Find here the answers to most questions concerning Math Mammoth Light Blue series (the complete curriculum). For starters, the video below explains a brief overview (basics) of the curriculum.
Download a catalog of Light Blue Series (PDF, 7.2 MB)
1. Do you have placement / diagnostic tests?
2. Is there a teacher's manual?
3a. Are there printed versions available?
3c. I hesitate to buy MM because I can't print in color. Any suggestions?
4b. Is there any advantage for buying the curriculum on a CD?
4c. Does it work on a Mac, Linux, or Chromebook?
4d. Can the PDF be filled in on the computer or tablet device (iPad or similar)?
6. What is the difference between the Blue Series and Light Blue series?
8. Are earlier concepts reviewed in later levels?
10 Are tests included? And should I score every assignment or just tests?
11. What about kindergarten math? At what age is it appropriate to start your 1st grade books?
12. Will you be writing more grade levels?
13. How far can I use the Light Blue series? Will it cover prealgebra or algebra?
17. Are there lesson plans available?
18. Is Math Mammoth aligned with any state standards?
19. Does Math Mammoth curriculum encourage the use of manipulatives?
20. How and when to use the 100bead abacus?
23. Is Math Mammoth a spiral or mastery curriculum (horizontal or vertical math)?
24. Some graphics are missing from the PDF file. Why?
25. If my child needs extra practice, could I use the Golden series worksheet collections for that?
26. What is the origin of this curriculum?
27. What do you recommend for high school math?
28. Where can I get Mathy the mascot mammoth?
29. Does the author have any mathematics or education credentials?
1. Do you have placement / diagnostic tests?
Yes. Simply click here for placement tests for all the gradelevels.
2. Is there a teacher's manual?
No. This curriculum does not contain a separate teacher's manual nor scripted lessons. The student worktext contains in the text itself explanations of the concepts, and I've tried to create a text that is as selfexplanatory as possible. Students will often be able to read and study through the lessons on their own. The parent can "get it" at the same time as the student, if they have not understood math concepts before.
Also, in the Introduction of each chapter I have included some general notes and helps for the teacher.
If you have previously used a scripted curriculum and are worried about your ability to teach with Math Mammoth, I would encourage you to try it out by purchasing one of the Blue Series topical books.
3a. Are there printed versions available?
Yes. The Light Blue series books are available as paperbacks in two stores:
On the page for each grade of Light Blue series at MathMammoth.com you will find direct links to purchase printed copies for that grade level in these two stores.
3b. Can we buy the downloads and then take them to a Kinko's or Staples type place to have the book printed up and bound nicely?
Yes. The copyright notice that is printed on page 2 specifically allows the person who purchases the book(s) to make copies — whether by Kinko's or their own printer — to his or her students, but not to other teacher's students. You can also use online printing services such as Mimeo.com, Bestvaluecopy.com, or The Homeschool Printing Company (they have the best pricing I've seen).
3c. I hesitate to buy MM because I can't print in color. Any suggestions?
1) Print in b&w, but let the child color the boxes the problems are in, using crayons.
2) Utilize the online games recommended in the notes for each chapter for the "color" (so to speak). It works for some!
Yes. You can purchase each of the grade levels of the Light Blue series on a CD at Rainbow Resource. You can buy all available grade levels on one CD at Rainbow Resource Center, or at Homeschool Buyers Coop or Educents (at special sales).
4b. Is there any advantage for buying the curriculum on a CD?
Usually no, because the CD contains the exact same files as the download. Also, if you purchase a download, you may make a backup copy of the files on a CD or on a flash drive.
However, a CD is a good option if you cannot download large files. Some people may prefer a CD so they can sell their used copy after using it, or so as to not lose track where the files are stored. Even if you purchase a CD, I recommend you make a backup copy, because CDs do not last forever.
4c. Does it work on a Mac, Linux, Chromebook?
Yes. The actual files you get (whether from a download or on a CD) are PDF or html files so Math Mammoth is compatible with Mac, Linux, Chromebook, and any other operating system where you can open PDF files.
However, you may need to install Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the PDF files correctly. For example, I've had some customers tell me that Mac's native PDF viewer shows black boxes in the files, or that many of the graphics are missing. Similarly in Linux, some images will likely be missing or messed up if you use other PDF viewers. I don't at this time have experience or feedback from Chromebook users.
