Math Mammoth User Guide, Grade 4
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
Using tests
Using cumulative reviews and the worksheet maker
Concerning challenging word problems and puzzles
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 his/her own. You can also let the child study the lesson completely on his own if you feel he/she is capable.


Pacing the curriculum

The lessons in Math Mammoth complete curriculum are NOT written 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, you should calculate yourself 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 some other span of time you want to allot to it).

You can check below how many pages there are to do for your particular grade level. Fill in how many days of school you have in mind. Also allow several days for tests and cumulative reviews - at least twice the number of chapters in the curriculum. Then, to get a count of "pages/day", divide the number of pages by the number of available days. This number will be between 1 and 2, assuming you do school 5 days a week, about 40 weeks a year. Then, multiply this number by 5 to get an approximate page count to go through in a week.

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
4-A180 102 8 94 1.91 9.6
4-B173 98 8 90 1.92 9.6
Grade 4 total 353 200 16 184 1.92 9.6

The one below is for you to fill in.

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
4-A180          
4-B173          
Grade 4 total 353          

Now, let's assume you determine that you need to study about 1.7 pages a day, or about 8.5 pages a week in order to get through the curriculum, based on the number of school days in your school year. As you study each lesson, keep in mind that sometimes most of the page might be filled with those 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 "gets 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.


Using tests

There is a test for each chapter, 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 test files are located in their own folder. They are provided as PDF files and as editable html files. 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.

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 matched 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 PDF files and as editable html files. You are welcome to edit the html 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 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 thus 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 this topic or concept was taught in.

  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 is not of concern. This is true if the topic either is going to be taught in-depth or can safely be delayed to the next grade level.

    Such topics in grade 2 include: regrouping in subtraction with three-digit numbers and multiplication. Even clock reading may be delayed to the end of 2nd grade or beginning of 3rd. If you decide to delay 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 striven to make the word problems progressively so that they involve concepts and skills studied in earlier chapters.

Concerning challenging word problems and puzzles

While this is not absolutely necessary, I heartily recommend supplementing Math Mammoth with challenging word problems and puzzles. You could do that once a month, for example, or more often if the student enjoys it.

The goal of challenging story problems and puzzles is to develop the student’s logical and abstract thinking and mental discipline. I recommend starting these in fourth grade, at the latest. Then, students are able to read the problems on their own and have developed mathematical knowledge in many different areas. Of course I am not discouraging students from doing such in earlier grades, either.

Math Mammoth curriculum contains lots of word problems, and they are usually multi-step  problems. Several of the lessons utilize a bar model for solving problems. Even so, the problems I have created are usually tied to a specific concept or concepts. I feel students can benefit from solving problems and puzzles that require them to think “out of the box” or are just different from the ones I have written.

You can use the resources below for some problem solving practice. You can find more puzzles online by searching for "brain puzzles for kids," "logic puzzles for kids," or "brain teasers for kids." Choose something that fits your budget (most of these are free) and that you and your students will like.

Problem Solving Decks from North Carolina public schools
Includes a deck of problem cards for grades 1-8, student sheets, and solutions. Many of these problems are best solved with calculators. All of these problems lend themselves to students telling and writing about their thinking.
http://www.homeschoolmath.net/teaching/problem-solving-decks.php

Math Stars Problem Solving Newsletter (grades 1-8)
These newsletters are a fantastic, printable resource for problems to solve and their solutions.
http://www.homeschoolmath.net/teaching/math-stars.php

Problem Solving from MathWire.com
Neat and creative problems to solve for K-8.
http://www.mathwire.com/problemsolving/probs.html

Step-by-Step Problem Solving, Grade 4
A problem-solving workbook that provides step-by-step instruction, problem pages at varied levels of difficulty, a math strategies overview, and a complete answer key. The book utilizes bar models just like Math Mammoth and Singapore Math. Other grades available also.
www.amazon.com/Step-Problem-Solving-Carson-Dellosa-Learning/dp/1609964799?tag=mathmammoth-20

Challenge Math coverChallenge Math For the Elementary and Middle School Math Student
Over 1,000 math word problems for children in grades 4-8. Answers are included in the back of the book. ISBN 978-0967991559.
http://www.amazon.com/Challenge-Elementary-Middle-Student-Edition/dp/0967991552/?tag=mathmammoth-20

Mathematics Enrichment - nrich.maths.org
Open-ended, investigative math challenges for all levels from the UK. Use Stage 3 problems for 7th grade.
http://nrich.maths.org/
http://nrich.maths.org/public/themes.php lets you find problems organized by mathematical themes.

Figure This! Math Challenges for Families
Word problems related to real life. They do not always have all the information but you have to estimate and think. For each problem, there is a hint, other related problems, and interesting trivia. Website supported by National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
http://figurethis.nctm.org/

MathCounts School Handbook (PDF)
This handbook contains 300 creative problems for grades 6-8. All problems are mapped according to topic, to difficulty level, and to the Common Core State Standards.
https://www.mathcounts.org/resources/school-handbook

“Problem of the Week” (POWs)
Problem of the week contests are excellent for finding challenging problems and for motivation. There are several:
 

See even more word problem and problem solving resources at
http://www.homeschoolmath.net/online/problem_solving.php

You can also use puzzles from the Internet:

Search in Google for “brain puzzles for kids”

Search in Google for “logic puzzles for kids”

Search in Google for “brain teasers for kids”


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