Monday, January 25, 2010

Our Review of Math U See

I had this review mostly written, and then realized there was some introductory statements I wanted to make.

First, the three main curriculum I was thinking about was Math U See, Saxon, and Singapore Math.

Saxon, I have taught with.  The school I student taught at used it, and I loved it.  My two concerns with it were: 1. cost- it looked to be much more expensive, costing about $100 per year per student, and I have a friend who uses it and just buys it off Ebay used for much less.  2.  In reviews they said when you got to later years the weakness was kids didn't do as well with problem solving if they'd been raised using Saxon.  So, I was a little worried about that.

Singapore Math- I was really interested in this one and really looking at it.  I saw a couple of people who didn't like the cartoons and stuff, but I didn't really see any negative reviews.

And then the other I was seriously looking at was Math U See, well I had a friend who was using it, and she LOVES it.  She hates math and loves this one.  Her sons loved it, and liked watching the videos.  And I got to look at the actual stuff.  That's a big deal for me because anything can look good if you don't actually look at the materials.  But, this I got to look at the stuff.

So, here's what you get when you buy Math U See, each part is sold separately, but this is what you would need for the Kindergarten level.  Man, I'm not spelling well today.  I've had to go back and correct two words, that's sad.

math,math U See

First thing you get is a set of blocks.  This is the starter set.  It comes with 20 tens, 4 hundreds, 4 each of 2-9, and then 24 ones.  I like the fact that you can double check if you have everything by looking at if it's all built up right.  I can just look at it in the box and say "we're missing a one, everyone look for a green piece."

math,math U See

They really emphasize doing lots of hands on stuff.  And for my kids right now it's just perfect for where they are.  They love to sit there and count out the ones they need to make five.  So far I've only had them working with ones in their lessons.  Later on they'll use the color coded blocks that are 3 units long, or so on.

To me the blocks kind of remind me of a combination of cuisenaire rods and base 10 blocks.  The cuisenaire rods were made to different lengths and colors, but they weren't supposed to be specifically 8, so the red block was just a red block and you could use it for comparison and such, but it wasn't specifically intended as 8.  Where as in this it is 8 (and I know I have the colors wrong, I'm just making up an example).  It's like base 10 in that there is a set size, you can very much see how 10 units make a 10.  I also like that you can snap them together.  So, if you wanted to demonstrate that 10 units make a 10, you would just pop the 10 units right on top of each other and there's a 10 for you right there.  You could do the same with the 7 and the 3 to show that those added together make a 10.

So, that's the blocks.

For teaching the lessons.

farm,science,science sunday

You watch a video, and yes I know this is a picture of watching Dinosaur Train, but I don't have a picture of them watching their lesson.  Oh, and Superman saw the picture and said "Yes, that's Batman, because (and he looks down at his shirt), I'm wearing a blue shirt."  The video lessons are very short, maybe 5 minutes.  My boys usually will ask to watch the video again.  Which to me is very amusing because he's not doing anything really interesting, just telling you how to do the pages.  But, they like the videos a lot.

math,math U See

The workbook itself.  It's not super colorful, so if your kid needs lots of color, then this is probably not for you.  For my kids I sometimes think having plain black and white is actually better and less distracting.  As you can see on this page it's a simple one to one matching and then finding the numeral that corresponds.

Two other things you can buy:

1.  A Cd of songs to help you master skip-counting, some addition tricks, and other stuff.  I go back and forth on the CD.  On the one hand it's got some useful songs, and I like that after each song he goes on to repeat the actual numbers involved.  But, sometimes if you're not paying attention because it's kids singing it's a little harder to understand.  So, we'll see how we like this long term.

2.  Completer Set- that's for the blocks.  There's another set of blocks you can buy for later years, and if you're teaching more than 3 kids, I think is when they suggested it.  I went ahead and bought it figuring if I don't stay with this, they're useful for pretty much any math we use.  That, and my kids love to build with them.  In case you can't tell from the pictures.

Here's the PROS as I see them
1.  It's very thorough.  They believe you teach one skill, and teach it to mastery.  So, the next year teaches addition, and they teach all the different types of it, solve for the missing number, double digit, so on and so forth.  Which to me makes more sense than in first grade learning 1-10 facts, then in 2nd learning 1-18 memorized and able to do double digit with carrying, but not mastering it (these are what I taught when I was teaching in public school in Texas, your state may have different requirements).
2.  It's hands on.  I like that.  My kids need hands on.
3.  They encourage you to understand the concepts fully before you teach it to your kids, and so they have a lot of information in the teacher manuals.  Including tricks for you to remember.

Here's the CONS as I see them
1.  If you might be transitioning back to public or private school it teaches in a different style then those schools do.  So, it's not going to introduce fractions in 1st grade.  They wait until you've mastered other skills and are able to do everything with fractions.
2.  It's not colorful.  For my kids I think this might be a plus, but I could see how some kids might struggle with it.
3.  There's not a lot of show.  He pretty much just presents the materials, and that's it.
4.  They think slightly differently from how I'm used to.  They teach 0-9, not 1-10.  Do you see the difference?  I'm still trying to decide if I like that.  I understand the point they're trying to make, but it makes they're hundred chart different from everything else.  I don't know.

So, that's my thoughts on the matter.  We'll see if they've changed after I've been using it for more than 2 weeks.

Well, I was originally going to put links for all of the different products, but I'm tired.  And, well.........  I'm feeling lazy.  I couldn't sleep last night.  Instead I spent large portions of the night not sleeping and just thinking and thinking and thinking.  It was rather frustrating.

Linking this over to Joyful Learner.
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