Monday, October 20, 2014

Homeschool: Learning with Math U See (Review and giveaway!)


Math has been one of my weakest subjects (aside from Chinese that is), and I never enjoyed learning Math. My parents had to get me a tutor, and I more or less struggled through the subject, until I learnt probability and statistics. That was when suddenly Math made sense: it was useful, and it applied to real life! 

Anyway, I approached teaching Math to Junior J with a fair bit of apprehension. Yes, teaching pre-school Math is easy, since it is simple, and you can approach it in so many ways and integrate it with real life. However, my chief concern was whether I would be able to introduce Math concepts systematically, and give him a good foundation with regards to the subject. So I started asking other homeschoolers to see what Math curriculum they were using, and I found that a fair number of them were using Math U See. So I decided to try the curriculum out, and we've been using the materials for almost three months. 

The main draw of Math U See for most parents seem to be the fact that it is a complete, stand-alone curriculum, that focuses on teaching concepts and building mastery. The curriculum claims to teach the whys and does not focus on just memorization. It has materials catered up to the Secondary Math level. 

I especially liked the manipulatives, and they were one of the main reasons why we decided to use this curriculum. I find manipulatives are essential when teaching kids Math, simply because they help to make more abstract concepts concrete. We started off with using Montessori beads for counting, and while they were useful, they were also fiddly little things, and I could not use these to explain certain Math concepts. We also tried Cuisenaire rods, but they too were smaller, and not as versatile. However, instead of writing about what didn't work, let's focus on what the Math U See manipulatives can do:

:: The manipulatives are base 10 blocks, and work like Lego bricks, so you can build layers to see how numbers relate to each other. (By the way, I love the pastel colours!) This isn't the case for the Montessori beads. These are also larger than the Cuisenaire rods and that makes it easier for little hands to manipulate.  Sometimes though, Junior J gets distracted and ends up building with them. But there are times where he learns through building, like the time he found out that ten pieces of 10s was equal to 100!


:: They allow kids to "see" addition, subtraction and number bonds clearly: Kids can stack the number combinations to see if they are equal, or count the "missing" blocks for subtraction.


:: They also allow kids to visualize multiplication and division easily. For example in the picture below, you can see that 3 x 2 is also the same as 2 x 3.


:: All in all, the manipulatives are used to teach concepts up to the Secondary Math level, which helps in terms of integrating learning. Even key algebra and decimal concepts are taught using these manipulatives, along with additional inserts. Having the different numbered blocks in different colours made it easier for Junior J to see what numbers he was adding or working with, unlike the usual base 10 blocks which come in a single colour.

These are the blocks provided in one set of manipulatives.
We store them in our own hobby case, but you can also purchase
the Math U See wooden block box to house them too. 

Lessons for Math U See are taught using the manuals, where the student learns a new concept each chapter, and works through a series of problems in the Student Manual. They also use the manipulatives in solving the problems, and I like how the size of the squares in the manual correspond to the size of the manipulatives, so that you can actually match them up. 

One of the pages in the Primer level. 

Different concepts are taught, including telling the time, which also involves the use of the manipulatives. You can view the topics covered for the Primer level here, which is the first level of the series, and browse the materials (and topics covered) for each level of General Math here.

Another page in the Primer manual

The Student Manual in each level is accompanied by a Teacher's Manual (purchased separately), which gives guidelines on how to teach each topic. These manuals come with a DVD with video demonstrations for each lesson, so that means you can actually watch the videos with your child to minimize the preparation needed on your part. You can view a sample lesson here.

A page in the Primer level Teacher's manual.

One thing I liked about the manuals was the way they presented the questions. The questions are phrased simply and concisely, so that the focus is on working out the math concepts and building mastery. There are no wordy, long winded paragraphs about someone eating apples and having to figure out how many apples are left. Those questions tend to require more skills from a child: the ability to read, to comprehend complex sentences and the ability to figure out what the question is asking. The books are printed in black and white print, so there are no distracting diagrams or pictures. However, that being said, this means that parents must also prepare children to solve more complex questions (in terms of language) to prepare them for the PSLE.

