Math U See |Review of Levels: Primer and Up
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Before Math U See…
Before we were introduced into the magical world of Math U See, my kids were using Abeka’s Arithmetic curriculum. Although I appreciated Abeka’s straightforward method of teaching some concepts (Place value is one of them), I felt Abeka’s focus was more on memorizing math facts rather than on understanding the hows and whys. Word problems suddenly appeared in the Arithmetic 1 book but with no teaching strategies to solve them.
Many 1st-graders are still learning how to read with confidence and understand what they read. They were suddenly expected to read a word problem and find the data needed to solve it, all without teaching any solving strategies beforehand. That’s A LOT to ask of kids of that age! Sure there are some kids who are naturally good at sorting out info even as beginner readers, but that wasn’t our case so Abeka Math wasn’t a winner for us.
Math U See – Our Math Saving Grace.
I strongly believe it is very important for math to be taught from the early years by teaching kids Analytical & Critical thinking together with Problem-solving skills. Math-U-See has been our Saving Grace for math. Everything we were missing from Abeka Arithmetic we got it with Math U See and even more! A simple, straightforward, hands-on, mastery teaching DVD program, that makes learning math concepts easy. Whether a child is an auditory, visual or tactile learner, this program could easily cater to all. It gives these young learners a great foundation explaining all the WHYs and HOWs that we desperately needed to SEE! 🧐
If you are looking for a math curriculum to focus only on one concept at a time, giving the student a chance to fully master each and every concept before bombarding the brain with more and more, then look no further, you have found your home with Math-U-See!
“When using Math-U-See, kids learn “to SEE” each and every step of math, learning to think logically, strategically and sometimes unconventionally, preparing the child for upper-level math critical and creative thinking from the early years”.
I could not imagine teaching upper-level math if I wasn’t using this program. I can honestly say I am confident Math U See will not only teach our kids math but also make them excel at it too. After going through 4 levels between 2 kids, I can confidently say we will never use any other math curriculum. Many parents are thrown off by the sequence of this program and believe their kids are “behind” compared to what kids in public school are learning. First of all, have you heard the insanity of public school’s common core elementary math? For that alone I couldn’t be more grateful we are homeschooling.
The Mastery Method.
Math U See is a mastery-based program which means it focuses on one concept at a time for each level. Coming from a spiral approach with our previous math curriculum, Mastery was just what we needed. Each level of Math U See focuses on one math concept for the full duration of each level (30 lessons). I have found this method to be highly effective for our children and we have gone thru levels Primer through Gamma twice already with 2 of my children, with one more round to go with my youngest son.
With weekly video lessons, Math U See takes the stress of teaching math away from the parents and places it into Mr. Demme’s capable hands. There is truly no better math teacher out there I would rather my kids learning math from!
You can move through each level as fast or as slow as your child needs you to. In general, our approach is to watch the video lesson together (my sons & I), and then depending on the difficulty of the lesson they’ll complete between 1 to 3 worksheets a day for 5 days. Yes, Math is one of our core subjects we do every school day.
We have only skipped a few pages here and there in Primer and Alpha but in general, our children complete all worksheets. I don’t force them to do this, to the contrary, I’d like to move on once I see they’ve mastered their lesson. My children, however, once they grasp a concept they feel empowered to be able to easily and correctly complete their worksheets, it’s rewarding for them. I think seeing me looking over their work and making no corrections makes them feel accomplished, so I let them, why not!
As we move up the MUS levels, there have been lessons (in Gamma) that required us to take a slower approach and only complete one worksheet per day at times. How do I decide how fast or slow I should move? Usually, if I see my children take a long time to get through a worksheet I don’t make them complete more than one a day. In general, this has only happened a handful of times but no matter how often this will happen I want my kids to LOVE math and I believe this approach will help.
Why we do Math year round
We do math year round but we don’t school read round, are you confused yet?🙃 After 2 years of taking a summer break from all school work, I realized once we came back to math and reading, I wanted to cry more than my children wanted to. Saying they were rusty is an understatement. Saying it was like someone had hypnotized them, and erased all memory is more like it. Needless to say, I learned my lesson and decided to continue math throughout the summer.
Before you begin thinking I’m a Cruella🧙♀️, I’d like to point out our summer schedule is much lighter than during the school year. I only have my kids to do one worksheet a day and we do take days off here and there. We don’t strictly keep a 5 day a week schedule as we do during the school year. Our summer math allows my children to keep math current and fresh in their minds, but also helps me not feel stressed during the year when we need to slow down for a difficult lesson.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need the DVD to teach this program?
