my kids love Math-U-See and so do I

May 9, 2007 at 11:42 pm 22 comments

I came home from my recent homeschool conference with a demo DVD for Math-U-See. I’ve seen other moms talking about it in various on-line homeschooling groups and I wanted to check it out for myself.I popped in the DVD and invited my sons to watch it with me. After a couple minutes, 8 year old Alex said,

“Are we going to get this, Mom?”

I told him that I was thinking about it, and that’s why we were watching the DVD. Then Alex said,

“Can we get this, Mom?”

As Steve Demme’s math lesson continued, I was quickly sold on this curriculum and knew I would not need to look any further. My kids were laughing and enjoying the math lesson. Six year old Caleb really liked the “decimal street.” So I told Alex that we would probably get it someday.

“I really like this Mom. Can we please get it now, Mom?”

I saw no reason why we had to do that last workbook in the other curriculum we were using so I searched on-line to see if I could find Math-U-See discounted. I discovered MUS swap, a yahoo group exclusively for buying and selling Math-U-See. I was able to buy some of what I needed used, saving the cost of shipping and a little more if I had bought the books all brand new.

Math-U-See is a mastery approach

The mastery approach is different than what I have seen in other math curricula. Steve Demme, the author, likes to call it math you understand. Instead of jumping back and forth between operations, each skill is mastered before moving on to the next one and review is built into each lesson so students won’t forget how to do things. Workbook levels are named after greek letters instead of grades so kids who are “behind” won’t feel like they’re below grade level. I’m not going to explain everything here about Math-U-See. Just go to their website and check it out for yourself!

Organizing Math-U-See

mathusee-blocks.jpgPutting the math blocks away once or twice a day became tedious. You have to line them up in rows and neat stacks in order for them to fit in the cardboard boxes they came in. I wanted the wooden carrying case sold by the company, but it carries a hefty price tag. Someone on the support group told me that they had found a tackle box that fit the pieces, so I went to Meijers and found a box for under $5.00. Wonderful. Problem solved.
mag-holders.jpgMy teacher’s manuals and student workbooks wouldn’t stand up straight and they were falling all over each other whenever things were taken off the shelf. This was driving me crazy. So I also found magazine holders for about $2.00 each (I left the $9 fashionable polka dotted ones at the store where they belong since they were only made of fabric covered cardboard) These sturdy holders are the perfect size; each one holds all the books and DVD for one level.

Math-U-See offers lots of support

  • placement tests so you know what level your child should start in
  • a live chat at the website if you’re having trouble with a math problem (hopefully I won’t need that until we get to high school level)
  • on-line drill practice.
  • on-line worksheet generator if extra written work is needed for mastery in particular lesson
  • a yahoo group for math-u-see users
  • another yahoo group exclusively for buying and selling math-u-see curriculum
  • company reps available to answer questions
  • a fun blog (click below)
  • a math-u-fan club
  • t-shirts and tote bags
  • Caleb wants a decimal street t-shirt, Alex prefers the chocol-8 shirt and I think every mom needs the tote bag . You never can have enough canvas totes! (I’m sure my husband would disagree)

    Playing with the manipulatives


    Caleb likes to make patterns with the blocks and 2 year old Mary always takes the unit blocks and puts one on each finger. Her baby brother plays with the hundred blocks, but dropped them and wants Mary’s little green ones.m-unit-blocks.jpg j-and-m-blocks.jpg

    Math-U-See Blog
    read a review of Tapestry of Grace curriculum


Entry filed under: curriculum review, education, homeschooling, math.

Alex sneers and a few other pictures photos and videos taken by 2 boys

22 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Angie  |  May 10, 2007 at 12:39 am

    Why am I still up? I have no idea, but wanted to tell you that we have been using MathUSee for the past 3 years. We LOVE it! Elle just finished the Primer, Noah finished Beta, Ben finished Delta and Pete just finished Epsilon – my 5th grader was doing algebra!!! Love the philosophy of mastering one skill before moving on and building upon the mastered skills. You will love this program!!