For certain Math Mammoth products, you will also (just initially) need a program or app that handles zip files. A zip file is like a "package" that you will need to open in order to access the PDF files inside it. On Windows, Mac, and Linux computers, you simply rightclick the zip file, and choose "Extract" or "unzip". On a Chromebook, please see http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/3simplewayszipunzipfileschromebook/
Please note that the bonus software "SoftPak" is Windows software only. However, SoftPak is not a part of the actual curriculum and is not needed when using Math Mammoth — it is only an additional bonus.
4d. Can the PDF be filled in on the computer or tablet device (iPad or similar)?
Yes, it can. The PDF files are enabled for annotating. This means that the student can fill in the Math Mammoth PDF files on a computer (PC or Mac) or on a tablet device.
Use version 9 or greater of Adobe Reader. It has the "add text" and drawing (annotation) tools. This short video below explains how to do it using Adobe Reader version DC.
In earlier versions of Adober Reader (such as 9, 10, and 11), the "add text comment" tool looks like in this image.
For iPad, there exist several PDF apps that have annotating tools and work well for Math Mammoth files: PDF Expert ($9.99), Goodreader ($2.99), iAnnotatePDF ($9.99). You can add text, lines, and shapes, or use a stylus to write. The apps neu.AnnotatePDF ($1.99) and Notability ($2.99) work also, but are not as userfriendly as the other three.
Adobe Reader app for iPad (free) unfortunately does not allow annotating protected PDF files (such as I have to use with Math Mammoth). So, you cannot write into the PDF on your iPad with Adobe Reader (Adobe Reader for PC and Mac works great though.)
For Android devices, you might check out Xodo PDF Reader & editor.
Worktext means that the book contains both the "text" (= the explanations) and the "work" (= the problems). Simply put, the textbook and problems are in the same book. This is especially useful for homeschooling and for any kind of independent study.
6. What is the difference between the Blue Series and Light Blue series?
These two series have nearly the same lesson material. There are only a few lessons here and there that are in one series but not in the other.
The main difference is in how the material is organized. The Light Blue Series goes by grades and being a complete curriculum also includes tests & cumulative reviews. The Blue Series consists of topical worktexts, and the material in each book usually spans 23 grade levels.
So, which series you choose depends on your goals: Do you wish to have a complete curriculum for a given grade level? Go Light Blue. Do you wish to review or reteach only certain topics? Choose Blue. Do you want to cover all topics as in a full curriculum but without mentions of grade levels? Blue Series can work there as well.
7. How does the complete curriculum (Light Blue books) compare with Singapore math, MathUSee, or other popular homeschool math curricula?
Please read comparisons of Math Mammoth with other homeschool math curricula here.
8. Are earlier concepts reviewed in later levels?
To some extent, yes, but not so much as in a typical spiral curriculum. For example, I often introduce somewhat difficult topics in two grades. A few topics are "introductory" in one grade and "in focus" in the next. For example:
Topics such as place value, measuring units, geometry, clock, and money are covered over several years in a spiraling style.
The following topics are not reviewed much in later levels (mastery is expected): singledigit addition and subtraction after 1st grade, doubledigit addition and subtraction after 2nd, and reading the clock and counting coins after 3rd grade. The multiplication tables and basic division facts receive a quick review in 4th grade but not after that. I cannot list every single concept and its progression in this short space though.
9. I am concerned that there won't be enough review. Do your books have review problems that continue to review previous concepts?
First, the program includes mixed review lessons (one near the end of each chapter) and additional (separate) cumulative review lessons that you can use when needed. Both of these cover a mix of topics that have already been studied.
Scondly, you can also use the worksheet maker to generate additional worksheets for practice. This worksheet generator requires an Internet access. If you don't have Internet at home, you can use it in an Internet cafe, public library, or at a friend's house, and save the worksheets on a flash drive to print later.
Third, the introduction of each chapter lists some online games and resources, which can often be used for review.