In my opinion, Absolutely! The instructor DVD has all the lessons taught by Mr. Demme. By watching these video lessons you’ll learn how to teach math using the Math U See way. Technically these DVDs are meant for the parent to watch on their own and then teach the lessons to their kids. However, the reality is, many families (we included) watch these video lessons together with our children as Mr. Demme teaches math much better than we could ever do.🤩
2. Is the Teacher Manual needed if using the DVD?
Well, Yes and no. From Primer to Gamma I’ve never used the teachers manual for additional instructions on how to teach the lessons presented on the DVDs. In levels Beta and especially in Gamma, I’ve used the answers key in it to check my son’s work when it came to his multi-digits addition and multiplication. In conclusion, whether you buy new or used, Teacher Manual and DVD are sold together, so take them both because they are worth it.
3. Can I use any math manipulatives or do I need the Math U See ones?
This program is written to use in conjunction with its own manipulatives. Every number is represented by a certain color and number block that kids learn to visualize to help them grasp a concept and with mental math. The MUS manipulatives will be used a lot during Primer, a bit less in Alpha & Beta, and we have only used them once in Gamma. (keep in mind every child is different and some might use and need them more than others). So why even bother buying them you might wonder? The times these manipulatives are to be used are fundamental to lay the solid math learning foundations Math U See is known for. Using the MUS manipulatives, aids students in grasping (and master) many concepts taught throughout this curriculum, giving them a chance to “SEE” while they learn. Also, hold on to those blocks because I hear in Algebra kids will be using them often again!
4. In what level should I place my child if switching from a different math curriculum?
Math U See has a great placement test found on their website. For students who have been using a different math curriculum and are planning to begin using Math U See, this placement test is a great tool to help pinpoint what is the right level for students to begin. (Find here the Math U See – Placement Test link). After taking the placement test, it is also a good idea to call their customer service dept to confirm and/or discuss your placement test results.
When I finally took the leap of faith and switched over to MUS, I followed the above process and the wonderful lady who answered the phone was very helpful and encouraging. We were placed at the Beta level and we have had math happiness ever since!
5. Where to buy Math U See? Do they ever have any sales?
Buying Math U See curriculums, whether is the full curriculum set or just student books, can be done on many different websites with little to no cost difference other than the shipping cost. When buying directly from the Math U See website, shipping will be free for any purchase of $30 and over. In addition, MUS offers a 10% off for active military personnel (No veterans discount 😢💔). Christianbook.com also sells MUS books and they usually have a free shipping code for purchases of $35 and up. RainbowResources.com offers free shipping on any orders over $50. Math U See is not offered for sale through Amazon anymore other than for some second-hand books. In general, this curriculum never goes on sale other than some damaged or clearance items you can find at times on the Math U See clearance web page.
Now that we have an idea of what Math U See is about, its approach to teaching math, and of how it could be scheduled, let’s review each level we have completed. Please know, I will be updating this post each time we complete a new level of MUS until we will have a full review of ALL the levels. If you’d like to be informed when my next review is posted, you can subscribe to my blog and we will send you an email when a new review is posted.
Primer is an introduction to math and the only level of Math U See that doesn’t require mastery. In this level, kids will learn:
- Some number formation
- Understand how numbers show quantities
- Learn and practice the number value of each block
- Place value
- Counting up to 100 (some kids might be able to count all hundred numbers if they truly understand the place value concept)
- Skip counting by 2, 5, 10
- Additions (+1, +2, +5, +10, adding doubles, making 10)
- Beginning to do simple word problems
- Tally marks
When my son started to use Math U See – Primer level in Kindergarten, he had no math experience and background. As I explained in my post “Homeschooling Preschool“, we chose not to begin Formal Education until our children were of Kindergarten age. My son was almost 6-yrs-old when beginning MUS Primer and this program did a wonderful job gently introducing him to math and building his confidence. My kindergartner was able to grasp and master every concept (place value was the hardest) and finished the Primer level in 5 months.
Primer level is the only Math U See level where students are not required to master in order to move on to the next level. With that said, maybe because my son was a bit older and a bit more mature, he had mastered every single concept taught by the time he finished his workbook. Admittedly, when the time to teach Place Value arrived, I doubted my decision to use this program. Be prepared it’s a completely different approach that at first, might make you curl-up your nose and ask why in Heaven sake are we teaching place value this way?
My word of advice as someone else told me: “Trust in the process”. Truly I tell you, trust in the process and put aside all place value understanding you’ve had before. Allow this video lesson to teach you the Math U See way of Place Value. It’s not an easy lesson, but it’s a lesson where all math concepts are based upon. “EVERY NUMBER HAS A PLACE”, I still use this teaching from this Primer lesson with my son who’s now in Gamma. I had to first understand this lesson myself and put aside any of my feelings about Mr. Demme’s method of teaching this, before being able to help my son grasp Place Value and maybe a few other concepts.
