Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Math-U-See is in the House

For ages I've wanted to pick up Math-U-See. I had two intentions. One, to get Harry on a regular math program and two, to give Catherine review because she really loved the approach in the Math-U-See demo DVD. So I've been on the lookout for months on used curriculum sites and email lists.

Then I decided to unschool again and thought I might just pick up the ever-so-much cheaper Miquon to use as play with our Cuisenaire rods.

But you know how, when your ride is late for some important thing and just as you give up and head to the phone to see what's holding them up, they appear? Well, just a couple of days later on a Canadian used curriculum list up popped the old Math-U-See Foundation and Intermediate programs for $70. That's a whopper of a deal for what's basically four Math-U-See levels. Forgetting all about unschooling and Miquon, I pounced and miraculously, was the first person who responded.

15 minutes after I said I'd be delighted to buy them I remembered that I'd just committed to spending $70 on something I has decided not to use. Cue nausea.

Because I'm a coward I didn't tell the seller I wasn't interested. I still bought it and figured Catherine would still love the videos. Of course now I had a math program without the all important and somewhat expensive math manipulatives. Cue second wave of nausea.

I ordered the starter set of Math-U-See blocks (I was committed now) and waited.

The program hasn't arrived yet but the blocks came today. We ran up to the post office, got home and tore into the box. The kid's eyes lit up. Catherine played with them for an hour and had a ball. Harry got into them shortly after and darn it all, if all that nausea wasn't for nothing.

The cuisenaire rods were fun but it's with the Math-U-See rods that Harry is actually connecting the manipulative with numbers. It's obvious why when you take a quick look at the two kinds of manipulatives:

Or it would be obvious if I took a better picture (blue is MUS, orange is cuisenaire).

The Math-U-See rod has the ones marked right on it. The cuisenaire rods are smooth. First thing Harry did today was count all the ones in every Math-U-See block (except the hundred). Then he started measuring his Thomas engines with them. Then he started stuffing them in the container trucks and counting them. And the he started with the stacking because best of all, the Math-U-See blocks stack like Lego.

The nausea is well and truly gone. I stumbled into the math manipulative that seems to work for Harry and fit his style. Okay yes, it's the first day and there's always the First Day Gloss when new stuff arrives in the house but this does seem to get him playing with numbers in a way the pattern blocks and the cuisenaire rods and the poker chips and the many other manipulatives in the house haven't.

I'm happy. And it only took a small fortune to acheive that.


Anonymous said...

Early on, I picked up Miquon (because it was really cheap) and ended up giving it away - unused. Couldn't wait to get rid of it. Blech. Ptew. Uh, IMHO, that is ;)

molytail said...

I got hold of MUS Delta and Epsilon recently, loaned from a lady who got them as demos from Steve Demme himself - unfortunately, she can't sell them outright to me because she's supposed to use them as 'advertising' sort of, y'know? But we're using them as much as we can for now, before she needs 'em back - it's pricy to buy everything and I don't want to do that unless I know for sure it's the way to go with Cindy... found the MUS blocks at the used curriculum sale this year...and what on earth, why is that other block not marked? Wouldn't that be confusing?

I'm not familiar with the older MUS program, though I've heard there is one.. I should go google it...

Dawn said...

The older program contains most of the same stuff (from the site):

Classic Foundations corresponds to Alpha, Beta, and part of Gamma.
Classic Intermediate corresponds to part of Gamma, all of Delta and part of Epsilon.

I think kids using the cuisenaire blocks learn pretty quickly which is which without them being marked but Harry never had any patience for that.

Lynn - Good to hear! I've been thinking now that the only reason miquon was in the running was because it's cheap and I had the cuisenaire rods. Sort of dopey reasons to pick a math resource.

Amber said...

I appreciate your post on this. I am in the process of looking for the blocks to go with the DVD and books I was able to get ahold of through our local homeschool lending library. And I have been trying to decide if I should just go with the cuisenaire rods instead since we have some of those loaned to us already. But what you said about them beening clearly marked made up my mind. We can do a lot of the same things with the MUS blocks that we have been doing with the others, and I will feel more comfortable with the actual units being marked on them.

Anyway, Thank you!

MidnightCafe said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I realize it was a while ago now, but I was just looking up information on whether or not to go ahead & purchase the MUS blocks, and this is great information.

Joyce said...

I know this was posted moons ago but appreciate what you wrote here esp about the manipulatives. I guess they are pricey because they are so good :)