Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Enjoying a Well-Rounded Homeschool Language Arts Program with Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {A TOS Review}

Grammar never has been one of my strong suits. Of course, as a homeschool mom, it is my responsibility to teach my children grammar. So, I really appreciate when I find a product that can help me do just that. Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, I have been working with Hannah using the brand-new Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 from Hake Publishing

Prior to the release of their Grammar and Writing 3, they did have materials for older students, from 4th through 8th grade. I was thrilled that they were releasing books that I could use with Hannah, who just finished 2nd grade. Not only is grammar and writing included in this curriculum, but there is spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary development. These topics are taught with Hake/Saxon's approach of incremental development and continual review. All in all, this seemed to be a well-rounded language arts curriculum from a respected publishing company, and I was thrilled to have Hannah get started in it. 

We received the three-book set shown above. There is a Teacher Guide, Consumable Textbook, and Writing Workbook, each of which is a soft cover book. 

Teacher Guide

This 391-page book begins with an introductory section which includes a note "To the Teacher," the Teacher Schedule, plus a script for the Grammar Meetings. The next 111 pages are the scripts for the 111 lessons in the program. 

Each lesson is broken into several sections. The optional Speaking and Listening section, and the required Vocabulary, Lesson, and Review Set sections. Scripted lines that are to be read to the students are in bold font, and instructions for the teacher to follow are in italics. The sections that are in the boxes are also found at the top of the student's textbook, and they are to follow along. The lesson itself is written out in the student textbook, but not in the Teacher Guide. 

After the section with the lesson scripts you will find the Answer Key for both the Textbook and the Writing Workbook. Each lesson's answer key is displayed on a single page so it can be shown without revealing the answers to the upcoming lessons. The answers for the Writing Lessons however show 3-4 per page. The next section contains the answer keys for the tests. Tests are given after lesson 10, and then after every fifth lesson, for a total of 22 in all. Then there are answer keys for the "More Practice" pages. Not every lesson has a sheet for more practice. Out of the 111 lessons, only 28 provide an extra sheet for more practice. Also included in the "More Practice" section are three Tricky Teasers which help children practice with the different concepts they have learned thus far. These are stories with blanks for the children to fill in like a game, where they need to fill in certain parts of grammar, similar to books I used to use growing up, and which I have seen on the backs of cereal boxes and other places. 

The Teacher Guide concludes with the reproducible Masters, for the Tests and the More Practice, including the Tricky Teasers.

Consumable Textbook

This 488-page book begins with a Table of Contents, showing the student each lesson number, along with the topic for the lesson and the page where it can be found. There is then a one-page introduction for the student, after which the lessons begin. Each lesson is between three and five pages in length, and follows the same pattern. 

At the top of the page the student will find a box containing the Grammar Meeting question and Vocabulary. 

The questions give the children a chance to practice speaking in full sentences. As this curriculum is actually created with a classroom in mind, the question is usually asked to the entire group and then they take turns answering and listening to their fellow student's answers, after which they are to spend some time discussing other's answers. While we don't have a classroom, we do have a family with four children, so I have been asking this question to all the children.

I love that the vocabulary words are derived from either Latin or Greek roots. As you can see, the root is shown along with its meaning prior to sentences which explain the new words. After these sentences are read, the children are to come up with their own sentences. I occasionally include the other children in this exercise as well, especially if Hannah is having trouble coming up with a sentence.

Next we come to the actual lesson. We just read this straight from the book while snuggling on the couch.

As a part of the lesson there are a couple of examples to help demonstrate what is being taught. Directly under the example you will find the solution. I do try to hide the solution so Hannah can try to figure the examples out on her own.

Then we come to the actual practice section. Children may need direction here, especially making sure they understand what they are being asked to do for each problem. This section will include the concepts related to the lesson and ask the child to use their new vocabulary. 

The lesson concludes with a Review Set. I usually have Hannah complete this section independently to see if she is understanding the concepts she has been taught. 

This section will have concepts from the current lesson as well as previous lessons. The numbers in parentheses under the question number indicate which lesson the concept was introduced in.

I really do appreciate that the Review Set allows the child to review previously learned topics. I have noticed there are definitely concepts Hannah is struggling with. Having the reproducible "More Practice" sheets has also been very helpful, though I do wish more lessons had them. I am curious how the authors decided which lessons would have and wouldn't have these extra practice sheets. 