Can PRIMER be skipped and begin from ALPHA?
Over and over again I see parents asking about Primer and if it’s a necessary level. I believe since Primer doesn’t require mastery and every concept is repeated in the Alpha level, many parents feel why even bother. Well, I believe my son would not love math today if it wasn’t that we began with the Primer level. Yes, sure everything he was introduced to was then repeated in Alpha, but what a boost of confidence that was for him!
“Completing the Primer level prepared my child to easily and successfully navigate and master the Alpha level”.
α ALPHA level
In Alpha, students will learn and master all of their single digits Additions and Subtractions.
- Place Value
- Learn and practice the number value of each block;
- Number names recognition
- Counting & Skip Counting by 2, 5, 10
- All Additions & Subtractions facts (kids do not learn “carrying or borrowing” in the Alpha level)
- Solving for the unknown
- Basic shape recognition
- Word Problems and Introduction of solving 2-step word problems
- Clock (Hours and minutes).
1) Additions. As I explained above when reviewing the Primer level, once my son moved on to Alpha it was smooth sailing all along. Instead of having kids memorize addition families as other Arithmetic curriculums do, Math U See teaches kids “addition strategies”.
Mr. Demme’s “tips & tricks”, help students learn how they can get to the answer instead of memorizing their answers.
In time, kids will naturally remember all of their addition facts but by teaching kids (for example how to add 9 to any number), truly takes the memorization stress factor away from kids. I realized as we were learning each lesson, Mr. Demme’s addition strategies were very similar to how I do my own additions, making mental math very clear and easy.
2) Subtractions. If a child truly masters his addition facts while doing their Alpha lessons, moving on to subtractions in the second half of this level will be a breeze. After my son learned all of his addition facts, moving on to the subtractions was so easy and natural he NEVER had to even watch one video lesson or needed any teaching. Because he had visualized so well what numbers add up to, he immediately knew the difference between 2 numbers. My advice once again for all parents out there using or planning to use Math U See is to trust the process because it definitely works!
“In general, kids will finish the Alpha level having well mastered all single-digit additions & subtractions”. ➕➖
β BETA level
This level focuses on teaching students strategies on how to add and subtract multiple-digit numbers.
- The sequence of numbers (before & after)
- Comparing numbers using <, >, =
- Rounding & Estimate to the nearest (10, 100, 1000)
- Place Value Notation (246= 200+40+6)
- Money (skip counting coins, adding & subtracting money)
- Measuring units (Inches, Feet, Yards)
- Learning how to measure (applying what they have learned to find Perimeters of shapes)
- Pints, Quarts, Gallons and their relation.
- Ounces and Pounds (oz., lbs)
- Adding multiple digit numbers and how to carry over.
- Subtracting multiple digit numbers (kids learn “borrowing” in this level)
- Clock (In this level kids will learn again Minutes & Hours, with a focus on learning Telling Time)
- Cardinal numbers with a focus on (days of the week, months of the year, some tally marks practice)
- How to read Gauges and Graphs. (here students will also learn how to read a thermometer)
Is it just me, or has anyone else had a horrible time trying to teach their kids the Clock? Well, If you have struggled to teach your children how to tell time stress no more, Math U See got this covered! Together with many other wonderfully explained concepts, our children have mastered while using this level, I have to admit Telling Time is one of my favorites. The Clock and Telling Time is explained the best and only way I’ll ever attempt to teach my kids how to tell time. It is also worth mentioning, all measuring methods taught in this level are wonderfully explained and easily mastered by kids.
I’m currently on my second round of teaching the Beta level with our second born and we have found Mr. Demme’s teachings easy to follow with the exception of “regrouping”. In Beta, “regrouping” is the term Math U See uses when explaining how to carry over in additions. My eldest son moved on to Math U See in the Beta level, and he had already learned “place-value” and “carrying” using a different method. Because of this, Math U See “regrouping” method was rather more confusing than helpful to him.
My second-born, however, has used Math U See since the Primer level and can probably follow Mr. Demme’s regrouping video lessons better. I personally find all the block “grouping and regrouping” showed in these lessons a bit hard to follow myself. With that said, some children can most definitely benefit from the visual concept that is shown in these videos. Other children (like mine), would do better without watching the video and learn “carrying” by just us parent explaining it to them.
