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7th Grade Math- Saxon

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We are currently finishing Saxon 8/7, just finished lesson 105, and had the test.  She is just missing 2 or 3 on the tests, and those are mostly careless mistakes.  The only thing we've done that she hasn't mastered are Order of Operations with lots of steps and I think that's more a maturity/organization thing rather than a misunderstanding of it.  We should finish in January or February, and I'm wondering what to do for the rest of the year.  Things I'm considering:


Saxon Al 1/2 - I think I want to do this anyway, but next year in 8th grade.  We could start now, and then re-do it next year?  Or test through next year and maybe start Al 1 at Christmas?  She tested into both 8/7 and Al 1/2 at the beginning of the year, but didn't want to do the PreAl at the beginning of 7th grade.  (I have this already from an older child)


Keys To Series-  NOt sure which ones to do- this one costs $$, but seems cheap enough, especially if I just ick a few sections to do.  I can't decide if this is a good choice, or the quality of the workbooks based on the on-line reviews.  I'd definitely hit area/measurements and order of operations section, and probably fractions, too.  I'm not sure what level these really cover to, though.


Jousting Armadillos- I think I can borrow this, but not sure if the conversational style will fit good w/ this kid.  I loved the other 2 books for my oldest, but not sure if it will fit this DD or not.


I also have MM 7A that I could print out and do, so that would be close to free, too.  


I've considered TT, but everyone I know w/ PreAl already has it loaned out, and I do not want to actually purchase it.  DD seems not interested in computer based programs anyway, like Khan.  DD isn't a 'strong' math student, I would call her a high average.  She has to work hard to get an A, but she puts the work in!  She does not like math, never has, but does prefer Saxon over the other series we've tried.  She needs the constant review to keep it in her mind.  She also gets bored from doing the same type of problem 10000x in a row.  


I would love advice or suggestions of other  routes I should look into.  I do not want anything stressful, extremely challenging (like AoPS), or programs that are wordy.   

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My dd is almost done with Saxon 8/7 and I am thinking about adding Jousting Armadillos to our math routine. I feel like Saxon is giving my dd a good foundation but there is no math playfulness or delight in it. Since we are in no hurry to do Algebra, I am hoping that the alternating days of Saxon, which is such a good foundation, and JA which looks juicier, might be a well rounded math education. 

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Are you talking about the Key to Fractions/Percents/Decimals?  Or Key to Algebra?  Or...?  Only do the Key to Series for the first ones I listed if your child is weak in Fractions/Percents/Decimals specifically.  If those are weak areas then since all three are interrelated I would start with book one of each and interweave them.  You can sometimes get the entire set of all three topics at all levels, including the answer keys, for pretty cheap through Amazon.  Put it in your cart and wait for a good price.  Actually, what I did with DD that worked well was start with Book 1 Fractions, then Book 2 Fractions and Book 1 Decimals, then Book 3 Fractions Book 2 Decimals Book 1 Percents, and so on.  I would not use this series to introduce these topics but I found using the books as mentioned really helped solidify weak areas.


I think adding in a different approach (since Saxon tends to be pretty dry) would be a better way to go during the spring (although you could run Key to alongside something else).  Jousting Armadillos might be a good choice as mentioned by others.  Have you looked at the resources in the Relaxed Math thread?  Don't let the title fool you.  There are a lot of great resources in there and I wouldn't call most of them "relaxed" but they take things from a different angle and can add some joy into math.



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I'm not sure which Keys to books to use, I can't determine the difficulty level from the samples.  I thought I'd decide which topic to cover, but the examples look really simple, do they really cover to algebra level?  I've also got MIF middle school courses, and I could skip around in those, picking the chapters we are weaker in.  We may be ready for ALgebra 1 next year in 8th grade, but I don't want to push or rush the PreAl.  I think she does gte the decimals/fractions/percents and how they are related, so I'd probably just get Keys to ALgebra- and only the units I want to work on, like area, unit multiplier conversions, order of operations (I want this to be pretty complete, it's hard to determine the level).  She knows the OoOp, but getting it all done properly with lots of brackets takes a while and a step by step process.  


I'll look at the relaxed math resources, and see if I can borrow JA soon, and go through it to see if it will fit.  I love the other 2 Arbor School books, and ofund them to be a great way to show how math works.

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"Key to..." workbooks series targets specific areas.  Most of that series is not a full curriculum for the topic workbooks.  Key to fractions targets fractions.  Key to Decimals targets Decimals.  etc.  There are quite a few books in the series covering various specific math topics.  They all start out very basic and ramp up.   Let me give you an example...


Key to Fractions starts with basic, basic fractions.  Very basic.  It uses pictures to explain what is happening, not drill and kill.  Each lesson adds to the previous lesson.  It works its way up to more and more advanced fractions concepts with each page.  Small steps so it can seem simple because of its gentle approach but it gets pretty advanced.  There are 4 books.  It tries to use clear illustrations to help a student understand conceptually what is happening (not to the level of something like Beast Academy but it does a pretty good job).  Pages are well laid out, there aren't a lot of sudden leaps and the booklets don't take a ton of time to get through.  They can be a great way to shore up any gaps.  There are 4 workbooks for each of the topic groups, as far as I know.  Each lesson is a building block from the lesson before and each workbook targets specific areas while also stepping up the level overall.


Maybe the Cathy Duffy review would help:



There is also a Key to Algebra series that is considered a complete Algebra program (although lighter than many) but it has 10 workbooks and would take much longer to get through.



FWIW, a lot of kids who struggle with Algebra tend to struggle because of a weak foundation in Fractions/Percents/Decimals.  I know I certainly did.  I wish I had had Key to ...on those topics when I was in Middle school.  They are a great review.  But if your child is really solid on these I don't know that you need them.  Unfortunately I don't think there is a placement test.  Most people I know who have used it (regardless of the age of their child) simply started with Book 1 and moved forward from there.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You don't need to do both 8/7 and algebra 1/2, but if you want to, I'd suggest testing through the review chapters at the beginning. There's always 40 or so lessons of review. You can just give the tests until they get more difficult and then start there. There is so much review built into Saxon that she'd still get review of the earlier chapters in the lessons. Then I'd work through that, and if she finishes it by the end of the year, you could start Algebra 1 in 8th.

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