  • 2. southerngirlmusings  |  May 10, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    We love MUS and I had never thought about the tackle box for the manipulatives…thanks for the suggestion!

  • 3. ethan  |  May 10, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    Hi, Glad you like Math-U-See 🙂 also great pics, would you mind if I used some of them in a blog post?

    have fun teaching math

    sure, you can use the photos! Guinever

  • 4. Cheryl  |  May 10, 2007 at 10:45 pm

    I love your review and pictures. Math U See is awesome. We are just finishing up our first year with it. I think it is the best program for our family.

  • 5. Marilea  |  May 21, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you for the organization ideas! I’m going to do exactly what you suggested.

  • 6. Yielded  |  May 21, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    Hi. I got here from another blog that linked you on a recent post.
    This is our 2nd year with MUS and my dd loves it. She used to dread Math and so we kept switching programs, until we found MUS. Great idea with the organization, I’ll do the same the 2nd time around. (dd#1 doesn’t use the blocks anymore.)
    Oh, we also use magazine holders like yours to tame the HS wild!

  • 7. Lisa  |  May 28, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Hi! I linked over here from the MUS users group and I LOVE your tackle box idea for storage! Do you have one set of blocks or two? Where did you find the box? Is it deep or shallow? Have I asked enough questions?
    We’ve been using MUS for about 3 months and my daughter, who is at the end of 1st grade, is now halfway through Alpha and we LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!

    I bought the tackle box at Meijers which is a store similar to Walmart or Target. It seems like you find it any store that sells tackle boxes. A sewing box might work too. I have both sets of blocks and they fit perfectly in the box. I just measured the box and it is 11″ x 14 1/2″ and not quite 3″ deep. ~Guinever

  • 8. Genna  |  July 4, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    I’ve been using A Beka and I’m happy with it. But at their evaluation, we learned one of my girls is just as kinesthetic as visual so I’m looking for a supplement. MUS was recommended so I’m gathering information. If I order the blocks only, do you know if some sort of tutorial comes with them? I think they’ll be a great asset to our homeschooling. Also, I noticed you said you have both sets. Does that mean you have the starter set and the completer set? Do you think both are needed?

    Why don’t you order their free demo DVD or go to the blog (links above in my article) and watch portions of it there so you can see firsthand what MUS is all about. Yes, I have both the starter set of blocks and the completer set. I don’t think both are absolutely necessary, but the completer set definitely helps when starting to multiply or when adding and subtracting larger numbers. So although not necessary, I do recommend them for kids in Beta or higher (or the equivalent.) I do not remember the blocks coming with any instructions. I think that working with manipulatives is important no matter what program you use. ~Guinever

  • 9. keri  |  August 27, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    I have been searching for a math program.
    I plan on ordering MUS after reading several good reveiws.
    Thank you for your opinion.

  • 10. keri  |  August 30, 2007 at 11:55 am

    I bought it and we love it!
    Come See!

  • 11. leanne cooper  |  September 11, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    My 4th grader has been moved from ABEKA to MUS. I put him in the Gamma level. I am – oops WE ARE very happy with it. I wish I knew how MUS teaches subtraction using the rods. Can you explain it to me or should I order the DVD for beta?

    Leanne, I currently have one child in early Alpha and one in Gamma, so I haven’t done any subtraction the MUS way. I only know a teeny bit from what is shown on the demo DVD and maybe what is in a lesson here and there. I don’t know it well enough to be able to explain it so someone else so they can teach it. Why don’t you go to the MUS website and ask on the forum or you can join the yahoo support group. ~blessings, Guinever

  • 12. leanne cooper  |  September 12, 2007 at 1:13 pm

    Will do, thanks!

  • 13. Gina Hempen  |  October 9, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    I love the tackle box organization method you show. I live in Missouri and there are not any Meijers stores in our area. I have looked at Wal-mart, Target, Michael’s craft store and a Dick’s sporting good store. I have not been able to find one single box that will hold all the manipulatives. I only have the starter set and am wanting to get the completer set so I want the box to hold both. The boxes I have seen that would hold all of the blocks are about $30.00 so I could almost purchase the MUS wooden box. I was just wondering if you could tell me the brand and model of the one you purchased so I could search online.

