Saxon Math – K-3 – Our Approach

I have seen several homeschool moms lately asking about math, and often moms of Classical 17th Street Blessings - Our Take on SaxonConversations 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)

Saxon 1 Teacher’s Manual – Workbook

Saxon 2 Teacher’s Manual – Workbook

Saxon 3 Teacher’s Manual – 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 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


9 responses to “Saxon Math – K-3 – Our Approach

  1. First time to your blog. I came here from the CC File Sharing page. Just wanted to leave my experience with Saxon. We’ve been with Classical Conversations for 7 years. My daughter began in 2nd grade and will be entering Ch. 1 this fall. We switched over to Saxon in the 3rd grade because back in the day, Challenge used Saxon and went through the specific lessons. Now, they teach concepts rather than a specific lesson or require a specific curriculum. After her last year of Foundations, which is 6th grade, I had her tested. She tested out as an 11th grader in math. I will say, we used Saxon but I did nothing extra. I made her do the meeting box and fact practice drills daily and work every problem in each lesson; the Practice Set as well as the Lesson portion. I hate to admit this, but life gets busy and often times school work gets left behind. This has been our case with Saxon. My daughter rarely, if ever, completed an entire book. Of course each year the first few lessons go back and refresh the concepts and then begin to build on each other. Keep up what you are doing. I promise that it may seem laborious at times but it will pay off in the end. I have also done a lot of reading about how boys and girls learn differently. With my sons, we’ve dabbled in Saxon but have really followed more of the “Teaching the Trivium” approach to boys and workbook math. I did buy the D.I.V.E. levels for the two oldest this year. That way hopefully if I’m not available to teach a lesson they can still watch the video and begin on the problems. Thank you for taking time to blog about your experiences. When we began homeschooling 10 years ago there wasn’t much out there like this and it sure would have helped me find my footing all those years ago. I know you are blessing brand new mothers as they begin their journey of being the primary teacher of their children.
    God Bless,

  2. Pingback: CC Blog Carnival: July 2015 – Running With Team Hogan

  3. Thanks for this! This is our second year using Saxon (in level 3 right now), and I really hate it. I feel it’s too late to switch, so I’m trying to figure out what works for us. I’ve been too scared to use only the worksheets, but I think I may try it after all based on your experience. 🙂
    It sounds like you do not do the timed fact practice at all… My two cents: My daughter is not a very good test taker (hates the pressure of being timed), so I feel they are actually necessary in a way to help prepare her for the ACT/SAT type of testing she’ll face for college preparation. So I think we would keep that part as well.

    • We do an online timed fact practice, we were using XtraMath, and now are using MobyMax, both are fine.

      And, if you really feel it isn’t working, I would try to find something else. I’ve heard good things about Math U See and Teaching Textbooks. Although I don’t think school should be all fun all day, we should dread it either. Are you in a Classical Conversations community? OR another coop? I would ask around, so you can hear from friends and look at the books. Good luck!

  4. I love how Saxon has changed one of my daughter’s feelings about math. My younger daughter started in Saxon 3 and I was pretty set on doing it ALL. I can see how she has benefited and how my older one would have if I had decided to do Saxon from the beginning. I love your suggestion as I have been looking for ways to not bog them down in lots of problems. There are other things they want to do. At some point, it is enough, and like you said, “school should not be all fun all day, but we shouldn’t dread it either.” I will think about this as we gear up for the new year.

      • So you said “Then I will review all the lessons, and note any new material.” ,,,, so you highlighted that or something? and then when your kids arrive to that part you teach them the new material? So do your kids basically work through the packet independently (except for new material)?

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