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Math Mammoth, Science Bob, Piecemeal Curriculum

Added by Heather Idoni

Monday, March 12, 2012
Vol. 13 No. 6, March 12, 2012, ISSN: 1536-2035
(c) 2012, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

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Math Mammoth

Math Mammoth offers affordable, yet quality math worktexts and workbooks for grades 1-12, loved by parents, homeschoolers, and teachers. All of the books are available as downloads -- and most also as printed books.

Math Mammoth books concentrate on conceptual understanding and are strong in mental math. The directions in the worktexts are written directly to the student, and are often self-teaching, thus requiring little preparation and involvement from the teacher.

Check out:

Maria Miller, the author


Notes from Heather
-- Reader Feedback & More
Winning Website
-- Science Bob's Blog
Helpful Tip
-- Backing Up Files
Featured Question
-- Piecing Together a Curriculum
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information


Notes from Heather

Masterly Inactivity

SimplyCharlotteMason.com has offered a FREE ebook all about the topic of "masterly inactivity"!

You can find it here:


Here is your homework -- I want you to take some time to read at least a portion of the book -- whatever you have time for. Then I would like to hear YOUR opinions about this concept -- as well as your own examples of what you might call "masterly inactivity" successes, if you have had some. Have you observed your children making productive use of down time? Have you encouraged them at all toward this end? Please share -- you can just reply to this email or use the feedback address below! :-)


Reader Feedback on 'Why, How & What Books to Read Aloud' -- A Counter Opinion


"Hi, Heather -- I read the article on reading aloud today and I think it was a good article with one exception. The author said not to use books with small vocabularies, but he didn't say anything about being age appropriate. I was an educator for many years before I became a homeschooler and sometimes I'm dismayed to hear what other homeschoolers are reading to their children because it's way over their heads and not appropriate for their ages at all.

Because they read articles about the importance of classics, parents are force-feeding them to kids that are far too young to get anything out of them. Young children should be read a variety of books and, if they are very young, then small vocabulary is not only appropriate but necessary. They need to have a readiness to understand classic books -- even simpler ones like Peter Pan -- and the way you build that readiness is to read simpler books to them when they are little. Leveled books that are phonics-based can be incredibly valuable for building reading skills, but none of them would be considered classics.

Picture books are a huge market and they are so important for developing reading skills. They learn to 'read' the story through the pictures. A common technique used in classrooms is to do a picture walk where the children predict the story based on looking at pictures alone before they read. It builds prediction skills and critical thinking.

An important goal with read alouds and silent reading is to build life long readers -- children who read for the sheer joy of it. That means as a parent you want to make reading joyful. Expose them a variety of genres -- even silly books -- and they will see reading as a joy. They will want to read and they will learn to read faster when they are motivated.

Thanks for the article. I appreciated the list of book suggestions." -- Heather M.


Your feedback is always welcome -- just send your email to heather(at)familyclassroom.net.



Feedback for Maria Miller and Math Mammoth

"Hi, Maria! I just wanted to thank you for your math curriculum! My 7 year old son was struggling with math using a different, rather more expensive curriculum, so I took a crazy chance on Math Mammoth after remembering your blogging about it. Just a few weeks into the second grade books, and he's having no trouble at all! He doesn't cry during math anymore. I am so very relieved that I just had to tell you. Thank you for your no-nonsense, easy-to-understand approach to math." -- Cindy D.


"Just wanted to let you know what a great experience we are having with your curriculum. I have attempted Saxon, Singapore, Right Start. My now 8 year old son was chugging along rather reluctantly. I, on the other hand, was overwhelmed by the amount of prep work and how long it was taking! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! We are thrilled -- no more arguing, no more frustration! No more endless predigesting of convoluted curriculum! Your program is so concise and cohesive. It's a homeschooling parent's answered prayer. I just can't say how thankful I am. But... Thank You anyway!" -- Sandra P.


"Dear Maria -- We have been using Math Mammoth for a few months and we are thrilled!! I first tried Miquon Math and then Saxon. Neither of these are truly homeschool friendly. Miquon had no support materials; Saxon was an overload of poorly organized spiraling material. It was also clear Saxon was a rehash of a classroom text. Homeschooling is not the same as a classroom -- we have different needs.

Your Light Blue series is just right. My kids sit at the kitchen table while I clean up breakfast and do their math. If they need help I can jump in and help with a concept and then leave them to their work. It is fabulous. My daughter is flying through first grade math and her confidence is growing with each chapter. Thank you." -- Denise in Maine


Read more testimonials and reviews about Math Mammoth!


Winning Website

Science Bob


Here's a yummy science activity to teach about the phases of the moon:


Bob says...