A sample from the Beta level Student Manual. 

Another sample from the Beta level student manual. 

Another thing I liked about the curriculum was that there was minimal preparation on my part. I did not have to prepare my own worksheets and I didn't have to spend alot of time reading up. This meant we could consistently cover a little math each day, because I would just need about 5 minutes to teach Junior J the new concept, after which I could leave him to try the problems himself.

However, because of the no-frills way of teaching these concepts, some might find the curriculum a little boring. And since it focuses on mastery, there is a certain amount of drill and repetition required, which sometimes frustrates Junior J. So I find that there is the necessity to adapt according to the child's ability. This may mean cutting down on the number of pages he/she has to do each time (or you might even consider skipping some repeated problems if your child gets bored, since each lesson is 6 pages long), as well as varying the lessons by including games or other math activities. 

Having this curriculum has been liberating: I can use this to ensure that Junior J attains mastery for Math concepts, and the time I've gained in not having to plan detailed lessons could be used to plan other Math activities for him to vary things somewhat. All in all, it is a really good curriculum to use, but of course, do make your choice based on your child's strengths and learning style!

~~~~~~~

I was actually so keen on this curriculum that I approached Jenny, my contact from Green Sheep Asia (which distributes Math U See in Singapore, along with other learning materials/curricula) for this review opportunity. For those interested, do drop them an email at hithere@greensheepasia.com, and quote "MakingMum" to receive a free copy of their Skip Count Songbook and CD, when you order a set of manipulatives along with one set of Teacher and Student manuals. Do note that only ten sets are available for this promotion!

Also, I'm happy to share that Green Sheep Asia has kindly agreed to give away a set of the Math U See manipulatives to one reader of this blog! To enter the giveaway, just follow the instructions below in the Rafflecopter widget, and don't forget to comment in this blog post and leave your name and email address!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: We received a set of manipulatives and Primer manuals for purpose of this review, and paid for all other materials. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.

87 comments:

  1. My boy learns math using manipulatives, counters and printables.He's going to be 3 in December. I also found Maths very intimidating whilst in school and hope to be able to homeschool him in the subject in a way that engages him without being scary!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Isaac is a visual learner, so we often have to show him physical object so that he can relate. Irene Soh irenesoh@live.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. counters, printables and through games.

    Jingxian
    j_xian@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  4. She likes to pretend to be a shopkeeper at home where we can learn maths concepts with money :p

    sakuraharuka at live dot com
    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    ReplyDelete
  5. We include counting in our daily life, eg counting steps, counting the numbers as we go up the lift, count things around the house. We also sing number songs. My boy is currently in the numbers sensitive stage, so we have started reciting 1 to 100, basic additions like 1 + 1, etc..
    Jolin
    Babyhappie@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love to use colours and interactive techniques as part of the learning experience. For instance, using less words in learning materials but more colourful diagrams instead. I also try to relate what we are learning to our daily lives. History of how this mathematical concept came about is also part of our learning experience.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Me me me me me. Thank you very much. I'm Eve Sam . Email aaddress Is evenlyn@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for sharing this, Jus! I am also bad at Math (and many other things haha) and this would be so useful! I have to admit I've let "formal" math lessons take a back seat with my little ones but here's what we used to do;

    I printed out Parts of a monster and stuck them on magnetic sheets and asked her to put 2+3 eyes on the monster or 3+5 arms etc. http://www.gingerbreadmum.com/2013/02/monster-math_16.html

    And we also did some fractions as well. With playdough, like cut the ball (representing a whole) into halves then quarters.

    ReplyDelete
