Math Mammoth Review

We’ve tried a lot of different math products over the years. A lot. And there are very few that my kids don’t complain about – usually the ones that are “fun,” meaning game-like. When a review opportunity for Math Mammoth came up earlier this year, I had the older two (7th and 5th graders) take the placement test to figure out whether this would be a good fit for us. Color me surprised when Seahawk (7th grade) barely understood anything in a test below his official grade level. (I don’t remember offhand whether I had him take the 5th or 6th grade placement test.) I decided at that point that perhaps it would be a good idea for us to request this review in order to fill some learning gaps that apparently exist in our homeschool.

Math Mammoth review from Ladybug Daydreams

In order to work with both of the kids, I requested the Blue Series, which is a set of books (available as PDF downloads or physical print books) that focus on specific topics. We received

Seahawk has been working through the “Percent” worktext, and Munchkin has been doing “Multiplication Division 3.” I’m saving “The Four Operations” for later, and they will both do it when they’ve completed the book they’re currently working through.

Math mammoth explanation sample

A sample of an explanation section. This is the very first lesson in the Percent worktext. Click to enlarge.

Each day, I would take turns sitting with the boys in turn, working through the problems. The explanations were clear, and there was very little I needed to explain beyond what was actually in the textbook itself. The boys didn’t have any difficulty understanding what they needed to do, and they required minimal guidance from me. I was mostly there to keep them on task and see how the program worked for the purposes of being able to write the review later.

We’ve been using the texts nearly every school day for several weeks, but they still have plenty of work to do before they finish these. Seahawk is about 1/4 of the way through Percent, and Munchkin is about 1/5 of the way through Multiplication Division 3. Their slow progress isn’t because the concepts are difficult or the program bad, though. Rather, it’s because the concepts are taught and practiced so thoroughly that there are loads of problems in each section so that children can have ample opportunities to practice what they’ve learned.

A sample of problems from one lesson. This is from Multiplication Division 3. Notice that each problem has several problems within it. That's part of why it's taken us a while to work through this program.

A sample of problems from one lesson. This is from Multiplication Division 3. Notice that each problem has several problems within it. That’s part of why it’s taking us a while to work through this program. Click to enlarge.

Whenever I opened the PDF, it would remind me that “This PDF can be completed using the Add Comment tool.” I took that to mean that it was an interactive PDF, meaning that the child using the product would be able to fill in his answers right on the computer. I didn’t find this to be the case at all, and a Google search led me to looking at the settings on the PDF, which told me that it wasn’t an interactive PDF after all. I’m not savvy enough to know about the Add Comment tool or how that’s different from an interactive PDF, so we treated the PDFs like a textbook: the kids would read the information and problems on the screen and write their answers down on notebook paper kept in their binders. I could have printed the pages out for them (and I did one day when I wasn’t available to sit with them individually), but for the big picture, that would have been cost prohibitive to do all the time. In the end, the notebook-paper-approach was the right one for us.

I mentioned earlier that we’ve done a lot of different math curricula over the years. What I didn’t mention was that Math Mammoth is one of the best. Not only is it very thorough with clear explanations, but my kids don’t complain about doing it. In fact, quite the opposite has proven true: every time we finish a lesson, they tell me that they really like this curriculum. With the prices being so reasonable ($2.20 to $7.40, depending on what the book is), I can see us buying more of these. When used together, they make up a full curriculum for grades 1-7. Math Mammoth also offers an “official” full math curriculum for these grades called the Light Blue Series. I haven’t seen this, so I’m not entirely sure how it differs from the Blue Series. The Light Blue curricula costs $37.50 per year, and the final year (grade 7) is a full-fledged Pre-Algebra curriculum. Upon completion of that year, your student is ready to tackle high school level math.

Our official opinion: Math Mammoth is amazing. It teaches the concepts well, is very affordable even for families with multiple children, and is better than a regular textbook (in my kids’ opinion; I’m not sure how it differs other than that they don’t whine and moan when I announce that it’s math time). I definitely foresee us continuing to use this product in the near future.

For more information on different levels, from the Blue Series and the Light Blue series, click the banner below. That will take you to the Homeschool Review Crew blog where you can find 49 other reviews of Math Mammoth from homeschooling families who have actually used it over the past few weeks.

Blessings,

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Affordable Quality Math {Math Mammoth Reviews}
 

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Picture of the Week: Static!

When I came home from the hospital after Dragonfly’s birth in 2015, I was surprised to find a living room set. Will had spent a reasonable amount of time while I was in recovery working out the details for purchasing and moving furniture (sofa, loveseat, and two tables) into our home. (Before this, we had two chairs, which wasn’t very conducive to having company over.) We have loved having the furniture, but it does have one downfall: it holds static electricity very well. Dragonfly’s hair in this picture shows just how much.

