Math, Reviews

Mammoth Math VS Math-u-See – 1st Grade Math Curriculum

Math is math right? Well as it turns out, no. There are so many different math curriculums out there. Some teach spiral (where you cover a topic then loop back around to it) and some teach mastery (where you master a concept before moving on). There are those who focus on drills and those who use living books, teaching math in real life situations. So what’s best for you and your child?

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of Math Mammoth Light Blue Series and was compensated for my time by Mammoth Math. As always, all my opinions are my own. Please read my full disclosure policy

Math is one of those areas I wanted to have my kids have a really strong foundation in (unlike me). So I’ve looked into and used quite a few different math curriculum. For this comparison review I’m going to focus on Math Mammoth and Math-U-See for 1st grade, because they are both mastery (which is important to me) as a core math program. Without supplemental stuff like Life of Fred (I know quite a few people who use this as their core and that’s cool too. We love Life of Fred here, just not as our core ;))

First things first.  Cost.

Most Affordable Math Curriculum?

This is where you will find the BIGGEST difference.  There are a few ways to purchase Math Mammoth Light Blue Series:  as a digital download (what most people choose)  on a CD or printed.  The cost for the Grade 1 digital download at Homeschool Buyers Co-op is $37.50. The cost for “Grade 1” or what Math-U-See calls Alpha is $88. But that’s only IF you already have the block manipulatives . If you don’t it will set you back $159. You can buy the entire downloadable Math Mammoth Light Blue Package – Grades 1-7 for $175!!!! That’s 7 years of math for just a bit more than ONE year of Math-U-See.

What’s Included for the cost?

Math Mammoth Grade 1 Complete Curriculum is a complete math program for 1st grade. It consists of two student work texts (A and B), a separate answer key for each, tests, cumulative reviews, and, in the download version, an additional worksheet maker (Internet access required) to make extra practice worksheets when needed. You can take a placement test here to see if your child is ready for Math Mammoth.

Math-U-See Alpha Complete Kit Includes: instruction manual with complete solutions, instruction DVD, student workbook, tests booklet, integer block kit and 12 months of access to their Alpha digital pack.

How time much does it take to prepare each lesson?

Prep time and lessons. We are all busy mamas who don’t want curriculum with a laundry list of things to prep before we even sit down to teach the math lesson. Math Mammoth  says “The curriculum is nearly self-teaching for many children, since the full explanations of concepts are included in the student books. Thus it requires fairly little preparation time from the teacher.”  while that may be true, I ADORE the DVD instructional that comes with Math-U-See. When we start a new lesson (usually Monday) we sit down and watch the lesson together. Perhaps it’s because I myself am a very visual learner and it helps me better teach the concepts? Maybe it’s because of the WAY he teaches that I love. He explains math in ways I would never think of but totally make sense. For example… adding 9’s (9 is a sad number because he wants to be a 10 so he sucks up one to become a ten *include sucking sound here*. So with 7+9 he sucks up one from 7 to make it a six and ten) VS Math Mammoths way of teaching adding 9’s they just don’t teach that way they teach adding sums of that =9. It’s definitely different.

To me, Math-U-See takes the cake for easy teacher preparation. That being said, Math Mammoth isn’t that overwhelming and has a list in each book of free helpful resources on the internet to supplement and games you could buy, which is nice (but that does mean more work on your end).

What’s do they look like inside?

On to the actual workbooks. I’ll leave some pictures for you to look at and compare but I think it totally depends on your child. Some children might like the bright colors and pictures that Math Mammoth provides (if you print it in color because, remember, you’re in charge of printing them). However, for my son it’s WAY too distracting. I love that Math-U-See is black and white and very bland  because it helps him focus. I’ve heard from other moms that their children also do better with simple worksheets. It really depends on your child.


The content in the books is similar but also surprisingly different. They both cover adding and subtracting as I mentioned above but they do teach the concepts differently. The big difference I noticed was money, time, measurement, shapes, and place value. Math Mammoth does A LOT more with all these concepts. Some of these concepts are not even covered at all in Math-U-See Alpha (they are in Beta though).  Lets talk a little about each.


Money -Not covered in Math-U-See Alpha (we did our own unit study this year). I looked at Beta and it says it covers money but I’m honestly not sure how in-depth it will be.

-Covered VERY well in Math Mammoth with downloads for other currency (A HUGE WIN for my Canadian friends!!!)