"I've always been a fan of science activities that you can eat. One of my favorites that I have been using for years is the Oreo Cookie Moon Phases activity. It's almost as if Oreo cookies were made for this lesson, and it's a great way to see how well students can match a moon phase name with a moon phase appearance."


Helpful Tip

Backing Up Files Online - FREE Service


"Crashplan! It's great and backs up automatically every day so you don't have to think about it. There's a free version or you can use one of the cheap plans that have more storage space."

Laurie, The Shorter Word


Featured Question

Piecing Together a Curriculum

"I have been homeschooling for 5 years now and I have always used a boxed comprehensive curriculum. I am currently using HOD (Heart of Dakota) which we like, but I use my own science, language arts and math, so basically we are using HOD for history and bible and some of their science. So, as I teach each day and think about whether I am going to purchase HOD again for next year(which would be this summer for us), I wonder why not just do my own thing since I am basically piecing together already. I still have the help of the teacher's guide for history and for the living books (readers and read alouds) that go with the history lessons.

My question is this: Do any of you have any advice on how I know what I need to keep teaching as we go along from year to year so I know we are covering everything -- and how I would know which readers to pick out for my kids? How do you do that? I feel like I would save a lot of money not getting a boxed curriculum since I am already purchasing math, language arts and science separately besides the whole curriculum. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!" -- Wendy


Featured Answer

"Hi, Wendy -- I am mom of 3 boys ages 17, 15 and 11. I have homeschooled from the beginning and want to tell you that is a great question.

One easy tip to remember is that 'cutting back' does not mean 'cutting out'. Cutting back on stuff you don't like doesn't mean you can't use the parts you do like. It means you can put your curricula together and still use a teacher's guide and laid out lesson plans.

A lot of curricula comes with overviews, lesson plans, grids and scope and sequence so you can see what is covered each year.

The problem with a lot of scope (what to cover) and sequence (in what order) is that it may not be what we want to cover and in the order we want to do it.

Put your focus on educating yourself as to the subjects your children need -- and then scope and sequence will follow. Because boxed curricula can serve as a comfort to those that struggle or don't wish to lesson plan, you can do just what you mentioned. Chuck the parts you want to fill in with something different.

Here is another tip to remember: If you find a curriculum you like and use it each year, that company will follow a scope and sequence and you will be 'in step' for what most children their age are covering. Another thing to remember is that you are NOT going to cover everything.

I cried tears, sweated, and cried more tears with worry as my oldest started preschool. He is now at high school level and doing college at the same time -- and what I have learned is humbling.

If I reach his heart and equip him with the tools he needs to find what he doesn't know, then his learning continues life long. I don't know everything and I have gaps. If he has gaps, he fills them in. He does not need my motivation, just my unconditional love that I will do what it takes to keep him moving forward.

Any concerned parent will worry about 'gaps', but they can be filled in at anytime if we and our kids have good study habits and ENJOY learning with EVERY breath we take. THAT IS the KEY!

Here are some tips:

1. Find the scope and sequence for the curricula providers you are using and look over the next few years. Is that where you want to be? Most companies will provide this to their users.

2. Making laid-out lesson planning does NOT mean you have to write lesson plans. I have made many, many lesson plans, but I have begged, borrowed and cheated to suit our needs. It can mean you pick and choose from what is already laid out. Why reinvent the wheel? Use a teacher's guide. I have used many teacher's guides. Some are worth their weight in gold; some I wouldn't pay 2 cents for.

3. As far as locating readers, one easy and inexpensive way to do this is to check the website of providers you like that offer boxed curriculum and look at their reading lists. They have assigned for the grade up/down and the grade level your children are. Then choose yours accordingly. I loved the readers from Veritas Press, Calvert, Sonlight and Learning Language Arts Through Literature, just to name a few.

4. Because I know we want some way to measure as we go along or at least see what other children are doing, I find that Christian Light Education's FREE scope and sequence is right on up there with some of the best. It is a very thorough and comprehensive scope and sequence. This company does not have fluff and lot of their curriculum is black/white but their material is rigorous and solid. If you want the scope and sequences shipped to you it's about $2.00 for each -- or you can download it FREE at the links right above where it costs. They have both elementary and high school. Here is the link: www.clp.org/store/browse/283.

I hope that helps you some, Wendy!" -- Tina Robertson, www.newbeehomeschooler.com


Share YOUR Answer!

Would you like to offer additional insight and/or another opinion for Wendy?

Just send your email to mailto:hn-answers@familyclassroom.net.


Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question for our readers? Yours will be up NEXT! :-)

Send it to mailto:hn-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll answer it in an upcoming issue!


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