Pages to study
per day
Pages to study
per week
1-A*121          
1-B126          
Grade 1 total* 247          

*This count excludes the 8 pages of Kindergarten review.
 

For comparison, here is a table for all the seven grades (the decimals are rounded):

Grade levelPage count Number of days
in school year
Number of days
for tests
and reviews
Pages to study
per day
Pages to study
per week
1st grade 247 200 16 1.3 6.7
2nd grade 287 200 20 1.6 8.0
3rd grade 321 200 20 1.8 8.9
4th grade 353 200 16 1.9 9.6
5th grade 372 200 16 2.0 10.1
6th grade 324 200 20 1.8 9.0
7th grade 422 200 20 2.3 11.7

Now, let's assume you determine that you need to study about 1.5 pages a day, or about 7.6 pages a week in order to get through the curriculum. As you study each lesson, keep in mind that sometimes most of the page might be filled with the blue teaching boxes, and very few exercises. You might be able to “cover” two full pages on such a day. Then some other day you might only assign one page of word problems. Also, you might be able to go through the pages quicker in some chapters, for example when studying the clock, because the large clock pictures fill the page so that one page does not have many problems.

When you have a page or two filled with lots of similar practice problems (“drill”) or large sets of problems, feel free to only assign 1/2 or 2/3 of those problems. If your child grasps it with less amount of exercises, then that is perfect! If not, you can always assign him/her the rest of the problems some other day. In fact, you could even use these unassigned problems the next week or next month for some additional review.

In general, 1st-2nd graders might spend 25-40 minutes a day on math. 3rd-4th graders might spend 30-60 minutes a day. 5th - 6th graders might spend 45-75 minutes a day. If your child finds math enjoyable, he/she can of course spend more time with it! However, it is not good to drag out the lessons on a regular basis, because that can then affect the child's attitude towards math.


Working space and the usage of additional paper

The curriculum generally includes working space directly on the page for students to work out the problems. However, feel free to let your students to use extra paper when necessary. They can use it, not only for the "long" algorithms (where you line up numbers to add, subtract, multiply, and divide), but also to draw diagrams and pictures to help organize their thoughts. Some students won't need the additional space (and may resist the thought of extra paper), while some will benefit from it. Use your discretion.

Some exercises don't have any working space, but just an empty line for the answer (e.g. 200 + _____ = 1,000). Typically, I have intended that such exercises to be done using MENTAL MATH.

However, there are some students who struggle with mental math (often this is because of not having studied and used it in the past). As always, the teacher has the final say (not me!) as to how to approach the exercises and how to use the curriculum. We do want to prevent extreme frustration (to the point of tears). The goal is always to provide SOME challenge, but not too much, and to let students experience success enough so that they can continue enjoying learning math.

Students struggling with mental math will probably benefit from studying the basic principles of mental calculations from the earlier grades. This article gives you a few such principles, but to study all of them, one would need to go through all the earlier grade levels of Math Mammoth curriculum, and find the lessons that list mental math strategies. They are taught in the chapters about addition, subtraction, place value, multiplication, and division.


Using tests

There is generally a test for each chapter (with a few exceptions), which can be administered right after studying the chapter. The tests are optional. Some homeschooling families might prefer not to give tests at all. The main reason I have provided tests is for diagnostic purposes, and so that homeschooling families can use them for their record keeping. I have not provided any grading system for the chapter tests. You can grade them however you want. These tests are not aligned or matched to any standards.

These test files are located in their own folder. They are provided as PDF files and as html files. Backup files are also provided. If you print the html files from your web browser, set the margins to 0.6 inches in the Page Setup. You can also set your header and footer in the Page Setup of your browser.

You can open the html files in most any word processor (such as Microsoft Word) for editing. Then you can edit the test and change the numbers or problems in it. However, remember to save the edited test files under a different file name, or you will lose the original test file. If this happens anyway, and you wish to go back to the originals, backup files are provided in a folder called /backup-copies/.

The end of year test has a suggestion for grading. This test is best administered as a diagnostic or assessment test, which will tell you how well the student remembers and has mastered the math content of the entire grade level.


Using cumulative reviews and the worksheet maker

There is a cumulative review for each chapter, except for chapter 1. For example, the review titled “Cumulative Review, Chapters 1 - 4” means that the problems in that review cover topics from chapters 1-4. These cumulative reviews are available as htm, doc, and pdf files. You are welcome to edit the doc or htm files for the purpose of providing a slightly different review for your student. For example, you can easily change the numbers in the problems.

Use the corresponding cumulative review some time after you are done studying a particular chapter. For example, you could use the “Cumulative Review, Chapters 1 - 4” right after or before administering the chapter 4 test. Or, you could use it 1-2 weeks after finishing chapter 4.

There are no “hard and fast” rules when it comes to cumulative reviews. It is not necessary to use all of them within a school year; however I do recommend that you use at least 1/2 of them.

One of the main reasons for the cumulative reviews is to spot any areas that the student has not grasped well or has forgotten, and needs additional practice. When you find such a topic or concept, you have several options:

  1. Check if the worksheet maker lets you make worksheets for that topic (for example, conversions between measuring units or equivalent fractions).
  2. Check for any online games in the Introduction part of the particular chapter in which this topic or concept was taught.
  3. You might also be able to simply reprint the lesson from the student worktext and have the student restudy that.
  4. Or, maybe you only assigned 2/3 of the exercise sets the first time through, and can now use the remaining exercises.
  5. Occasionally a lack or a mistake is not of concern. This is true if the topic either is going to be taught in-depth or can safely be delayed until the next grade level.

    Such topics include: measuring and clock and coins in grade 1, borrowing over zeros, and multiplication and fractions in grade 2, multi-digit multiplication and decimals in grade 3, a two-digit divisor in long division and multiplying decimals in grade 4, and integers and percent in 5th (studied again in 6th). There may be a few others.

    If you decide to delay such a topic, just don't forget to study it thoroughly later on.

Another sign that the student has not grasped a necessary concept is if he/she cannot do WORD PROBLEMS in the subsequent chapters that require past knowledge or concepts. If your child has great difficulty with those kinds of word problems, then it might be time to use the worksheet maker, online games, or restudy the concept using the worktext. I have always tried to make the word problems progressively so they involve concepts and skills studied in earlier chapters.


Frequently asked questions

Please read the FAQ at the Math Mammoth website.


Contact the author

In case of any further questions (but please first check the FAQ!) about the curriculum, you can contact me at www.mathmammoth.com/contact.php.

I wish you success in teaching math!
Maria Miller