  9. My son loves playing with lego! This sounds like a good way to get him excited in maths :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Um we don't really use anything. Sean naturally likes math - he likes figuring out what ages he and his brothers will be in x years, simple addition/subtraction. This set looks good coz it will help him visualize better.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We use LLife of Fred series which brings math to life! : ) ang.angelia@gmail.com This will be very practical to use. Thanks Jus!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I'm starting my 4 yr old on Maths and this would certainly be useful for her. So far we have only used fruits for her to teach her simple counting.

    ReplyDelete
  13. My boy is 4 and learns math using counters and mainly from the Montessori Kindy that he's attending.

    email: beloved.gina@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think it has been a very difficult journey to home teaching my elder boy who has asd. He is a visual learner but i have difficulty presenting some topics to him visually the way he learns.. especially for English! hopefully i get to win this so that i have a topic lesser to worry for my boy!

    Ting, tinkene@Gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. My daughter loves to learn mathematics through games. She will turn 4 this Christmas and we teach her to count using Monopoly Junior and game cards. I started teaching her addition and subtraction through Unifix Blocks and the puzzle cards, when she was 2 ;)

    ReplyDelete
  16. My son start primary in 1 year and this will help in teaching him tha basic for his math.

    ReplyDelete
  17. My son loves solving puzzles and enjoys seeing math used in everyday life. Ling

    ReplyDelete
  18. My boy's learning style has been eclectic but for Maths, I'm gearing towards using manipulatives as he often has difficulty understanding concepts. He seems to be responding better with them but my use of manipulatives is also sporadic. Great to find a complete curriculum like this!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Maths was a subject that I struggled with in sch. Hopefully this set will help my girl in understanding maths concepts.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hope to win for my girl who is learning multiplication in school now. Thank you for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Boys loves to hold things touch things.. My boys are also visual learners so manipulative and physical items helps them in learning maths concepts. I like to use music to teach maths too. Like singing songs to memorize formula and time tables.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Love the manupulative vibrant color...and thanks for the giveaway!!

    email: reaching_for_you@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. My boy is 5 & currently learning simple addition & subtraction using cheerios as counters. Having this maths set will be very helpful for me to guide him in his learning.

    Connie
    connie21@gmx.net

    ReplyDelete
  24. I taught simple maths by drawing diagrams, visual aids (such as toys). Agree that if we were manipulative, my child would grasp concept more easily.

    Lilium Day
    walk_of_life(at)live(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi,

    Thank you for your review, ive been very keen on Math U See for my kids... I hope i win a set!

    ReplyDelete
  26. The pastel coloured manipulative will surely be a hit with my girls when learning Math!

    ken
    shwong2003@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  27. I teach using their favourite toys, and sometimes, candies!
    name: karen
    email: heart_ocean03@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  28. i use lego blocks for addition n substractions!
    jaime chan
    chueimei@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  29. My boy is a visual learner. Manipulative would be very useful for him

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks for sharing. Was looking around for something suitable for my boys and these look awesome.
    Norainee Ann Mohidu
    annxe_12@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  31. We use toys and printables to learn maths.

    Kaye Wong
    kayetky@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  32. We use lego blocks to help in maths!

    Jazry Chan
    jazry.shop@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  33. We try to use everyday objects to learn !

    Evelyn Lim
    Elim220380@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  34. We use cleaning-up-toys and books time to practise counting. How many transformers? How many cars? How man books? Etc etc. Heh!

    Robert Sim
    robert_sim@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  35. I'll use clean up books and counters to learn math with my girl.
    Lu Siu Ching
    precious_qing@yahoo.com.sg

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks so much for this post! Came in handy as I'm preparing my son for P1 next year. He's having some difficulties with Math, and such colourful and interesting manipulatives will definitely aid in his journey!

    Teng Shimin
    shimin_bunny@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  37. I use toys or I cut out some printables for my boy to learn Math as he is a Kinesthetic and visual learner.

    Cheryl Siew
    cheryl_siew@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  38. Counting in daily life and through games
