Saxon Math 5/4 Prep

This entry is part 10 of 15 in the series Saxon Math

This will be our fifth year of homeschooling, our fourth year of teaching Saxon Math. And, I have a little secret. Pssst….I LOVE SAXON MATH! Not a highly popular opinion to those looking for something more fun for their students. But having taught three levels of Saxon Math successfully, I marvel at the easy method of helping a student to make connections for herself. I only wish I had been taught using the Saxon method in my grade school days!

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Why Prep for Saxon 5/4?

A have another little secret. Pssst….I LOVE SAXON MATH PREP! Ahem…well, once I figured out how to prep for it, then I loved it.

Having solved the prep problem for the first three years of Saxon Math, I am taking on the challenge of prep for Saxon Math 5/4. To which you may be wondering: Isn’t 5/4 supposed to be more independent? Aren’t we just supposed to tuck the textbook and the worksheets book into our elementary student’s hands and stand back, hand extended to receive the completed and perfect work of our star student?

Not a question.

Not a struggle.

Just lock and load and off you go.

I don’t know if my student is ready for that.

I don’t know if I am ready for that.

Here are the two reasons I am prepping Saxon Math 5/4 for my 4th grader:

  1. To create an easy transition for both of us. Gently providing her with all the materials she needs, so she can focus on learning the process of math lessons.
  2. To prevent the endless purchase of consumable materials for 4 students. Read: I am trying to save some money here!

How does Saxon 5/4 differ from Saxon 1-3?

Saxon 5/4 is different from Saxon 1-3 in independence. The student is learning Saxon’s process of incremental development and is in essence, teaching herself math. Yes, the parent/teacher is still close-by for advice and instruction. But the bulk of instruction is coming straight from the textbook. The parent/teacher becomes the teacher’s assistant, so to speak.

A Word About Review

For those just finishing Saxon 3 and perusing the textbook for 5/4 the temptation may be to “skip the review.” I don’t know how many times I have heard this from parents who do school year-round. “Saxon is full of review, just skip ahead at least 30 lessons.”

May I caution you against this for two reasons?

  1. If one was to skip ahead to new material, she would skip ahead to over half-way through the book. Remember that incremental approach thing? There must be some reason Saxon wanted to go this slowly through what we consider to be review.
  2. The point of the first half of Saxon Math 5/4 is not to teach math. Or even to review math. I suggest the reason for so much “review” is to teach the student how to receive instruction from a textbook. If you just skip all that instruction and throw your student into the midst of the book, to learn all things new, she will be struggling with not only learning the new material, but also with how to learn the material.

Thus, the “review-heavy” nature of 5/4 is for the purpose of teaching the student how to receive instruction from the text using material she already knows. She shall not struggle with these simple concepts. She has mostly mastered them already in Math 3 and earlier. Instead, she shall have ample practice in attending to instruction as she shall be given it for years to come.

If you are interested in an expert’s opinions and advice, I highly recommend the resource Using John Saxon’s Math Books. I read it in about an hour earlier this year and it has impacted my approach to teaching Saxon Math immensely.

What is in Saxon 5/4?

A Saxon 5/4 Homeschool Kit contains the student Textbook, a Tests and Worksheets Manual, and a Solutions Manual.

The student Textbook is the hunk of paper you will hand to your student at the beginning of the year. If you choose, the Tests and Worksheets manual might also be handed over. The Solutions Manual is yours to keep!

In essence, the Textbook and the Tests and Worksheets Manual are, consumable. The student can use these to work in and have all their math stuff in one place.

But, as I stated before, I have four students who will be treading through Saxon Math 5/4. If I were to spend money on replacing the textbook and the Tests and Worksheets Manual each time, it would get super expensive!

How I am Prepping Saxon 5/4

I took some time to look through Saxon 5/4 and I discovered some gems I had no ideas were in there! I am in a couple of Saxon Math Facebook groups and I have never seen the discussion of these things. Maybe it is because they are tucked into the back of the Tests and Worksheets Manual.

Once I got a lay of the land and found my hidden gems, I settled on a plan to not consume the Textbook and Tests and Worksheets Manual. I settled into my husband’s office and set to copying.

Here is a list of the items I copied, where I found them, and how many copies I will need for the year. This list is printable when you click here.

