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Grammar & Writing 5 Review by Courtney Larson

Stephen Hake
Saxon Homeschool
181 Ballardvale Street
Wilmington, MA 01887

Grammar & Writing 5 is a complete grammar and writing program for fifth grade. The homeschool kit includes a Student Textbook, a Student Workbook, and a Teacher Packet. This program covers grammar, writing, spelling, and vocabulary.

Grammar and Writing 5 is written with an incremental approach to grammar, with continual review built in. If you are familiar with Saxon Math, the approach in this product is very similar. The Student Textbook contains the instruction, and it is written directly to the student. The Student Workbook contains the writing lessons and extra practice for concepts taught in the textbook. The Teacher Packet includes the answer key as well as tests. There are 112 grammar lessons, 31 writing lessons, and 22 tests. Tests are given after every five grammar lessons (except for the first test, which is given after the first ten lessons). There is a chart in the front of the Teacher Packet that schedules the grammar lessons, writing lessons, and tests.

The lessons and dictation in Grammar and Writing 5 are based mostly on American history and geography, so the student is learning about America as he works on his language arts. Some of the grammar concepts covered in level 5 include nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives, direct and indirect objects, conjunctions, phrases and clauses, appositives, pronouns, adverbs, and interjections. Also included are lessons on capitalization and punctuation as well as diagramming. Five lessons are dedicated to various spelling rules.

A typical day begins with copywork, journaling, or dictation. It is suggested that the student copy the dictation selection (there are enough dictation selections in the back of the Student Textbook for thirty weeks) on Monday so they can study it throughout the week in preparation for dictation on Friday. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the student is supposed to spend about five minutes writing on a journal topic. There are 100 journal topics provided in the back of the Student Textbook.

At the beginning of every grammar lesson is a box with the day's vocabulary words. There are two or three words daily, and each word has a definition and a sentence showing how to use the word. After studying the vocabulary words, the student reads the grammar lesson. Following the grammar lesson are practice problems for the concept taught in the lesson. Some lessons also include "More Practice," which either provides additional practice problems in the text or directs the student to a worksheet located in the Student Workbook. Following the "Practice" portion is the "Review Set." This section includes review of previous lessons' concepts and vocabulary words. The lesson number where the concept was introduced is included in parenthesis next to the problem (which is very helpful when the student has forgotten what they previously learned). There are typically 30 questions in the "Review Set."

The writing instruction in Grammar and Writing 5 takes the student from basic paragraph formation into essay writing. It teaches how to write a persuasive essay, an expository essay, a personal narrative, a descriptive essay, and an imaginative story. The basics are taught in the first several lessons. So before the student is asked to write an essay, he has learned how to form a good sentence and paragraph and how to construct a five-paragraph essay.

I really am impressed with Grammar and Writing 5. It was easy to use, and I love that dictation is included. I didn't choose to use the journal entry topics, but if journal writing is something you'd like to do with your child, it would be very handy to have this list of topics. The instruction is clear, and my son was able to read and understand the lessons without my assistance. My biggest complaint about this product is the quality of the books. The paper is thin, even in the reusable textbook, and the covers are flimsy. I am a bit concerned about how well it's going to hold up through the year, let alone through multiple children. However, the content and presentation are great. I would highly recommend that you take a look at Grammar and Writing 5 if you're looking for a language arts program for your child.

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2009