“In general, children will finish the Beta level having become little additions and subtractions wiz”. 🤓🔢
γ GAMMA level
Gamma is the level which is usually tackled in 3rd-grade and it solely focuses on multiplications. I found Math U See‘s timing of introducing multiplications impeccable. By waiting till 3rd grade, MUS gives kids time to grow and mature enough so most students will be fully prepared to not only grasp multiplication but master this fundamental and sometimes tedious concept.
- Skip counting for all numbers (2 through 9)
- Times Tables from 0 through 10 (how to multiply 11 is taught but not as a whole lesson itself)
- How to find the area of a square or rectangle (the concept of square ft is also explained and learned in this level)
- tsp/TBSP are explained and covered when learning how to skip count and multiply by 3s
- Solving for the unknown (with the focus of doing so using multiplications)
- Pints, Quarts, and Gallons are furthered practiced and will be mastered by using multiplications and solving for the unknown methods.
- Learning the measuring units of Miles and Tons (how many feet in a mile? How many lbs in a ton?)
- Learning how to multiply multi-digit numbers (tens, hundreds, thousands, with a focus on place-value by teaching the regrouping method)
- How to identify all possible Factors of numbers
- Understanding numbers in Millions
- Learning about Prime and Composite numbers.
- Word Problems (presented throughout this level requiring more thinking skills and solving steps as kids progress through their lessons. Word Problems presented throughout Gamma will require students to use their Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Solve for the unknown skills, learned up to this point).
I found how the Gamma level goes about to teach kids Times Tables is absolutely genius! Where was Mr. Demme when I was in elementary school painfully memorizing those absolutely boring times tables??😭 Well, not to worry because Gamma has Times Tables covered and kids memorize them with little effort on their end.
Before learning each times table, Math U See will teach kids how to skip count by its number first. For example, when learning the 3 Times table, kids will first learn and master how to skip count by 3. This concept will have a whole lesson dedicated to it before moving on to the next lesson where multiplying by 3 is introduced. How is this helpful? When kids move on to the multiplying lesson, they have already memorized most multiplication facts naturally while working on their skip counting lesson. This method has worked wonderfully for my child, relieving the stress of memorizing his Times Table the old school way.
Lesson #23, 24, 25, 28
These are the lessons where “regrouping” while multiplying is introduced. Many families find themselves lost and confused at this point. The main 2 issues I’ve noticed families run into while covering these lessons are:
- Parents didn’t learn to regroup when multiplying and don’t understand how to teach it;
- Their children have a hard time keeping the numbers in the right place value spot.
If you haven’t learned how to regroup while multiplying my advice is to take a deep breath because the video explaining this process can be confusing. There are a lot of blocks Mr. Demme has on the board in these video lessons that he “groups and regroups”, and even I (I learned multiplication using this method), could barely follow him. – Sorry Mr. Demme, I still love you!😬 –
Basically, when kids multiply multi-digit numbers, they will list each product they get multiplying its numbers underneath it, placing special attention to correctly line up their numbers into their correct place value spots. After multiplying all factors (of their given multiplication), the student will then need to add up all the products he has now listed underneath. The sum of these products will be the overall answer (Product) of their multi-digit multiplication. Are you dizzy yet?🤯 It’s really not as complicated as it sounds. My best advice is don’t attempt to do this on the book worksheets but instead use graph paper. We found the squares of the graph paper helps kids keep all of their numbers in the place value spots they belong. 📈
←Link to a graph paper notepad great to use during the Gamma level.
Word Problems are thoroughly practiced during this level by having children use many thinking skills in order to solve them. While solving word problems, kids will be prompted to use all math skills they have learned up to this level.
Multiplication Learning Aids
Many Math U See users recommend the use of Times Tale Video to aid kids with the memorization of their multiplication facts. Knowing my son, he would have not enjoyed sitting there to watch more school videos, it just wasn’t going to work. So I saved my $20 and downloaded a Free Multiplication App that he used every morning before beginning his math worksheets. Each morning he dedicated about 5 minutes of his time practicing the multiplication he had learned. This has helped him immensely to master all of his Times Tables.
If your child enjoys listening to songs and you think it could help them to recall their multiplication facts, here is an Amazon link for the Times Tale DVD and the Times Table DVD + workbook. ↓
“In summary, after completing the Gamma Level students will have mastered all multiplication facts. Times Tables learning is now a thing of the past, Hurray”!🎉🤗
δ DELTA Level
Coming soon… Delta level: Divisions.
This review will be posted soon after our child finishes this level, to give you our most accurate thoughts, guidance, and opinions. Readers can Subscribe on our homepage to be notified when new reviews are available.
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Looking forward to further sharing my knowledge with my fellow homeschooling families,