Math Mammoth and BJU Math are two very popular, high-quality and respected homeschool math programs that have helped numerous students over the years develop strong foundations in math.
Both programs have their share of passionate advocates online, and as a result it can be hard for some parents to decide which is best for them.
To help out, we’ve compared Math Mammoth and BJU Math so that parents can make a more informed choice as to which better suits their needs and homeschool style.
What is Math Mammoth
Created by former math teacher and homeschool mom, Maria Miller, Math Mammoth is a popular homeschool math program aimed at students in grades 1-7.
Known for its fairly rigorous curriculum, Math Mammoth is a self-study math program that emphasizes a stronger conceptual understanding of math and the development of strong number sense in order to help students succeed in math.
What is BJU Math
Created by BJU Press, the BJU Math series is a well-known homeschool K-12 math curriculum.
BJU Math strikes a balance between conceptual and procedural math learning, creating a traditional but comprehensive and solid math program that also includes a distinctly Christian worldview.
Math Mammoth is largely aimed at the Elementary school level, with workbooks and teaching material available for grades 1-7.
BJU Math, in contrast, covers the full K-12 range of math instruction.
It offers K-5 courses for Elementary, and Grade 6, Fundamentals of Math, pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry and Pre-calculus for Middle and High School.
Interestingly, although BJU Math doesn’t cover Calculus, it does include an optional Consumer Math course, for those who would like their student to learn more practical, day to day math topics, like budgeting and personal finance.
It’s important to note, of course, that these are homeschool math curricula and can, of course, be used outside their intended age and grade ranges (i.e. by both precocious learners and those who are a little behind).
To help parents switching into the program, Math Mammoth offers free diagnostic placement tests on its website.
These are essentially PDF end of year tests and students take the test intended for the previous grade to make sure they are ready for the intended one.
For example, parents who think their child should start grade 4 are encouraged to take the grade 3 exam to see if they are ready for it and if any critical knowledge or skill gaps exist.
BJU Math, on the other hand, relies more on a parents’ discretion for grade placement, providing parents with its scope and sequence to help guide them to the appropriate level.
The company also offers a variety of proctored online general assessment and achievement tests for a fee, which can be helpful for parents who are interested in getting a better and more fine-grained understanding of their students abilities and grade level.
Math Mammoth Vs. BJU Math: How They Teach Math
Conceptual vs Procedural
Math Mammoth is a distinctly conceptual math program.
In other words, it focuses more on helping students develop a stronger understanding of the concepts behind math, why it works, rather than simply learning how to solve math problems.
Rather than spend tons of time doing drill and memorizing math facts (there is some), more time is spent honing the student’s logic, mental math, number sense problem solving skills, exploring and understanding math problems, and learning different strategies to solve them.
With a slightly stronger emphasis on logic, visual models and multistep word problems, Math Mammoth aims to provide students with a deeper understanding of math and give them the skills they need to cope with unfamiliar math problems, especially at higher levels.
In this way it is somewhat similar to programs like Singapore Math.
BJU Press, in contrast, takes a more blended approach, in our opinion, combining elements of conceptual and procedural math instruction.
The program spends a fair amount of time helping students develop a deeper understanding of math and why it is used in certain situations, and spends a fair amount of time teaching students different strategies for approaching problems and working on their critical thinking and problem solving abilities as they pertain to math.
At the same time, and more in line with a procedural approach to math, the program also incorporates some review, drill and the memorization and practice of math facts, helping students learn to solve math problems quickly and accurately.
So while it may not cover conceptual math topics quite to the depth of Math Mammoth, BJU Math does manage to strike a balance between the two approaches.
Mastery vs Spiral
Mastery math is an approach where math concepts are taught one at a time, with students diving deeply into that concept over a period of lessons and only moving on to another topic once they have a firm understanding of it and can demonstrate proficiency (or mastery).
This is in contrast to a spiral curriculum, which breaks concepts down into smaller bits and then teaches a little at a time, moving from concept to concept, and revisiting a topic in greater depth later on.
A common complaint with pure mastery programs is that, while students can and do explore concepts in more depth, once they move on they tend to move on completely, meaning these programs don’t always provide as much review, repetition and practice that spiral programs offer.
Without more consistent review and practice of previous topics, some students can end up forgetting parts of what they’ve learned, developing critical skill and knowledge gaps that can cause issues down the line.
Addressing this common issue parents have, Math Mammoth and BJU Math are both mastery math programs that have incorporated spiral review in order to help students better retain information in the long run.