Fourth, the curriculum includes a lot of the word problems continually, and those word problems review topics from earlier chapters, because the word problems require the usage of several concepts all at once. In other words, I have not included very many word problems that ONLY focus on the topic of the lesson at hand — most of them cover a "larger area". For example, a word problem found in a multiplication lesson might require both multiplication and addition to solve. Similarly, word problems in the other chapters (such as money, measuring, division, or fractions) will include the usage of multiplication. This is a unique feature of Math Mammoth curriculum.
Also, all the major concepts, such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, and fractions get reviewed in a sense because they are used all the time. For example, a child will keep using the multiplication tables when studying division and multidigit multiplication. The student will use various addition and subtraction strategies in word problems about money and measuring and when studying place value. Division facts are used in long division.
Lastly, we now offer supplemental Skills Review Workbooks, which provide additional review in a SPIRAL manner, matching the progression of topics in the Light Blue series curriculum.
10. Are tests included? And should I score every assignment or just tests?
Yes. There is a test for each chapter and an endofyear test to be used after each grade level. Each test includes a grading rubric. However, you don't have to follow the grading rubrics  they are provided for you just in case you want to use them.
Personally, I feel that grading needs to be done in such a manner that it doesn't discourage the child. So it really depends on the child. Some children do better if they only receive feedback about where they need to work more, how to fix errors, etc.
All grading is best accompanied with notes such as, "You worked hard and I appreciate that!" "Here you show you've learned this topic and worked hard in it," so that the emphasis is on the appreciation of the hard work and on giving feedback on specifics, and not on the actual percent score.
On the other hand, if a child is getting a "big head" (proud) over their accomplishments, you could find a really hard test so they can learn they have room to improve. But this is not nearly as common as the opposite situation where children are discouraged and think they "can't do math".
I don't recommend grading the daytoday work with percent scores or letter grades. Of course you need to find if the student made errors, but that should be sufficient.
Also, when you assign a final mark for a whole grade, don't look at only the tests but also at the overall accomplishments, the effort, etc. I like to give my children assignments outside of tests that count towards the final mark. In math, it could be for example a neatly written solution to a hard word problem, a set of definitions for geometry terms accompanied by drawings, or a description or exact instructions for a math game. Those can then go to their portfolio if you use such.
Most children in our society tend to get the idea that math is about "speed" and getting correct answers, and thus math test scores become really important to them. We need to discourage that line of thinking. See also my article on Timed tests and how it damages students learning of math.
11. What about kindergarten math? At what age is it appropriate to start your 1st grade books?
There are no Math Mammoth books for kindergarten, but I've written a fairly comprehensive article about kindergarten math to use as a guideline. You can start 1st grade once the child can write and recognize numbers, count to 20 (preferably to 30 or beyond), has mastered basic concepts of equivalence, more, and less; and has a basic idea of addition.
Sometimes kindergartenage children start with MM 1A and there's one topic there that can become a frustration point if the child is not ready for it. It's the topic of "missing items" or missing numbers in addition problems, such as 2 + ___ = 5, or even simpler: 2 + ___ = 3. The idea is to ask the child, "2 and how many more makes 3?" Objects can also be used.
This particular lesson, "Missing Items," is fairly early in 1A. If this lesson presents problems for your child, then he/she is not ready for 1st grade math. In that case, you could get one of the recommended kindergarten workbooks for the child and wait a month or a few months before trying again.
12. Will you be writing more grade levels?
Math Mammoth Light Blue series goes up to prealgebra (grade 7). I will not be writing more levels beyond that. Please read my ideas and recommendations for kindergarten and high school math.
13. How far can I use the Light Blue series? Will it cover prealgebra or algebra?
Math Mammoth Grade 7 is designed to be a prealgebra curriculum. It covers integers, linear equations, slope, ratios, proportions, percent, the Pythagorean Theorem, geometry, statistics, and probability. After completing Math Mammoth grade 7, students can continue to algebra 1.
14. How do I pace the Light Blue curriculum? How many pages or worksheets per day should the child do?
For pacing, check how many actual lesson pages there are to study (this is mentioned on the web page of the book, below the cover image), and how many days of school you have in mind. Then to get how many pages per day you would need to study, divide the number of pages by the number of days. The user guide for each grade has this information also.
Assuming you have school 5 days a week, about 40 weeks a year, the student should study between 1 and 2 pages each day. If you homeschool for less than 200 days a year, you will probably need to study 2 or more pages a day. Please allow some time also for tests and cumulative reviews.
For example:
Grade level  Page count  Number of days in your school year 
Number of days for tests and reviews 
Pages to study per day 
Pages to study per week 
1st grade  249  200  20  1.38  6.92 
2nd grade  281  200  20  1.56  7.81 
3rd grade  321  200  20  1.78  8.92 
4th grade  353  200  20  1.96  9.81 
5th grade  346  200  24  1.97  9.83 
6th grade  323  200  20  1.79  8.97 
7th grade  463  200  22  2.6  13 
So as a general guideline, about 1 1/2 pages a day is sufficient for grades 12, about 1 3/4 pages for grade 3, 46th graders should aim to do about 2 pages a day, and 7th graders about 2 1/2 pages. However, you need to pace it depending on how the lessons go. Sometimes your student might be able to do several pages in a day, and sometimes the student cannot do but one page. Also, in some topics you might be able to go through the pages quicker, for example in the chapters about clock, because the clock pictures are so large that one page does not have many problems.
15. How will I know when to review with computer games or worksheets rather than continuing? How will I know when to take a break and review an old concept so it will not be lost? Is this type of review incorporated in the program?
A curriculum that "spells" out in exact detail what the teacher is to do is called a "scripted curriculum". I simply have not had time nor the energy to build Math Mammoth to be scripted. Instead, Math Mammoth gives the teacher various tools, such as the main wortext, links to games, additional worksheets, and cumulative reviews & tests, but I have not spelled out what exactly should be done, or when, or how.
Basically, this is how you can get started. Start out using the student worktext and over the course of 12 weeks observe how much your child can handle daily  it might be 12 pages, maybe 1 1/2, maybe just 1, depending on age, maturation level, etc. Then map out your school year, and see also the answer #14 in this faq.
As far as when to use additional resources, I would say that when you go on with the worktext and it seems to go too quickly, then that is one SIGN that you should use additional worksheets and games.
Another sign: let's say you finish some chapter and go on. Then in the next chapter there are WORD PROBLEMS that require knowledge or concepts that were taught in the previous chapter, say multiplication or perimeter. If your child has great difficulty with those kinds of word problems, then it might be time to review the particular concept or skill. I have always striven to make the word problems progressively so that they involve concepts and skills studied in earlier chapters.
Then there are matching cumulative reviews for each chapter that you could assign near the end of the chapter, or middle, or however you like. Those will also give you an indication if a child has forgotten something.
One other possibility is that whenever the exercise set has lots of problems, just assign 2/3 of them or 1/2 of them. Then a week (or few weeks) later assign some of the rest for review.
But in a nutshell, Math Mammoth does better suit parents and teachers who are able to follow the child's mathematical progress just from the way the child solves the various problems in the worktext. However, I truly feel that is the BETTER way to go about it, and that all teachers eventually, with experience, gravitate away from scripted curricula.
16. For drilling the addition and substraction tables should we just go over each lesson over and over until she memorizes her tables?
First of all, you should go through the books and check that she knows all the concepts related to addition and subtraction.
To learn the facts, go carefully over those lessons that present fact families and number rainbows. These provide the structure and a context for learning the facts so that they are not learned as separate, random things.
Then, once she thoroughly understands fact families and the pattern in the number rainbow, you can move on to other math topics such as place value, geometry, etc. but keep up the facts practice a few minutes a day with games, worksheets, and flash cards.
These basic facts are also used a lot even when studying place value and other topics, so that helps kids remember them too.
17. Are there lesson plans available?
In collaboration with Homeschool Buyers Coop, we have developed a type of "lesson plans" for the calendar planner product sold by the coop, titled Homeschool Planet. These lesson plans pace the Math Mammoth curriculum, assigning certain pages to be done on each day, along with instructional videos and Internet resources (games, quizzes, animations) that match the lessons. Then, Homeschool Planet allows you some flexibility. For example, you choose how many days a week math is studied or on which date to start the lesson plan. You can also "push forward" all the remaining days in the plan if you miss a day, and do similar things.
