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Math-A-Mayhem Vol. 1 Review by Bethany Hankinson

Gerry Perez
Pezer Pan Puppets LLC

Math is a subject that we are always looking to jazz up some, so we thought we’d like to try out the Math-A-Mayhem video. Math-A-Mayhem Vol. 1 is a supplemental math video that includes short video clips with lessons on addition, subtraction, word problems, symbols, geometry, and fractions. The video has a total running time of approximately 31 minutes and is $15.99. Each skit can be shown back to back or in individual segments.

The first segment is called A Dangerous Sum with Midas Grotesque (a gargoyle). It has students solving addition problems up to 9,999. In volume 1, Midas is counting up some money in his money bags. He refers to the money bags as “money mutts” and they have dog-like behavior (biting and sniffing each other from behind). The second segment is Mathra and the Fighting Fungi Fairies. In this segment, word problems are provided that focus on addition and subtraction. When Mathra gets hit by a falling tree, she smashes a fighting fungi fairy and we must solve a problem to save her. She appears to be a moth and doesn’t speak English. Geo-Bot versus Octagon-zilla is the third segment and has Captain Geo-Bot, a giant robot, trying to protect the earth from the giant polygonzillas by calling on the ancient powers of geometry, which include identifying angles, vertices, and edges. Up next is Fraction Samurai (a rooster) in Wrath of the Cheese Ninja. The Fraction Samurai uses fraction power for fighting evil while the Cheese Ninja throws cheese and stinks up the place. The Greater Gator Cooking Show features Addy Gator. This Cajun chef eats everything he cooks and uses math symbols for greater than, less than, and equal when comparing two whole numbers between 0-9, 999. The final segment is Operation: Subtraction with Red Rascal, a red panda thief. He uses subtraction to solve problems with two numbers 9,999 or less.

Some extra educational things include classical music in a couple of sections. We recognized Grieg as one of them. There is also a map, Educaria, that takes the kids to each of the places that the puppets are located. The map includes Midasville, Mathwood, Fractopia, Shapeopolis, and Sizzlin Swamp.

I let the kids watch the segments all through for the purpose of reviewing, but we would recommend using these segments when you wish to introduce the new topic to your students. They would make for a quirky introduction to the new lesson.

The targeted age is for first through fifth grade and we felt it was best suited for second and third graders. Our kindergartener didn’t retain much of the information (he said it was all about fighting), the baby growls when he sees the DVD cover, our fourth grader said it was too easy, and our seventh grade daughter wasn’t amused (much anyway). When I asked our fourth grader what she learned (the one within the targeted age band), she said, “I learned that an octagon has 8 sides, 8 vertices, and 8 angles. And that was all. I knew all of the rest of it.”

My favorite segment is the Cajun chief. He teaches that the alligator always eats the greater number. That is exactly how I’ve always taught my kids to tell the symbol for greater than and less then. And the Cajun chief does it much better than I have done. My fourth grader says that is her favorite as well, but the Red Rascal is a close second.

We would recommend this for families that want to look for an off-beat way to make math more appealing. While my girls did not seem to be very fond of the clips, the topics may be more appealing to boys with the ninjas, samurai, thieves, and gargoyle characters.

—Product Review by Bethany Hankinson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2016