We pulled Bookworm out of school at the end of 3rd grade.  Since 1st grade, I had seen him slip in math every year.  When we started homeschooling in 4th grade, we used a popular math curriculum, and it worked for
Bookworm. . .at first.  But that’s just because the first few months were review.  When he hit the real curriculum for 4th grade, he hit a wall.

I took to Facebook homeschool groups and asked for help.  Inevitably, many, many moms recommended Demme Learning’s Math-U-See.  I had Bookworm take the placement test for Math-U-See, and he placed in Beta, the second book in the elementary level.  Although we were both discouraged by this, he worked hard, we drilled his math facts, and we both watched Mr. Demme explain math concepts.  And it clicked.  Bookworm didn’t hate math anymore!  Bookworm just finished Math-U-See’s Epsilon level, so we were both so excited to have the opportunity to review the new Digital Packs for Zeta, the next level in the program.

Math-U-See is a curriculum created by Steve Demme, a math teacher.  The program has two key components–the teacher workbook, and more importantly, the instructional videos.  Previously, the instructional videos were available on DVD, but now they are also available online through the Digital Packs.

Mr. Demme has a unique knack of making math clear.  The title of the program is not deceiving.  He truly makes students “see” math visually.  Once math becomes a physical entity, it becomes so much clearer, especially for those like Bookworm who aren’t naturally math minded.

Math-U-See helps students “see” math through the use of manipulatives, starting with blocks for the younger levels and moving to fraction overlays for those in Epsilon, and then Algebra and Decimal inserts for those in Zeta, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra.  Previously, these manipulatives were physical only, but thanks to the Digital Pack, these are now available online.  That means if one child is doing math at home using the physical manipulatives, another child could be using the online ones.  Or, if you’re away from home either traveling or doing car schooling on a busy day, your child can do his math on the go online.

## More About the Digital Packs

If you buy the digital pack for your child’s grade level, you will get a teacher’s manual, the visual lessons, and the manipulatives online.  Your subscription will be good for one year.  You will still need to buy the student workbook.

## How We Used The Digital Packs

Bookworm enjoyed watching the lessons online instead of on a DVD.  It felt more modern to him.  He also enjoyed using the digital manipulatives online.  He’s always used the physical manipulatives, and with the decimial inserts, he often got frustrated because he couldn’t keep them in tidy order in their holder.  They just felt clunky to him.  The digital pack took care of those issues; he could use the manipulatives online without worrying about keeping his materials orderly.

Math-U-See uses a mastery approach rather than a spiral approach that many other math programs use.  That means that a child does as many lessons as necessary to master a topic.  Each Math-U-See workbook has 6 worksheets for each unit–3 for practicing the new material, and 3 for review and practicing the new material.  Mr. Demme suggests that if students master a concept quickly, they just do the first of the practice sheets, but they should always do all three review sheets in a unit so they are reminded of material that they previously learned.

While we raced through the first few Math-U-See books when Bookworm started the program, he’s now reached the point at Zeta where the material is challenging.  Sometimes after doing all 6 worksheets, he still needs more practice, so we’re able to print off more worksheets online, which is a feature I love.

We do a worksheet a day.  That means he often takes 1.5 to 2 weeks to complete the unit and then take the unit test.  That was the pace that he used during this review.  However, I prefer that he take it slowly if it helps him really learn the material.  Of course, your child may go much faster than this pace.

## What We Liked about the Digital Packs

We already love Math-U-See and plan to use it for the rest of our children’s school years.  The Digital Packs just make the program that much more convenient.  There is less material to take up room on the bookshelf, and the program is portable.  In addition, the Digital Packs are less expensive than buying the print version.

## What We Disliked about the Digital Packs

The only potential problem I found was that the Digital manipulatives might be inconvenient for those who aren’t computer savvy.

Overall, the Digital Packs just made a very good program that much better.

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