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MANGO Math Group 2 Review by Maggi Beardsley

Mary Curry and Jill Kehle
8908 171st Avenue SE
Snohomish, WA 98290

As a part-time math teacher and a homeschooling mom teaching math to children in the first, third, and fifth grades, I am always on the lookout for solid math programs. I have found that different math programs work for different students. The two biggest problems I have seen in math education are the lack of solid fundamental skills and the lack of confidence. Flashcards and computer drill programs can help with fundamental skills, but it is difficult to find curriculum to increase a student's confidence in math. MANGO Math Group has put together some great math thinking packets to build a student's math confidence. Some of the packets are so fun that my math-reluctant children will actually choose to do a packet, adding more math to their day!

We reviewed the math crate for Grade 2. It contained 20 plastic sleeves, each with a colored instruction sheet for the activity, objectives, supply list (all supplies included in the sleeve), and teaching tips. The great thing for the homeschooling parent is that all of the supplies are in the plastic packet! Some activities require a dry erase pens; others have plastic fruit and spinners. They pack away easily. The pens erase nicely from the tally boards too. The materials are sturdy, and all 20 packets come in a sturdy wooden crate that is about the size of an office storage box. It has handles carved out of the box so that it is easy to transport.

MANGO Math Group aligns its curriculum to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. The activities include concepts from the following standards: measurement, algebra, number sense, geometry, and odds and orders (data analysis). They have crates for kindergarten through grade 4. Crates for the fifth grade and pre-algebra will be available in January 2010. Mary Curry and Jill Kehle, former math teachers, designed these activities so that they are filled with solid mathematical concepts and lots of fun.

One of my daughter's favorite activities was called "Bug Out." There was a colored instruction sheet for me, the teacher, to read so that I could tell her how to play the game. On the opposite side of the sheet, it told me the objective: "Students will estimate sums of 2 digit numbers by first rounding addends to the nearest tens." Then it outlined the supplies that I would need, and they were included in the packet. It then outlined a few teaching tips and guided questions. We read a book (included) called Coyotes All Around. Then we each had an erasable game board with numbers from 0 to 30. We would each roll a 30-sided die and round the numbers and estimate the sums. We would circle the numbers on our tally board and estimate the number to the nearest tens. There was a calculator included too.

We used the MANGO Math Group packets to supplement our traditional drill math program. I felt that my child needed a regular, step-by-step, grade-level math program. MANGO was great because it wasn't sequential. If we were using the "Castle Creator" packet, my daughter had to use her geometrical math knowledge. If we pulled out the "Izzi" packet, she had to use her pattern matching skills. This was the one math program that I had to hide. My daughter loved to pull out the packets and get to work. If you have an older student in the house, he could read the instructions and lead your younger student through the packet.

The website includes information for parents, teachers, and homeschoolers. Kinesthetic learners will enjoy the manipulatives. Eclectic learners will enjoy MANGO as well. Textbook and workbook families would enjoy MANGO as an enrichment product, but not as a replacement program.

It is an expensive investment at $199 plus shipping per crate. Perhaps a homeschooling support group or co-op could purchase a few crates and share them among themselves. The packets are very durable and could survive use by many children for many years. If you are looking for a more affordable option, however, the company also has totes for $79. The totes have ten lessons and were designed for individual learning. See the website for more details. The website also has great math logic problems on the company's blog.

I found the MANGO Math Group Grade 2 to be a wonderful enrichment addition to our family's math program. The packets are novel and sturdy, and they do just what the authors say they will--build positive attitudes towards math while reinforcing math skills.

Product review by Maggi Beardsley, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2009