You can order these lesson plans here. The price is $9.95 per grade; discounted bundles are available.
Please note: You will need the calendar product Homeschool Planet before you can use these plans.
18. Is Math Mammoth aligned with any state standards?
Grades 17 meet and exceed the Common Core Standards. Please see this FAQ for more information.
19. Does Math Mammoth curriculum encourage the use of manipulatives?
For the most part, the curriculum does not specifically emphasize manipulatives but visual models. The exercises with visual models COULD be done equally with manipulatives (beans/counters, base ten blocks, fraction manipulatives, etc.)
The exception is the 100bead abacus, which I feel is needful for first grade. (The other option would be base ten blocks.) I feel that it is essential that kindergartners and first graders have the opportunity to learn tens and ones (place value) using some manipulative.
On each of these pages you will see a list of needed manipulatives for grades 13. You need to scroll down the page a bit.
20. How and when to use the 100bead abacus?
The only way the abacus is used in my books is as a simple counting frame, where each bead counts as ONE. Nothing fancy. It is NOT used like Chinese, Russian, or any of the other abaci where one bead might count as 5, 10, or 100.
A 100bead abacus (or school abacus or a counting frame) simply contains 10 beads on 10 rods, a total of 100. In the school abacus, each bead simply represents one. The 100bead abacus lets children both "see" the numbers and make them using their fingers (kinesthetic learning).
First and foremost, the abacus is used in the place value section in 1st grade where children learn about tens and ones (numbers up to 100). We use it to show clearly how 45 is made up of 4 tens and 5 ones, for example.
Secondly, you can use the abacus with addition and subtraction problems in 1st and 2nd grades. For example:
The purpose is mainly to help children to visualize twodigit numbers, and to add and subtract twodigit numbers.
The goal in my books is to drop the abacus by 3rd grade. Even before that, students use visual models, and from those go on to the abstract. The quicker the child can use visual models, and then do the math problems without any models, the better.
See also these ideas on how to use the 100bead abacus.
At Amazon you can find Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Abacus at Amazon for around $12. An abacus or counting frame where the beads alternate colors by fives is even more useful. TIP: If you get a regular abacus with 10 beads the same color, paint a thin white line on the right side of bead #5 and also on the left side of bead #6 on each row (counting from the left). This will make it easier to see 5 and 5 on each row.
Browse Amazon's abacus selection here. Other stores carry abaci as well.
You can also use this virtual abacus (Click the + symbol to add rows of beads). Or, make your own abacus. Just don't make it exactly like they show on that web page but instead use 10 bamboo skewer with 10 beads in each so you get a 10 x 10 abacus.
Here's an image of a homemade abacus one of my customers made using bamboo skewers, craft sticks, and beads:
21. My son is doing 4A and having trouble with the word problems. I'd like him to get more practice with them. Is there a place to get more worksheets for word problems?
Word problems in Math Mammoth 4 are no longer simple onestep word problems, and that is why they may appear difficult to a child, especially if the child has not used Math Mammoth before. If children do lots of word problems from early on, and the problems increase in difficulty, they won't find them that difficult later on.
Whether you look at the Blue or Light Blue series, the child gets to do lots of word problems from the very beginning. In first grade, the problems are either addition or subtraction problems, and mostly onestep problems. However, already in second grade, most of them require at least two steps. Children who do not encounter multistep word problems in their math curriculum (from grade 2 on) can have difficulty transitioning into Math Mammoth.
To remedy, you could have your child solve word problems from the earlier levels of Math Mammoth. Go back to first grade word problems if necessary, and build up from there. You could have the child solve several problems a day alongside your regular math, or take a break and just do word problems for a few weeks.
Please read this article to help you further understand the issue with word problems and to find further resources to help.
22. We are using the Light Blue Grade 1A. The kids ran into their first Puzzle Corner. I love it! However, it was pretty difficult for them. Should I give them more of those for practice before we move on?
The puzzle corners are meant to be challenging so don't worry if it was difficult. You don't have to "practice" them as such because they are not something that the children absolutely have to master. They have several purposes: to challenge children to think, and also to inspire them about mathematics. There are more coming later in the curriculum.