As we've been working through the lessons, Hannah has been introduced to sentences, subjects and predicates, action verbs, different tenses of verbs such as present tense and past tense, nouns such as proper nouns and concrete, abstract, and collective nouns. We've also looked at words with short and long vowels. As we continue through the books she will learn other spelling rules along with many other grammar rules, and we will even get into diagramming sentences. 

The student's Consumable Textbook concludes with an index.

According to the Teacher Schedule, as I mentioned above, after lesson ten and then after every five lessons thereafter the child is to take a test. It is also at that time that they are scheduled to use the Writing Workbook.

Writing Workbook

This 92-page book contains 21 lessons. The student will focus on the sentence for four lessons, the paragraph for six lessons, and then will move on to different forms of writing, such as persuasive, expository, narrative, and descriptive. At the end of the book they will be asked to write a chapter summary. Not only do they work on writing, but they are required to evaluate their writing. They will be able to use concepts they have been working on in their textbook.

After lesson 10 there is a writing lesson on The Sentence, focusing on subjects and predicates.

How are we using Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3?

Hannah has what we call "mommy time" two times during the week, so we used that time to work on grammar after she reads to me for a while. As it is recommended to use this program at least three times a week we also added time on Wednesday for sitting down to use the book. We didn't get as far into the book as I would have liked as I did have a sick little girl one week, plus last week was VBS/no-regular-school week. Additionally, we did end up needing to spend more time on review than I thought we were going to. So, some days, instead of doing a new lesson, I photocopied the "More Practice" sheet or went over the previous lesson. 

We would sit on the couch or loveseat and discuss the Grammar Meeting question, sometimes asking her siblings if they weren't in the middle of their school work. Then we would work on vocabulary.

Then I would read the lesson information to her, making sure she understood the concept being taught. Though, there were times I thought she understood, but then realized she wasn't quite "getting it" while she worked on the practice questions.

Then we went over the practice questions.

I then have her work on the Review Set as independently as possible. Sometimes she remains on the couch, other times she sits at the table. 

As you can see, she does still require some guidance with certain concepts:

I absolutely appreciate that there is review of past concepts in every lesson. Things that Hannah was struggling with toward the beginning of the review period are now better understood. At first I didn't understand the approach that this curriculum takes. This approach is actually the same approach that was developed for the Saxon Math program by John Saxon. After using Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing for the past six weeks, and glancing through the books to see what is coming in the future, I can definitely see the benefits of this approach which is explained on Hake Publishing's website on the page titled Grammar and Writing Pedagogy

I really love how the topics are spaced over time and there is continual review. Hannah has also mentioned how she likes the way she gets to review every day. She is really enjoying getting to learn grammar concepts she didn't know before. Though I think she is a bit frustrated, as am I, that the lines given at times are not quite long enough for her to write in. 

I admit, Hannah does struggle with her handwriting and it is a bit sloppy . I actually am not sure what a 3rd grader's handwriting should look like. However, I did notice that some of the spaces would just barely fit their typed words, such as "multiplication" in the picture below. And young children are not going to print as small as typed words. Honestly, if this didn't state it was a consumable textbook, I probably would have been having Hannah write her answers in a notebook. In fact, I am debating having her doing any writing in a notebook from now on, as we do love the program and don't want to let such a small issue interfere with her enjoyment of the work.

All in all Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 is a wonderful language arts program. I am amazed at what Hannah has begun to remember, and I am pleased that she is actually enjoying her lessons. For me as the parent, the lesson is easy to teach as it is laid out nicely. It is nice knowing that each lesson is going to follow the same format. All I have to do is read the lesson information, which actually helps me re-learn concepts as well. With only 10 to 15 Review Set questions so far, in addition to the practice that we work on together, the lesson is short enough to keep her attention and not bore her. I did notice that there will be more questions per lesson as we get further into the book. We'll have to see how she deals with this when we get to these lessons, perhaps I will allow her to spread the lessons out a bit more, or we will do grammar every day of the week. Either way, we will continue with this program, as I feel it is very well thought out and, as I thought when I first looked at it, quite well-rounded. 

Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3.

Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {Hake Publishing Reviews}

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  1. Looks interesting. I am in need of a new English book for my son. I just might get this for him. Thanks for the review. It was really helpful.

  2. Thanks for the detailed review, I have been on the hunt for a better Language arts program. It is so helpful to see the inside of the book and know (from someone actually using it) what the "flow" is.


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