    Gina, I looked at the box I have and there is no brand name on it, but the next time I’m at Meijers, I’ll try to remember to look at the tackle boxes. You say you want to find a box for all the pieces; I do have my 100 blocks in a separate container so is that maybe the difference here? The tackle box is not large, and one might not think that all the pieces can fit, but they do.


  • 14. KathyM  |  November 1, 2007 at 9:24 am

    WE also like MUS since my two ds’s started using it this year! 🙂 And I liked your idea of the ‘tackle box’ so much, I went looking for one, too. I found one on Ebay that I hope will work; but wanted to leave a note here that I also saw some on I’m still waiting on mine, but if you could give the measurement for yours, it would probably help when they go to this website.
    God Bless!

  • 15. KathyM  |  November 1, 2007 at 9:30 am

    I’m sorry… as I scrolled up after posting my previous comment, I saw that you did indeed leave the measurements, but I somehow missed them. You gave your box as measuring 11″ x 14 1/2″ x almost 3″. I should’ve paid more attention, as the one I bought is a little smaller… 11 x 7 x 2… but then I only have the starter set of blocks. Hopefully it’ll work for them.

  • 16. Laurie  |  August 9, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Hi, I bought a used MUS that is Alpha until the end (not sure of what the end is) I am starting homeschooling for the 1st time and have a 2nd grader and 4th grader and K. I don’t know if I should all start them in the same place and move faster for the 4th grader or start with Mult. because that is where he left off in school. I bought the A Beka program for the older one but I don’t know if I should combine it and use all MUS or not. Just need direction.

    How about trying the placement test that MUSee has at their website? It’s no problem to start them all out in alpha with your older kids flying through the first few books. ~HTH, Guinever

  • 17. Kelly  |  August 26, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Hi! I am going to order MUS for my 2nd grader. Would you recommend the Primer for my 5 year old? Is it worth it, or should I just “wing it” and then start her in Alpha at some point? I guess my question is, is it worth the money or can I teach her the basics on my own and go straight into Alpha? Thanks in advance!

    Dear Kelly, I don’t think the primer is necessary at all in teaching the concepts that it contains (counting, sorting, learning the colors of the blocks, stacking…). The real benefit in having it would be so that she could have her “own” book. If I were you, I would start them both out in Alpha at the beginning and then let your older one go at a much faster pace. Did you have your 2nd grader take the placement test online? Maybe he/she could start in Beta instead, but I wouldn’t push it. MUS teaches things in a different order than other curricula. ~blessings, Guinever

  • 18. Cariann  |  January 21, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    what a great idea… right now our blocks are divided among 2 containers (1 has units, tens, and hundreds to play on decimal street while the other box has everything else…) I love that they are all in one container…

  • 19. Jamie  |  October 2, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    I like the idea for the tackle box and magazine holders for the books too, but i am wondering what you do with your ‘hundreds’ blocks?
    Thanks 🙂

    • 20. ballet you say  |  March 3, 2012 at 12:02 am

      I just use a square plastic container with lid. They fit in there perfectly all stacked up, with a couple on their end.

  • 21. sillyeaglebooks  |  August 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    A tackle box is a great idea! Thanks for sharing. We’ve been throwing them all jumbled up into a picnic basket. 🙂

  • 22. Michelle Pohl  |  May 2, 2013 at 9:16 am

    Thanks – we are considering Math u See this fall. I appreciate your review. Come see me at 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Welcome to my personal blog about my life as a wife and homeschooling mother of a few energetic children! You'll find my favorite recipes, all kinds of reviews, the occasional rant, and whatever else I feel like writing about.

My other blogs are
birthing with guinever
grieving with guinever
I hope you can relax and stay awhile.

what to read?

Ten homeschooling moms compiled these book lists:
1000 GOOD books
100 GREAT books


site meter

#1 Way to Save
You can join the homeschool buyer's co-op for free! They offer lots of group discounts for home educators.

%d bloggers like this: