I have seen several homeschool moms lately asking about math, and often moms of Classical Conversations ask about Saxon. We have used Saxon for two years now, and I feel like I have learned a few things worth passing on with regards to the K-3 materials. The format changes with the switch to 4th grade, once we get through that, I’m sure I’ll have something to say. 😉
***NOTE: Make sure you buy the homeschool version, which is not aligned with Common Core***
First, if you can find the teacher’s guides used, that is wonderful. If you are in a CC Community, ask around. If not, I have bought them on Amazon or eBay. The workbooks I usually buy from ChristianBook or Rainbow Resources, they are also on Amazon. Here are direct (affiliate- thanks for your support!) Amazon links for the homeschool materials for K-3. Go for the used versions of teacher’s manuals! Just make sure the seller has high feedback. (I will address the manipulative kit at the end of the post)
Saxon K Teacher’s Manual – (no workbook)
First, I recommend, starting with Saxon 1. Princess started CC right after she turned four (July birthday). I bought Saxon K and the meeting book used online, and it was so simple, there really wasn’t much to it. I was overall disappointed, and felt like we were wasting our time (and money!). This might not be the case with every student, but was with ours. We skimmed through the book in about 2 months. For the rest of the year, I picked up some cheap workbooks at Target and the Dollar Store (similar to these on Amazon). She worked through these a few pages a day, it was fun “school” time for her while Lego Man worked.
Our first year, Lego Man worked his way through Saxon 1, we did lessons 4 days a week, he was done in early May.
Second year, Princess (her kinder year) she did half a lesson in Saxon 1 each time we sat down, about three times a week and completed the first workbook. Lego Man started working through Saxon 2 and is almost finished.
Now, let me say one thing. DO NOT let the teacher’s manual be your Bible, it is not the be-all-end-all-must-do-every-little-thing-ruler-of-all-math-guide. Take what works for you, and do what your student needs to work on. I don’t use much of the “meeting” at all. My kiddos had really mastered patterns from different shows on TV and iPad apps, and the constant repetition wore me out. I have a friend who never even opens the teacher book unless she comes across something on the worksheets she doesn’t understand. I figure I can teach them how to use a calendar in a few days when they are a bit older, or we can do it every. single. maddening. day. for right now. (God bless kindergarten teachers!) A friend gave Princess a small pocket calendar, she LOVES it and carries it around all the time, asking me to mark birthdays, lesson days and CC days. She was interested, and she learned quickly what she wanted/needed to know.
Also, I use XtraMath.org for fact practice. It is a free, no-frills way to drill the facts. Hint: If you change the program to “6s” it gives them six extra seconds to answer the problems. After they complete the three rounds of quizzing, I go in the teacher side and make flashcards of the problems they missed and we practice those.
For next year, I had an epiphany! I (like my friend) do not care to drag out the big spiral bound teacher book every day, and I detest lesson planning (we can thank 20+ page lesson plans at Kent State!). My kids work well with workbooks, and the single pages that I would tear out of the Saxon pad of worksheets is fine, but I think I have (for us) a better way. I will start in Saxon 3 and tear out all the pages until the first Assessment, then staple them together. Then I will review all the lessons, and note any new material. We will work through that little packet, aiming for 4 lessons a week until we are all done. Then I plan to ask my husband to complete the assessments with the kids, so he can be a part of their math. Then I’ll make another packet and we will keep on working, with packets from assessment to assessment.
****UPDATE**** We are now 4 months into the school year (Hello Christmas break!) and I am LOVING this new ‘packet’ system with Saxon. I absolutely plan to continue this approach.
I am actually oddly excited about approaching Saxon this way; I think it will work much better for our family. We will continue to use XtraMath for fact practice, along with the skip counting in CC. Over the summer I would like to do some practice with clocks/time and measurement.
I mentioned earlier about the manipulatives kit for Saxon K-3. When I was first looking, it was $85, way to expensive. I found one from a family that was in our CC Community for $10, much better! You can purchase it on Christian Book for $59.99+ Shipping (often they offer free shipping $35+). Or, here are Amazon links for what I considered to be the important parts. Also, find a nice 100’s chart to print and consider having it laminated.
Linking Cubes. These you will use a ton!
Animal Counters, these are fun, and good for beginning addition and subtraction.
Learning Clock. These are really handy, but this one is pricy. I would check Target in August for a cheaper one.
If you have extra cash or just love Melissa & Doug like we do, you might want to check out this Pattern Block set.
If you decide to piece together the manipulates kit, you might have to fly by the seat of your pants some days, but for me, the savings is worth it.
Overall, we have been happy with Saxon math and the slight modifications I have made to make it work for us. I am excited to start this new year!
This post is featured on the CC Blog Carnival at Running with Team Hogan!