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.

12 thoughts on “Our Review of Math U See

  1. I know many families who use Saxon Math, it's known as one of the best Math books around. I have only heard complaints about its repetitiveness.

    Another one I use to use was MCP math, but we homeschoolers can't buy it anymore. Well except through Christian Liberty Press, because MCP will not sell their products to anyone but a school organization.

  2. Thanks for this review! We still plan to go to good old public school in 2 years, but Anna is quite interested in math with manipulatives and toys. In fact, I wish Lego blocks were a bit more varied in their length – they would almost qualify as those counting blocks. I might still pick them up just for the fun on it without a curriculum attached.

  3. First of all, I've had nights of thinking too, so I know how you are feeling after a night of that (and I hope all is OK). Secondly, this is one of the best curriculum reviews I've read, so thank you. You know I'm not running out any buying any curriculum any time soon, but when/if I do I'll definitely keep this in mind. I followed everything you were saying and I think my opinions would be similar to yours. Thank you!!

  4. Excellent review. I have the same feelings about MUS, I can't get used to the way they count. I think it is a great program, just something that would drive me nuts. hehe

    We will be sticking with Saxon just as I did the first time. I may add in some Singapore along the way. But I was very happy with Saxon the first time.

  5. Thanks for the review! My brothers used Saxon in their homeschooling, and Mom thought it was so great she ordered a book for Aunt LoLo and I to work on over the summer a few times- we took it on vacations and everything.

    Sorry you're not sleeping!! I KNOW how frustrating that is 😛

  6. I just hopped on over to your blog from the Montessori Monday link on One Hook Wonder and wanted to let you know I am following your blog now.

    Thank you for the great review of the math curriculum. My children are still young (I have a 3 year old, a 19 month old and one on the way), but I do want to get a handle on what is out there for different curriculum. We are in Pa so we don't have to be official for homeschooling until they are 8, so we are not planning on official curriculum til then. But it is interesting to see the Math U See being reviewed as it is one based on the Mastery, because others I know have used Horizons and I am told that is a Spiral approach.

    If you get a chance, my blog is:
    http://totsandme.blogspot.com/ I would love to have you stop on by.
    God bless

  7. Thanks!! I have wanted to see a review like this on MUS for a while now.

    I have ordered Singapore and Life of Fred (the latter only for Hanna), I will compare both and choose one for Hanna, but plan to use Singapore for Joe.

    We'll see how it goes! I really went back and forth for Joe on Singapore vs. MUS.

    I hear you on not sleeping too!

  8. Thank you for this thorough review! I haven't seen Math U See but been curious about it. I'm going to a conference in April and check out all the materials and see if it's right for us down the line. I do love the manipulatives your kids are using!

    Can you add this to our math link?

    As for sleep, I get the same way when I have something on my mind…these days is JC's birthday party!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s