If you notice the puzzle corners start discouraging the children, please skip them or don't require them to get the right answer... that defeats their purpose. The idea is to get them try to solve something challenging, even if the don't get the correct answer. The thinking process and the trying is the important part.
That said, you can find more practice if you google "math puzzles for kids". But don't force the children to have to do puzzles... try instead encourage them to do them so that they would learn to LOVE the challenging of their minds. For that to happen, you MUST not put down mistakes or failures, but emphasize how good it is that they work hard... EVEN IF they don't get the answer.
Please also read this article of mine: The value of mistakes.
You can have a puzzle day once in a while where you present them other challenging problems. Check this list of additional word problem websites.
At any rate, do not stop there at the curriculum but just move on.
23. Is Math Mammoth a spiral or mastery curriculum (horizontal or vertical math)?
Math Mammoth is basically a masterybased curriculum. Some topics are studied till mastery within one and the same chapter. Examples of such topics include regrouping 2digit numbers in subtraction (2nd), multiplication tables (3rd), and long division (4th).
However, often the topic is present in two (or even three) neighboring grades. Examples include: equivalent fractions (both 4th and 5th grade), percent (6th and 7th), factoring (4th and 5th). Some topics are "developed" to mastery over several grades, going from simple to more complex; for example reading the clock (grades 13), counting coins (grades 13), fraction arithmetic (grades 45), decimal arithmetic (grades 45).
So, you could call Math Mammoth a masteryoriented program with some spiraling over the grades. It does NOT employ a "tight" or "short" spiral where the same topic would be present, say, every 10 lessons, or dozens of times within the same school year.
24. Some graphics are missing from the PDF file. Why?
This is a common problem in Mac computers. If it some images are missing , download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader for Mac from this link, and open the PDF files in it, instead of in Mac's native PDF viewer.
Another possible problem is that some graphics/images will not print on a Mac. Try the "Print as image" option in the "advanced" section of the printer window, and see if that helps.
25. If my child needs extra practice, could I use the Golden series worksheet collections for that?
First of all, keep in mind that Math Mammoth curriculum comes with a free worksheet maker, which allows you to make worksheets for most of the topics in the curriculum (though not for all, for example not for word problems).
The problem with using the Golden series worksheets collections is that they were written in 2006 to match the then Virginia standards, whereas the Light Blue series follows Common Core. So, the Golden series collection won't have all the topics that the Light Blue series has in any grade, and vice versa. The Golden series books still have lots of good practice problems but you can't count on finding problems for all the topics in the corresponding level of Light Blue series.
Besides the free worksheet maker provided with the curriculum, you could also use Khan Academy because in the past few years they've added lots of interactive practice problems following the Common Core, so those will match the topics in Math Mammoth Light Blue series fairly well. They do have some word problems even. You may not find challenging problems there though. To find the problem sets, you need to go to www.khanacademy.org/commoncore/map, not to their regular home page.
Then there are companies that provide practice problems for all possible topics in a particular grade (subscriptionbased), for example www.ixl.com.
26. What is the origin of this curriculum?
Math Mammoth books had their start at around 2002, when I (Maria Miller) was tutoring homeschooling children, and noticed the difficulties their parents had in explaining mathematics.
I initially wrote books for certain topics, and later those books gave rise to the Blue Series books you can see on this site.
I always designed the lessons in the books so that they would teach BOTH the parent and the child the processes and concepts of elementary math. Thus, the books contain very clear explanations, lots of visual exercises and pattern exercises that help children see the structure of mathematics and clearly understand the concepts of mathematics, instead of just memorizing rules.
Ample practice for computation is not forgotten either. Word problems abound.
The complete curriculum had its start in 2007, when I was asked to combine my books into material that could be sold by grade levels.
27. What do you recommend for high school math?
Please read my advice for high school math here.
28. Where can I get Mathy the mascot mammoth?
You can get Mathy at Amazon.com. Check out also some mammoth coloring and dottodot pages we have here!
29. Does the author have any mathematics or education credentials?
Yes. I have a master's degree in mathematics (1997) after studying 5 years in the university of Joensuu, Finland, and one term in the University of Nottingham, UK. My degree includes minors in physics and statistics, and the educational studies required to become a teacher (in Finland).
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