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Have a great weekend!

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Easy Costume Accessory: Cape

Easy Costume Accessory Cape

My oldest two boys have been pretty interested in capes recently, especially Munchkin (10). It started back when Seahawk dressed as Ron Weasley for Halloween last year. It was the day of, and we hadn’t found the right cape to use as a cloak yet. We were at Goodwill, and couldn’t find anything in the costume department. Then I had a brilliant idea: a long black skirt. We found one for under $5, and within just a few minutes of getting home, we had a cape.

20170223_134355A few months later, Munchkin decided he wanted his own. I asked him if he just wanted to have Seahawk’s (since he rarely wears it), but they both said that it would be better if he had his own. So we went to Goodwill again. The good thing about this project is that you can almost always find a long black skirt for pretty inexpensive at secondhand shops. And depending on the kind of fabric the skirt is made of, it could even be a no-sew project. Of the two we’ve done so far, one has been fine without any sewing and one needed the cut edges “serged” (zigzag stitched, since I don’t have a serger) to prevent fraying.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Find a skirt the length you like. An elastic waistband is ideal. If you have one in your closet that you don’t wear anymore, this could even be a free project!
  2. Cut a straight line up the center. Leave the waistband intact; this way, the cape stays on the child quite well without the need of any pins or other sharp solution to keep it closed at the top.
  3. Finish the edges if necessary.
  4. Optional: Attach a pin (for older children) or button (for younger children, over age 3) on the former waistband (now the neck) so it looks like it’s fastened, even though that’s not necessary.
  5. Send your superhero out to play!

Blessings,

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Art from Recyclables

We have a saying in our home: “We don’t play with garbage.” Generally speaking, this applies to everything – paper trash, cans, “real” garbage, and anything in between. Around Christmastime, though, the older boys started turning paperboard boxes (think cereal) into sculptures. Munchkin started this trend with several models of the Eiffel Tower. He gifted some of them to neighbors, attached a piece of  yarn to the top of one to put on our tree as an ornament, and made a bigger one for Will’s home office. (Somehow, I’m missing pictures of the Eiffel Towers, unfortunately.)

Then Seahawk got in on the game. He made a model of the Space Needle, which now resides in his dad’s office as well.

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Finally, Munchkin made one of Big Ben.

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Since they finished the famous landmarks, they’ve moved on to making other things – primarily Star Wars ships (that’s what I’m told they are, anyway; not being into Star Wars, I don’t really know). They’ve purchased aluminum foil to make their creations “shiny,” and even though it’s messy, I like seeing their finished products.

They’ve done a really nice job with these sculptures. It’s really neat to see their creativity flow so well.

Blessings,

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Picture of the Week: Snow Ballet

It’s not actually snowy where we live anymore, but these pictures show a really fun time that Small Fry and I had back when it was white. We’d just finished building a snowman together, and he wanted to practice some of the ballet moves that Seahawk had taught him (before he’d started taking his own class, which began in mid-January). It ended up looking like he was just doing jumping jacks. But he was having a blast, and that’s the most important thing!

Snow Ballet

Have a great weekend.

Blessings,

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Review and Giveaway: The Garden by Kari Jobe

I’m not a huge music person, but I knew that when this opportunity came up, my husband would be very interested – he’s a huge fan of Kari Jobe. I was right, and since this is more his forte than mine, I’m going to let him take over the official review portion of this post. First, though, allow me to give a bit of background.

The Garden by Kari Jobe CD Review and Giveaway #flyby #thegarden

(From the vendor)
Grammy nominated Kari Jobe is the premiere female worship leader in Christian music. Coming off her last live album, Majestic, which featured the worship anthem Forever and radio hit I Am Not Alone, Kari Jobe has returned to the studio to record her new album, The Garden, full of brand new worship anthems for the church and for personal reflection. Finding inspiration from life’s joys and hardships, Kari leans into the firm foundation of Christ through it all.

And now, here is Will’s review.

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As Wendy mentioned, I was excited for the chance to get an early copy of the new Kari Jobe record. I’d first come across Kari Job after watching a Michael W. Smith video, and I liked a duet they did so much, I purchased his Sovereign album on vinyl, gave it to my dad, and purchased myself a second copy. While I work, I often run YouTube playlists of her Majestic live shows in the background and I purchased the Majestic Revisited album, which also gets steady play. It’s a tragedy that she hasn’t had a vinyl release yet. I’d be first in line.