In fact, they are both structured in a very similar manner.
In both curricula, each chapter centers on a single topic in math, following which students can do a mixed review in their workbooks, practicing what they’ve just learned as well as practicing previously learned concepts.
In this way, students in both Math Mammoth and BJU Math have an opportunity to periodically refresh and strengthen their knowledge and skills in math.
Faith-based vs secular
Math Mammoth and BJU Math differ considerably when it comes to faith-based learning.
Math Mammoth is a secular homeschool math program and neither its instruction nor practice exercises contain any references to God, the Bible or any faith in particular – the focus of instruction is solely on math.
In contrast, BJU Math is a strongly Christian homeschool math curriculum, which is perhaps unsurprising given that this is a Bob Jones University Press curriculum.
While the math obviously remains math, its teaching material does make relatively frequent references to God, the bible and there is a great deal of scripting to help parents discuss a variety of positive Christian values, as well as math and how it can relate to serving God.
These Christian themes appear from time to time in student exercises, as well, although the focus is still mainly on math practice.
Workbooks also include a dedicated series of questions in each chapter, called Christian Worldview Shaping, which aims to directly integrate math and Christian teachings.
Consequently, those looking for a secular or even neutral curriculum might favor Math Mammoth, while those looking for a math program that better integrates with a faith-based homeschool environment may want to lean towards BJU Math.
Use of manipulatives and hands-on learning
Another noticeable difference between Math Mammoth and BJU Math is the use of manipulatives and hands-on learning during instruction.
In general, although there can be some helpful math-related hands-on activities (like measuring angles or using a ruler) with Math Mammoth, teaching concepts is largely done through clear instruction and visual diagrams.
While parents are free to purchase some optional physical items, or download printed versions to cut out, they aren’t as central to the coursework as some other math programs out there.
In contrast, BJU Math does make use of manipulatives.
In addition to teaching through interactive discussion and various activities, the program makes use of a variety of physical teaching aids, such as place value kits, number cards, flashcards, fun counters, printed money, clocks and even stick puppets.
These manipulatives come in their own book and are printed on heavy paper (to be cut out, assembled and used as needed), although parents are obviously free to purchase plastic versions or make use of their own.
The idea with these manipulatives is to help younger students better grasp abstract math concepts by letting them touch and handle physical representations of them before transitioning to symbols and equations.
In addition to helping students deal with abstract ideas, this use of manipulatives makes BJU Math more multisensory than Math Mammoth in comparable grades, and perhaps making it a slightly better fit for tactile-oriented learners.
Independent vs Parent-Led Learning
Math Mammoth and BJU Press are also fundamentally different in their overall teaching style.
Math Mammoth is more of a self-study math program.
Its workbooks are largely written to the student (there are some areas written to parents to help them guide and oversee the learning), and are clear enough and written with sufficient detail to guide students effectively through lessons and practice with minimal parental involvement.
Consequently, we believe that Math Mammoth is less demanding of parents time, allowing parents to adopt more of an oversight and guidance role (rather than a full time teaching role) and letting them focus on other homeschool tasks.
In contrast, at comparable grade levels (1-7), BJU Math is parent-led.
Parents are expected to present the information using scripted, colorful teacher’s manuals and a considerable part of its teaching style involves activities and interactive discussions between parent and student.
With parents actively teaching and helping students grasp math concepts and leading various faith-based discussions, BJU Math is not a curriculum parents can set their student to and walk away and can be said to be a little more involved compared to Math Mammoth in terms of parental commitment and time.
Use of Technology
Both Math Mammoth and BJU Math make use of some tech to make things easier for parents and students alike.
In addition to its printed books, Math Mammoth offers its program as a downloadable PDF and as a CD.
It also has a fairly basic math app (Soft Pak) that gives students some more practice options and access to a variety of digital and printable worksheets.
Math Mammoth also provides students with access to a rather extensive series of instructional videos, hosted by the founder of the program, to go along with its printed lessons.
These video lessons can, in our opinion, be of great help to students who need a little clarification here and there, as well as those who simply struggle with complete self-study programs.
A sample of Math Mammoth’s video instruction can be seen below:
Similarly, in addition to its printed textbooks (which include a CD containing a variety of extra teaching materials and activities), BJU Math also offers parents the ability to subscribe to its online distance learning program.
These online distance learning programs provide students and parents with printed and digital copies of the relevant textbooks and workbooks as well as teacher-hosted video lessons that fully teach lessons.
A sample lesson from BJU Math’s Distance Learning curriculum can be seen in the video below
It also provides parents with suggested lesson plans, online assessments, grading help and progress tracking.