    Cynthia Lau
    edenie98@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  39. i would love to use this to teach my gal whom will goes P1 next year. thanks
    fionacll@gmail.com
    fiona chan

    ReplyDelete
  40. I collected the bottle caps and from there, i taught him to do adfition and subtraction

    Vanessa Gutierrez
    menguita_gutietrez@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  41. I love to use manipulatives to explain simple concept to my boy. Would love to win this as maths is not easy for a young mind to grasps without visuals n manipulative.

    Judyfoo@me.com

    ReplyDelete
  42. We use simple things like marbles, ice cream sticks and Pom poms. We even count, add and subtract when eating cereal.

    keira_goh@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  43. These manipulatives will be handy for my visual learning triplets :) Thanks for writing a review on this. elsalow@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  44. Opposite from you, Math was my favourite subject in school! All the way from Primary to JC. But, after reading this, I'm thinking if I am not doing enough to introduce this subject to my girl. Uh oh. This sounds like a great opportunity and very handy tools to begin with. For Angel, she is quite a visual learner at this stage and basically we count things that we see outdoors, like lizards, snails and millipedes. I'm serious, she loves bugs and so why not make the most of it since she spends so much time observing them? She has also recently started reciting from 1-100 and we would do that in the car instead of listening to the radio. I seriously think I need to do more! Thanks for sharing this, Jus!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I am interested in a set for my children especially my 2nd child who is 5 yo and now learning addition and substration. I think this set will help when I introduce him to multiplication. I am looking for something playful yet interactive to teach him as I find classroom learning is not helping him much. He prefers to learn from practical play and games.

    roliew@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. I love these! It is great that you such reviews coz I find them extremely useful!

    ReplyDelete
  47. I'm on my second year of homeschooling and I've heard of using manipulatives but I didn't know they had a workbook to go along with them. I think this is an awesome method that would work well for my 5 year old son. Currently we use his little hot wheels to add and subtract. :)

    ReplyDelete
  48. We use a bead board and whatever we can lay our hands on like bottle caps and bread tags to learn math.
    Colortypes Sophie
    Colortypesink@gmail com

    ReplyDelete
  49. I searched online and diy toys to teach my boy maths. I used poms poms and magnetic numbers. Hubby also uses daily things like sweets to teach maths

    ReplyDelete
  50. Thank you for this detailed review! :) My 5 year old daughter loves Maths (unlike her mummy!!) and learns it best through daily life applications. I think these manipulatives will work really great to strengthen her foundational concepts before she moves on to those wordy problems with apples and such. Thanks again! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  51. My children like to learn Math through games.

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

    Waiwai
    mami(at)peipeihaohao(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thanks for your review. I heard about Math U See from the homeschool community but I have yet to purchase it. The teaching rods and systematic way of teaching Math to the young is what appeals to me most. It is appropriate time for me to introduce Math U See to my homeschool 4yr old girl.

    ReplyDelete
  53. See my comment stated.
    Jacqueline
    jacquelineyee@rocketmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  54. My daughter went through a phase of being really interested in adding and subtracting with groups of objects but now I struggle to raise as much interest. These manipulatives look perfect for trying again. Clairetet@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  55. We used counting games and flash cards to teach our son. This manipulative sure look interesting and appropriate to bring more interest to my son

    Andrew Wong

    ReplyDelete
  56. Playing counting games and buying assessment books for him to learn.

    Lim Yin Ping
    yippeewoods@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  57. This curriculum looks interesting in introducing Math to my child. Hope to win to try it out!
    We use jigsaw puzzle pieces to start off counting and introduce Math.

    Gordon Ngiam
    ngiamkm@yahoo.com.sg

    ReplyDelete
  58. We use printables to learn Maths. However these would be superb for visualization

    Micheleckp@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  59. my eldest usually calculates addtion and subtraction in his head. we have manipulatives and math storybooks at home to.

    zhenzhu