This record is very different from Majestic Revisited in tone. I put this one in my player the moment it arrived, and listened straight through, then went back and listened again while reading the liner notes. This album is a lot more lush than the last album, but also a lot more subdued feeling. When I read the liner notes, I understood why:

The Garden is written from a place of lament. Kari Jobe writes that the album was crafted during a season of heartache and that the purpose of the new material is to shine a light on God’s goodness in our moments of despair.

This is unusual in modern Christian pop music, which tends to shy away from lament and focus on more radio friendly themes. Michael Card has commented on this as he notes that much of the scriptures are laments, and he wonders why Christian music neglects this. He’s not the only one to point this out. Fivethirtyeight.com did a complete breakdown on the blissful tenor of most Christian music which was eye-opening for me. Sometimes you don’t notice things until someone points them out for you.

Christian music used to have more laments. Rich Mullins would sing of the bittersweet nature of life and heartbreak. Keith Green would often sing of trials and sadness, especially of those he loved who shied away from God. Twila Paris’ Warrior is a Child comes to mind as another example.

These days it’s not as common.

So, from that side of things, I think the album serves an important purpose in the current music scene. But, with that in mind, it’s not a happy sounding album. If you’re looking for a pop album full of catchy songs, this is not going to do it for you. It’s not that kind of album. It has a lot of beautiful instrumentation, and Kari does a great job with the vocals. From what I’ve seen of her live shows, I can imagine that the road show will be amazing. She knows just how to stage things to really connect with certain emotions. But, these songs are not your traditional pop fare. It’s epic feeling, but there’s not a lot of hooks going on. These songs won’t get stuck in your head.

Some art (books, movies, music) catches your attention immediately. Others take a bit to get into and fully appreciate. But, sometimes, the investment pays off and you find that they become your favorites and become part of you in a way that most things never can.

This album has that potential.

If you’re looking for something a little more mature, and different than your typical Top 40 fare, put this one on. Give it more than a surface listen. Keep it in your player for awhile. The album is about The Garden. Give it time to grow.

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If you’re interested in having your very own copy of this CD, enter the giveaway below. The only requirement is to enter your email address (for contact purposes; I’ll never add you to any lists). The other options are for bonus entries only.

Blessings,

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Legal stuff:

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Specific Links for this album:

Book Club: Beric the Briton

Book Club with Lori

Regrettably, I didn’t read this book. I gave it a try, but I just couldn’t get into it; it wasn’t my style at all. I encourage you to head over to Lori’s blog and read her thoughts, though.

For the March edition, we will be doing “freestyle,” meaning that Lori and I won’t be reading the same book. I’m going to be reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, which Lori decided was too intense for her. I’m not sure what she’ll be reading. In April, we’ll be posting about John Grisham’s new book, The Whistler.

Happy Weekend!

Blessings,

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The Liebster Award

Have you heard of this? It’s a blog award that one blogger can give to another one, and my friend Wren, who blogs with her sister at Finch ‘N Wren, has bestowed this honor upon my lowly little blog here. Wren and I were members on the Homeschool Review Crew for three years (she’s moved on to other things for 2017), and she is nothing short of a delight. I hope you’ll head over to her blog and check it out.

So what does it all mean? Just that Wren thought I was deserving to be recognized. That might not sound like a big deal, but it feels like quite the honor to me, and I truly appreciate being thought of for this award. As part of the award, I’m supposed to answer some questions here on my blog, and then I get to nominate other bloggers for the award. I’ll start with the questions and move on to the nominations at the end 🙂

Do you have pets?

No. Previously in our marriage, we’ve had cats, frogs, and fish, but never more than one at a time. For now, Will and I have decided that we’d rather have children than pets, though.

If you could do one thing over from your past, with the knowledge you have now, what would it be? 

This is hard because I feel like I’ve had a pretty good life. I can think of two things, one pretty serious and one that falls more into the “fun” category.

Fun: I wish I’d learned to knit long before I did. I only learned this craft 10 months ago, and it’s by far my very favorite thing to do, hobby-wise.

Serious: As a teenager, I would’ve been nicer to my dad. My parents divorced when I was small (5), and we did whole “visiting every other weekend” thing with my dad. As I aged, I started visiting him less and less often. Now that I’m an adult, I can see that the way he behaved was simply the only way he knew to show his love, and I didn’t fully appreciate it or him. Seeing him as a grandfather to my boys has been really rewarding, and I wish I’d had the wisdom to treat him better when I was younger.

What are your three favorite comfort foods?

Mashed potatoes, beef roast (not pot roast, though), and pizza

Do you prefer ebooks or regular books?