NOTE: If you are not planning on teaching Saxon 5/4 to more than one student, this list is not necessary for you. However, if I were teaching only one student, I would still create the lesson packets I created (detailed below). I also did not make ALL these copies on my first prep day. Only lessons 1-20 – a good month’s work of work – are prepped and ready to go.

Saxon 5/4 Prep

Since I am in the habit of prepping Saxon Math 1-3 on a bi-monthly basis, I considered prepping Saxon 5/4 in the same manner. But once I got started, I realized I could easily prep an entire month’s-worth of work in one sitting.

I created 2 folders for Saxon 5/4 – one for my student and one for me.

Into the student’s folder go the first two week’s work for the next month, along with all the extras. Into my folder go the last two week’s work for the next month and my “Master” copies for future lessons.

The Saxon Math 5/4 Student Folder

I created a simple file folder for my student and labeled it “Grace Math 5/4.” Onto the inside front cover, I glued Recording Form A (trimmed down to fit nicely). Onto the back inside cover, I glued Recording Form D (trimmed to fit). This provides a simple and easy place for my student to record her facts practice and test scores.

Each Lesson

Two of the gems found in the back of the TWM are Recording Forms B and C. They are Lesson Worksheets (B) and Mixed Practice Solutions (C). This provides the student space to work out the problems in each lesson and record them in a neat manner. Once the student finishes her work, it provides the teacher with a simple way to “grade” the paper quickly. All the answers are in boxes, in order.

I made copies of these two forms (B and C) and stapled sets of them together for each lesson. I stapled them in the top right corner, with the front of C facing backwards. The purpose of the odd stapling is for the student to be able to easily pull them apart and place them side by side, if necessary.

Two Week’s Work

Into the Student Folder I put a small stack of papers, ordered for the next two weeks. The stack goes like this:

  • Math Facts Practice – labeled with lesson number
  • Recording Form B/C (as detailed above) – labeled with lesson number
  • Any extra worksheets needed.
  • Repeat to ten lessons
  • Test (with Recording Form E stapled to the back of it)

This stack is tucked into the Student Folder. Student Prep DONE!

The Saxon Math 5/4 Teacher Folder

I took another simple file folder and wrote “Saxon Math 5/4 – master” on the tab. On the inside front cover, I glued the Testing Schedule (trimmed to fit). The items in this folder mirror the Student Folder. The next two weeks of lessons are in the Teacher Folder (ordered, labeled, and ready to go). At the end of the first two weeks, this stack is transferred to the Student Folder.

In the back of the folder’s stack, I have all the necessary masters to make more copies when I am doing prep in future months. Teacher Prep DONE!


I am still considering how to approach the Investigations. The one gem not included in the TWM is an Investigations worksheet. Thus, my student shall be using a simple grid composition book (I got them in bulk, because 4 students) for those. For now. I may create an Investigation worksheet – stay tuned.

I hope this detailed account of my Saxon Math 5/4 prep has been a blessing to you. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Preparing your student for Saxon Math 5/4 just got a whole  lot easier.  This simple organization and prep process will save time and money

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Melissa

    I’m brand new to homeschooling and Saxon math this fall. I’m using The 2nd edition of 5/4 and only have the student book. Could I make something like this still work for my child? Any suggestions? And how many lessons a day/week do you usually cover with your child? Thanks!

    1. Leah Hudson

      Hi Melissa, Welcome to homeschooling! I do believe you need to purchase the other portions of the 5/4 curriculum – the student workbook and the soulutions manual. Sadly, I don’t have any experience with the older versions, so I am not sure how compatible the old and new editions are. I would gather the lesson numbers are different based on my read-through of Art Reed’s book. That said, your student is going to need some practice problems, so if those are not included in the older text, you will need to get those.

      Regarding timing of lessons: I haven’t started teaching 5/4 just yet, but I have set aside an hour for math/4 days a week for now. I find anything over an hour is just too much at this time. I am looking forward to seeing how my student does.

      Blessings to you as you embark on the journey. I do hope I can be a resource for you!

  2. Nicole

    I have been using Saxon 7/6, 5/4, and 3 with my kids and I it had never occurred to me to get organized with folders! I am so thankful for your detail here, I am gearing up to finish 3 and I am going to be utilizing your methods for sure. What a blessing, thank you!

    1. Leah Hudson

      So glad to be a help/encouragement to other moms!

  3. Luba

    Hi, we are going to try to work with those folders. I am almost done setting it all up. Do you have any further tips and investigations?

    Thanks for making a post like this. So useful!

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