TOS Sweet Critique: Math Mammoth

Math MammothWhat:  Math Mammoth


Cost:  Varies by product {curriculum or supplemental}; we reviewed the complete grade 3 curriculum and it’s only $34 for a ton of downloaded content.  There are even options ranging from $2 to $7.

Recommended Ages:  Varies; Math Mammoth has done a genius job of putting together content that not only goes by grade level, but by subject as well, so you can start whenever you feel is best for your child.

cover for Math Mammoth Grade 3-A Complete WorktextWhat Is Math Mammoth?


Math Mammoth is a math curriculum written by homeschooling mom Maria Miller.  She has created a self-teaching curriculum filled with a ton of information!  Math Mammoth is available as grade level curriculum, subject matter curriculum, or many other supplemental worktexts.

Products are available in a variety of formats:  downloads {the best option in my opinion}, printed, and CD.  As of November, 2011, the downloadable versions come with PDFs enabled for annotation, which means they can be completed directly on the computer {love that!!}.

Ms. Miller has made a variety of lesson types available {categorized by color}, and that can sometimes become confusing.  There’s a great FAQ that details what each type is.

What Did We Think?


I am very appreciative of the variety available with Math Mammoth.  So many times we’re forced to simply choose something by grade level, or in a package that is only partially relevant to our child.  With Math Mammoth, you have a much better chance of tailoring a math program to specifically fit your child, and it’s non-consumable.

Our grade 3 curriculum came with worksheets, tests, cumulative reviews, a user guide, cutouts, extra worksheet creator, and much more.  I liked how I could pick and choose what I wanted and leave the rest.

Another facet of Math Mammoth that I really like is the Make It Real Learning series.  These books, written by a math teacher, feature more advanced math in ways that it is applicable to everyday life.  I think this makes for much more interesting learning.  You can get each title separately for $4.99, or you can get all the titles in this series for only $39.99.

I will say that for a child like Babydoll who tends to get a little scared when there seems to be quite a bit of text on the page, this might be a scary thing for them.  There is a lot of text on these pages!  With that said, when you actually read through it, the teaching is very to-the-point and there is just plenty of practice built in.

What Did Others Think?


For more perspectives on Math Mammoth, check out what other TOS crewmembers thought.

True Confessions:  I was provided with curriculum materials to facilitate my review.  All statements are my own.

TOS Sweet Critique: Keyboard Town Pals

Keyboard Town PALS

Keyboard Town PalsWhat:  Keyboard Town PALS


Cost:  The program is currently on sale for $30 – $45 depending upon the options you choose {CD-ROM vs. web-based, bundled package, etc.}

Recommended Ages:  Ages 6 and up

What Is It?


Keyboard Town PALS is a computer-based program that teaches typing to children.   Yes, I know.  There are lots of these.  Or, at least a few.  What makes this one different?

This program uses a Purposeful Associative Learning System {PALS}.  Say what?  This means that the program uses a well-devised way to use associations to teach typing.  I know this doesn’t work for some kids, but it generally works for Babydoll.  Having a story helps her remember something so much easier.

 So how exactly does Keyboard Town PALS do this?  Keyboard Town is made up of three streets.

Each street has residents {letters, numbers, symbols}.  The streets and the residents correspond to the rows and keys on the keyboard.

Then, through a series of stories and other fun stuff, the child is taught the keys in a vertical manner.  Vince and I were talking, and we think we remember being taught vertically, and it was much easier to learn the finger associations as opposed to learning where the letters were and then finger placement {horizontally}.

What Did We Think?


Well, overall I think it’s an innovative program that has really thought about covering the bases as far as a comprehensive typing program for kids {after all, it’s supposed to teach kids how to type in an hour}.  The program can be used with all learning levels and thought has really been put into creating a unique way to teach kids typing.

Personally, I thought the puppets and Sunny were a bit too silly for Babydoll {she’s nine}, but after her initial “Hmmm…”, she said she was able to see past that and still enjoy the program.  I think she even enjoyed the stories about the puppets and their purpose, she just wasn’t a big fan of Sunny.  Despite this, she sat there for a good while playing and learning, so overall I think it’s a win.

I also think this program could be used for kids younger than six, as soon as they have letter recognition down.  Shoot, it can even be used to teach letter recognition and sounds.  Much above then, though, I don’t know how well a child would respond to the puppets.  Take that with a grain of salt, because each kid is different; some will be completely happy doing something till a much older age than others will.

What Did Others Think?


Be sure to check out what other TOS members thought about Keyboard Town PALS!

True Confessions:  I was provided with access to Keyboard Town PALS in order to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

Field Trip 3 – McWane Science Center: Robotics & Mars Mission


Challenger logoI’ve got eight words for you: programming a robot and a voyage to Mars.

That’s right, it sounds totally awesome.  And, it was.

Well, it looked awesome; I didn’t really get to participate.  Sad face.  But happy face for Babydoll, it was such a cool experience!

