Well our Internet had trouble over the weekend so I got crafty. I made a curtain (without a clear idea of how to actually put it up) and some cutesy things as thank you gifts to our tutors at CC. It was fun and it is always nice to have something DONE. It also made me realize just how addicted I am to the Internet. It was driving me crazy that I couldn't just look up a recipe, or a craft idea or whatever. I also went to bed at 8 pm last night - that rarely happens if the Internet is working.
All that to say, the weekly resource is belated.
We have been using Math Mammoth for a year and a half now. In terms of straight forward math it is as good as it gets on paper. She starts new lessons with pictoral representations of the math concept (unit squares and ten bars) and instructs the children to cross out/ add, etc. I appreciate that she isn't trying to use cutesy pictures for every problem but is using symbols similar to Montessori. From there the kids are encouraged to draw their own representations if needed and then they work on doing the problem in their head - without a picture. This is the progression of good math lessons.
Instructions are included in the student worktext so there isn't a separate teacher's manual. The student (with parent help if needed) is expected to read the information and work on solving the problems. My son "gets" math so he typically just skips using the representations and just does the problem. I expect my second son will probably use them more frequently,
She does include a few word problems and has started throwing in more "distractions" to ensure that the children are picking out the relevant information. My son loves the puzzles. The review information at the end of the chapter is helpful and the quiz/test follows a similar format. She also covers clock time, calendar, counting money, measuring and similar concepts that are math but not straight addition and subtraction. I am glad to have a "test" that I can give in math - although I really don't do tests in our other subjects.
This is not a program with manipulatives or one that requires lots of parent assistance. It doesn't necessarily encourage a creative use of math. At the beginning of each chapter she does include some games and websites that might provide some more "fun" math experiences. Honestly, I like that it is a straight forward core and then I can add what I want to it. She does follow the more typical pattern of teaching addition and subtraction then moving into multiplication and division (as opposed to Montessori). We haven't gotten to the parts that teach multiplication and beyond yet.
We plan to use the Light Blue Series until the end. I also like it because I can print a new set of workbooks for each of my boys without paying more. Right now (until Dec. 2., 2013) you can get a 28% discount on the program. This program is also featured on homeschool buyers coop fairly frequently and can be as much as 50% off. There are other parts of her program that help cover specific topic areas or needs, but we haven't used those. If my kids were in school and struggling with a particular concept or I wanted to have an easy way to review information over the summer I would probably use these resources in that situation.