I’m guessing you’re here because you’re looking for a homeschool math curriculum, and you wanted to see a review of Math U See. Then you’re in the right place. We used Math U See for seven years, and I loved it (mostly) all seven years we used it. I first wrote this Math U See curriculum review about halfway through using it for kindergarten, which is why all of the pictures are of my kids adorably small. They are no longer small, and honestly, you probably wouldn’t use the word adorable. You don’t really describe teens as adorable, or I don’t. As I update this review, I’m going to be adding in my 2020 hindsight comments.
(there are affiliate links in here, and just to be clear I wrote this review completely on my own)
Let’s start this Math U See review
I had this review mostly written and then realized there were some introductory statements I wanted to make.
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.
Future Ticia update, I did briefly use Saxon math for part of 3rd grade and it did not work for our learning style. Saxon math has daily mini-lessons, which are completely different from Math U See, which has one longer video lesson at the start of the week. My kids were not used to this style of teaching, and honestly, it was such a different style it went horribly. I do still like the daily calendar and review time Saxon Math has.
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.
We also briefly used Singapore Math in 3rd grade after the Saxon Math debacle. The lessons progressed in a way I was not understanding, and we were all immensely frustrated with the lessons. I completely admit we probably didn’t give it a fair shake because at that point we just wanted to head back to Math U See.
Why I was looking at Math U See
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.
What you need for Math U See
Each part of Math U See 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.
Future Ticia 2020 here, some stuff you buy once, and others you will have to rebuy each year.
The first thing you should buy is a set of blocks. This is the starter set in the picture. 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.”
While you could technically use Math U See without the blocks, but the whole curriculum is designed around using the blocks. It’s very tactile, and this is why I initially chose Math U See.
They really emphasize hands-on learning. 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, and so on.
Future Ticia 2020, the Math U See blocks were a big part of our elementary years. I eventually bought the completer set and the fraction overlays. We did not use the fraction overlays as much, but we used those towards the end of our time with Math U See, and for at least my daughter, I think that was a poor decision. The hands on aspect really helped them cement how it works.
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. Whereas 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.
What a week’s worth of lessons look like
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.
Future Ticia 2020, later lessons can get longer, but the lessons are at most 15 minutes long.
The workbook itself. It’s not super colorful, so if your kid needs lots of colors, 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.
For each lesson there are 6 worksheets, and then a quiz. They are “numbered” with letter from A-F. The first three lessons are straight up the material in that week’s lesson. Pages D-F cover the material from the lesson, and then have about 5 or so problems that review previous lessons.
This was actually added in to address a problem of Math U See, where you would cover a concept and never see it again. Now they have review material. Later on, like after Kindergarten, they add in word problems.
After the worksheets, you take a test.
More stuff you can get for Math U See
- 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. Future Ticia says, this was not worth it and we barely listen to it.
- 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. Totally worth buying. Especially if you have more than one kid using the blocks
- Fraction overlays- You need this for the fraction level of Math U See, so you won’t need it for five years
- Digital Set- I know nothing about this, because this is new, but it can be a cool one for a tech savvy family
- I think there are some other online stuff you can get
Math U See 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 is 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 their 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.
Future Ticia 2020 final thoughts
We used Math U See for the whole elementary series all the way through Zeta. I then transitioned to Teaching Textbooks because I found grading their math tiring. Princess is now using Life of Fred Math and super loves it.