A homeschool mom organized two days worth of field trips; the first was to McWane Science Center for a robotics program and voyage to Mars.

Robotics Challenge


Our first stop was the robotics program.  After a brief introduction, the kids placed themselves into groups of about three and commenced with programming a LEGO robot.

I could tell by the look on Babydoll’s face that she was scared at first.  When the woman announced they’d be programming robots, the terror washed over her:  “I don’t know how to program a stinkin’ robot!”  But the woman did a great job of explaining everything in an entertaining and concise manner.

Babydoll was teamed up with a couple of other girls around her age and they worked together nicely.  Back and forth they went, hooking the robot up to the computer, programming it to do one thing, disconnecting it, testing it, reconnecting it, fixing the program, and rinse and repeat.

Their objective was to get the robot through a maze.  The program taught them so many things such as the importance of guessing and testing, working through something in a systematic manner, and robot programming {a very important skill}.

None of the teams got their robot through the entire maze by the time we had to head out, but they all did a great job.

Voyage to Mars


After a thirty minute break to check out the museum, we headed into the Challenger Learning Center to learn about the upcoming voyage to Mars.

A couple of days prior to the field trip we were given a list of the teams for the project and each child was able to pick their top three choices.  Babydoll ended up on her second choice team {Remote}, which turned out to be something related to geology, so she was excited.

They were given their badges, boarded the “spaceship” for their transport to the Mars Transport Vehicle, and got to work.

It was then time to teleport to mission control and experience that same team on the “other side.”

This was a great field trip; Babydoll loved it! If you have a Challenger center near you, I highly recommend checking out the programs they offer.

I’m linking up to my bloggy friend Anna-Marie’s field trip hop.  Be sure to check it out for great field trip ideas.

Babydoll’s Four Letter Word: Grammar

Growing with Grammar

Growing With Grammar Level 3, Grammar Book When we started homeschooling, I quickly realized that Babydoll could not stand grammar.  She loathes it.  We’ve tried our boxed curriculum’s grammar program, some online programs, and a few other things here and there and nothing quite seemed to click.

The boxed curriculum just drug it out way too much.  I even got confused, and I like grammar.  The online programs worked well, but I didn’t feel it was complete.  I liked it for review and reinforcement, but not a curriculum.

We started the year with editing worksheets, and that seemed to drive points home, but again, it wasn’t new teaching.

What to do?

Growing with Grammar


Enter Growing with Grammar.

I don’t remember exactly how I found this program, but I did, and I decided to take a chance on it.

It looked fairly basic, and short.  You know, not a ton of verbiage and worksheets and other stuff.

And it’s child-led.  Score!

You know what always made grammar worse?  The fact that I didn’t know how to teach it to Babydoll in a way that made it understandable.  So, I was all for something that she did on her own.

I’m not gonna lie, though.  I had my doubts.  I couldn’t imagine something like grammar being done without my help.

But, again, sure, let’s go for it.  We won’t be any worse off…

How Did It Work Out?


Growing with GrammarFreaking wonderful!!  It seriously is like night and day.

Babydoll almost enjoys grammar, and I haven’t had to do anything!  She sits there, reads through her lesson, and then does the workbook practice.

The program does a great job of building on what was previously learned without making it seem so unbelievably repetitive.  I also like the way the program gives positive encouragement in the form of little “points to remember.”  I think this gives Babydoll just the right amount of confidence to get to the point where she doesn’t even realize she’s applying the rule anymore.

I know all of us learn in different ways, but I wanted to share our experience with this program and how happy we’ve been.

Do you have a grammar program you use that you love?

Also, be sure to check out Jimmie’s 10 days of language arts for tons of great info!

I wasn’t asked to do this post or compensated in any way; we just use it and love it!

Sweet Critique: Reader’s Digest Geography Book

It’s one of my life’s missions as a homeschooling mom to ensure that Babydoll is not a typical “stupid” American, completely oblivious to the world around her.  I’ve definitely brushed up on my skills since I’ve been teaching her.

I Used to Know That:  Geography is a lifesaver in this department!  This books gives you pretty much everything you’d ever want to know about the world around you, geographically speaking.

The book is divided by continent, water, and Earth.  I like that it not only explains information about different countries but also specifics about Earth itself such as climate zones, Earth from the inside out, and tectonic plates.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is what is know as a Geo Gem.  These are little facts sprinkled throughout the book.  For instance, I learned:

The Tonle Sap River in Cambodia reverses direction every year.

How Homeschoolers Could Use It


I think you could use this book in a couple of ways, either as a curriculum on its own or as a reference.  Let me say, though, I’m not into reinventing the wheel.  I have so much respect for those of you who put together your own lesson plans and curriculum, but it’s just not my flavor of icing.

There is so much information in this book that I would think you could take it, a map, and some ingenuity and put together a pretty complete geography curriculum.  It’s also got so much information in it that you could easily reference it for extra material when doing a geography study.

Reader’s Digest is giving away a copy of the book to one of you!!  Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

True Confessions:  I was provided with a copy of this book to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.

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