As a result, BJU’s online distance learning program can help turn the program into more of a self-study program for students and can thus help reduce the overall load on parents in terms of time, letting them step back into more of an oversight role.
Although both programs make use of digital tools, including video, to help parents teach and students learn more effectively, BJU Math’s Online Distance Learning option, with its online assessments, progress tracking and course management tools make it a little bit more technologically integrated, in our opinion.
Common Core Alignment
One difference between Math Mammoth and BJU Math that parents should be aware of is their alignment to Common Core math standards.
Math Mammoth is currently aligned, for the most part, to the common core.
In contrast, BJU Math is not aligned to Common Core standards and follows its own scope, sequence and pace.
Academic Rigor and Challenge
Although aligned to Common Core standards, Math Mammoth is considered to be fairly rigorous when compared to public schooling and even many other homeschool math programs.
The program has a very strong conceptual focus, diving into math topics in more depth than some other programs and there is a stronger overall emphasis on problem solving, word problems and critical thinking exercises.
Similarly, in terms of overall scope, sequence and pace, Math Mammoth tends to introduce some concepts, such as fractions, decimals and pre-algebra concepts, earlier than most other programs.
As a result, although it can certainly be (and is) used by math students of all abilities, it can be considered a little more advanced and in-depth than an average homeschool program.
In contrast, BJU Math is more on grade level with its scope and sequence.
To be sure, it is a very solid and thorough math program that teaches math concepts in depth and offers a variety of more challenging problems for further exploration.
That said, it does teach math (in our opinion) at a more gentle pace, is more closely aligned to traditional grade-levels and makes use of manipulatives and various activities to help students understand abstract concepts.
Note: Prices, when mentioned, are correct as of writing and are in USD.
Math Mammoth and BJU differ quite a bit in terms of cost.
Math Mammoth is one of the more inexpensive and affordable homeschool math programs out there, with parents able to buy a CD containing the entire book series (grades 1-7) for under $200, and each individual printed book costing under $20.
In contrast, BJU Math is more expensive, being competitively priced with homeschool math curricula such as Saxon or Singapore.
Complete yearly kits for teaching a grade of BJU Math can cost between $100-200 depending on the year and retailer in question.
Its online distance learning program, depending on what parents choose to include, can start around $309 or so per student per year.
|Full Math Curriculum||✅||✅|
|Grade Range||K-12||Grades 1-7|
|Approach to Math||Mastery with spiral review||Mastery with spiral review|
|Conceptual or Procedural Math||Mixed||Conceptual|
|Main Style of Instruction||Parent-led||Self-Study|
|Common Core Options||❌||✅|
|Optional Video Instruction||✅||✅|
Bottom Line: How do I decide between Math Mammoth and BJU Math?
Both Math Mammoth and BJU Math are high respected and high quality math programs that have helped tens of thousands of students develop strong math skills over the years.
While they do have some notable differences, it can still be hard for some parents to figure out which would better suit their student’s needs.
To help, we’ve included a small chart below that offers some points that parents might want to consider before making a final decision.
|I’m a parent and…||Consider|
|I’m teaching grades 1-7||Either|
|I’m teaching Middle or High School||BJU Math|
|My homeschool is secular or faith-neutral||Math Mammoth|
|I’m looking for a solidly Christian math curriculum||BJU Math|
|I want to directly teach my student, lead activities and engage in discussions with them||BJU Math|
|My student likes learning one topic at a time but needs periodic review and practice to keep their skills fresh (spiral review)||Either|
|I prefer my student to work a little more independently and am looking for a self-study program||Math Mammoth|
|My student hates math drill and math fact memorization and wants to learn more conceptually||Math Mammoth|
|I like the idea of conceptual math but want to also integrate more traditional drill and memorization activities||BJU Math|
|I’m on a fairly strict budget for a math curriculum||Math Mammoth|
|Im looking for more of a complete online math program||BJU Math Online Distance Learning|
|I’m looking for a more advanced and rigorous curriculum that will challenge my student||Math Mammoth|
|I’m looking for a solid math program that is on grade leveland won’t overwhelm my student||BJU Math|
|I’m looking for a Common Core aligned math program||Math Mammoth|
|I am not looking for a Common core aligned math program||BJU Math|
For More Information
To learn more about these programs you can:
Visit Math Mammoth’s website
Alternatively, you can check out each company’s curricula
Math Mammoth on Amazon
BJU Math on Christianbook.com
About the Author
David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.