Ebooks, so long as I can read them on my Kindle. If they’re just PDFs that have to be read on the computer, then regular books. And I know that this is an unpopular choice, but allow me to explain. I do most of my reading while lying in bed at night or nursing a baby, so it’s easier to read if I can hold the book (or “book” as the case may be) in one hand rather than having the weight of a traditional book to deal with.

The exception is children’s books. Those should always be printed.

What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?

My wedding ring for what I hope are obvious reasons 😉

What is your number one tip to make the mornings easier?

Go to bed early enough that you can get up before your children. I find it ideal to have some kid-free time in the evening with my husband and some truly alone time in the morning while everyone else is still asleep.

Also: cereal for breakfast. We need to be fed, but that doesn’t mean a complicated meal every morning. Quick and easy keeps things moving smoothly.

How did you choose your blog name?

I wanted something that was more about “me” than about a specific genre of blog. I don’t fit into a mold – I write what’s on my mind. My blog is about my family, not a certain niche, so I didn’t want a name that would force me into writing things that I wasn’t passionate about. I spent months trying to come up with something, and the only thing I could I liked was “Ladybug Dreams.” That, however, was taken (though not be an active blogger), so I tried to come up with other things I liked as well and failed. I finally mentioned to my husband my “problem,” and he came up with making it Daydreams instead of Dreams. That was available, so we jumped on it.

Fun fact: if you type in “ladybugdaydream.com” or “ladybugdream.com” you’ll find me. My husband was insistent that we buy all the related URLs we could think of (that were available) to make it as easy as possible for people to find me.

What made you decide to homeschool? 

This was something my husband and I talked about way before we even had kids. Other choices were never an option for us; we knew that we were going to have kids, and we wanted to raise them ourselves, not send them away to day care or public school. We had them because we wanted to be around them, and homeschooling was the best way to assure that connection.

Do you do meal planning by the week or month? Or not at all?

Usually weekly, but sometimes I’ll do 10 days at a time. It all depends on how the budget is lining up. When I meal plan, though, I don’t do a “Monday we’ll eat this, and Tuesday it will be that.” I make a list of 7 lunches and 7 dinners, and buy the foods we’ll need to prepare those meals. Then when it’s meal time, I cook whatever sounds good from the list. This method works really well for us because I’m able to budget the food dollars, but we’re also not stuck in a “the menu says meatloaf but I’d really rather eat fried chicken” situation.

Do you have a favorite book or movie that you just can’t imagine never reading or seeing again?

Book, not that I can think of offhand. My favorite author is John Grisham. I never miss any of his books, but I don’t have a specific favorite. Movies, there are a couple. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder one) and The Wizard of Oz come to mind. Also the Harry Potter series, but I don’t watch those very often anyway. I might miss them if they were gone, though. Same with Twilight.

5 Random Facts about Me

  • I don’t wear pants. In fact, I don’t even own any pants except for my pajamas (and I do wear those).
  • I’m surrounded by males. Besides my husband and four sons, I have two brothers (no sisters) and three father figures (dad, stepdad, and father-in-law).
  • My beverage of choice is distilled water. I buy it in one-gallon jugs. I’d consider tap water except our town has hard water and it’s gross to drink.
  • My preferred way of planning is with a monthly calendar. I have a regular sized one on the wall in the kitchen and a small one on my desk near the computer. This keeps me on track for things like reviews I have to write here on the blog and all of our family’s appointments.
  • I have small feet. My shoe size is 6.5.

Paying it Forward

As I mentioned earlier in this post, part of this award is to pass it on to other bloggers. I contacted several that I thought would be deserving, but it’s been several weeks and only one replied, so I’m going to move forward with just the one honor. I’m honoring my friend Annette, who blogs at A Net In Time. She’s on the Homeschool Review Crew with me, and is always very encouraging to the other homeschool moms on our private forum. She’s a fellow boy mom, but she has just one son. Her blog is a wonderful place full of reviews, faith based posts (hymn studies, poems, devotionals, and more), and their adventures in homeschooling. I’m thrilled to be able to honor her with this award.

Thanks again to Wren for thinking of me for this award. Please make sure to visit both her and Annette when you leave here.

Blessings,

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Pie Crust Cookies

Pie Crust Cookies Ladybug Daydreams

When I make pie crust from scratch, I always end up with scraps that aren’t really good for anything, but they seem like too much to just throw away. I came up with this easy treat to solve that problem, and my kids absolutely love these “cookies”! Simply cut the extra dough into pieces – you can use cookie cutters, but I don’t bother; I just run a pizza cutter over it to get unusually shaped squares. Then sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and bake for about 10 minutes at 425.

Enjoy!

Blessings,

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