    veryfatmum99@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  60. Thanks for sharing. My kids are 3, and 5, and for my 5 year old, we are still trying to find out how to teach her (hence was thrilled to found this blog entry of yours) .. ... so far i've tried using lego blocks as counters.

    cyndi
    limcyndi@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  61. We have just started using linking cubes and bear counters at home for short maths lessons. Been scouting around for effective rods for a long time. Hope to win this set!

    cmeilim@gmail.com
    Carol Lim

    ReplyDelete
  62. Would love an alternative math teaching tool that is fun and interactive, rather than buying assessment books off the shelves for my kids! We try to make an effort to incorporate math in our daily activities.

    Ai-Lin
    nova67 at singnet dot com dot sg


    ReplyDelete
  63. My boy has recently gotten the hang of math concepts such as adding/subtracting and believe this teaching tool will come in useful. Hope to win this.

    Eunice Wee
    nikki_wee@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  64. We use everyday items like fruits, toy cars and even legos to help kids see the big picture! I struggle with maths lessons at home.. so this set wpuld really do wonders for my lityle girl who's entering primary school next year!
    Thank you for hosting this fab giveaway!

    Evelyn Hu
    xuelyn@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  65. ice cream stick, printables and games.
    LL
    khorleeling@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  66. my little one entering pri next yr. but is very bad in visualizing. thus with the set to help her, hopefully she will get better with her numbers.

    jia2x@yahoo.com.sg

    ReplyDelete
  67. My little ones learn best with manipulatives, yet have difficulties performing the same arithmetic with pen and paper. I hope this set can close the gap :)

    Lynn Soh
    sohlayleng@yahoo.com.sg

    ReplyDelete
  68. Learn through games.

    Louis Lee
    leechlouis@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  69. We use pictures and everyday objects to help our children visualize math problems.
    Xgg Chan
    chanxgg@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  70. Currently not doing anything to help the kids with Math. Oops.

    Delphine
    intheweehours@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  71. My children learn faster through games about math concept.

    Amie Chen
    amycpj@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  72. Noah is still learning his numbers, though we don't really make much of an effort to work on them yet. We do point out numbers when we come across them, like in the lift, but that's about it for now. This would come in really handy next time, when he's older
    Adeline / growingwiththetans@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  73. Hi,

    My girl loves to do maths while playing. She loves to be a teacher teaching her dolls using her toys, crayons. She is more a kinetic n Visual learner so enjoy doing it practically..

    Thanks for awesome giveaway..

    ashmika jain
    jainash1083@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  74. My 2 (3.5 and 5) learn through play with their toy cars and Lego bricks.

    Daniel Lim
    zionlim@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  75. Math is my favourite subject when I was in school as a student and a teacher. This will help a lot with getting the girls ready to love Math as much as I do.

    Claudia
    claudialim10@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  76. Currently my girl is learning through play and every day objects.

    Michelle
    mich.hon@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  77. Kiddos arr in the preschool level. At the level of simple maths lessons, I enjoy taking the lessons out to the real world of learning in the parks, supermarket, bus/train stations, wherever opportunities arises.

    Sharmaine
    Marveille@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  78. I don't have a favourite way, I just do whatever and whenever I remember, because math is all around us and is so important to build a foundation for them!

    mailmummyed (a) gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  79. My youngest is learning through play and ACE :)

    ReplyDelete
  80. Hi Jus, may I know if you use teacher's manual and DVD to guide you in teaching? Will you think it's necessary and important? TIA for the feedback!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there! We did purchase the manual for teaching, however, for the lower levels I think its possible to just do without and use the student workbooks to guide them through. However, I think manuals are helpful for the higher levels, if you are not sure how to teach the concepts!

      Delete
    2. Thank you Jus. :)

      Delete
  81. Hi mummy, thks for introducing us to Math U see! Have you heard of the "Singapore Math" method which is widely popular overseas? May I know why you choose Math U See over Singapore Math?
    Thks!

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...