Well, here it is! My final review of our Secular Kindergarten 2017 Timberdoodle Curriculum Kit (Elite). If you didn’t read my initial “out-of-the-box” review, you can check it out here. We have been using the kit since August and I’ve decided that I’m comfortable enough with it to give my final review. Hopefully this will give people some time to think about it before the 2018 kits are released.
Again, I’d like to start by commenting on Timberdoodle as a company. Their customer service, as always, far surpasses that of many other companies I have worked with. The best thing about Timberdoodle though is that they are constantly striving to find the best educational toys and games out there. Their site is always the first place I look when people ask what gifts the kids would like. It’s a great place to find stuff that’s fun for the kids, but feels good and purposeful for me too. The only negative thing I really have to say is that I would love site-wide free shipping (I’ve been spoiled by Amazon).
Moving on to the kit. I’m sure the burning question is: Would I buy it again? YES. Bottom line, if I could do kindergarten over again as a first timer, this is still the route I would take. I will, in fact, be doing kindergarten a second time around with my daughter. Will I use the kit? Most likely. But maybe differently. My daughter has a drastically different personality than my son, so I don’t quite know what her needs will be in a few years. But the best thing about the kit is that it’s so flexible. I am still a believer that this particular kit can work for almost any kid, because the materials are fun. It also helps that much of it can span across different age ranges. Baby Lady already gets involved in our activities as much as she can.
I bet you’d also like to know if I will use the first grade kit. Yes and no. I have grown and learned so much this year (with the help of having a pre-made curriculum) that I now feel that I can pick and choose and tailor our curriculum to fit all of our needs. But there are still many items from the first grade kit that I intend to use. I will update sometime next year with all of our first grade choices.
Now, since there are so many products included in the kit, and they sort of span different subjects, I’d like to just give some information on my most and least favorite items.
1) The Reading Lesson – Bug has gone from having a basic understanding of the alphabet (in August), to now (in December) being able to read almost anything with very little assistance. I attribute a lot of this to The Reading Lesson. Of course reading, like anything, requires practice, so we still spend a lot of time doing other reading together; us reading to him, and him reading to us (from all different levels of reading materials). But The Reading Lesson is what helped him learn to put sounds together and start decoding the words. He LOVES that he can read now, and the instant gratification from The Reading Lesson is a huge plus. I cannot recommend it enough.
2) The Usborne Big Drawing Book – This book is filled with fun, colorful step-by-step drawing how-to’s. Bug used to dislike anything to do with drawing and now he asks to draw on a regular basis.
3) Little Red Riding Hood – A very neat little one-player game that promotes problem solving. I also love that even when Bug isn’t solving the puzzles he still uses it to pretend and make fun stories and scenarios.
4) Developing The Early Learner – While I’m normally not a big advocate of workbooks, this set provided a huge insight into some skill areas that Bug was struggling in, and corrected them with fun activities.
1) What Your Kindergartner Needs To Know – We used this maybe three times. This the one thing that I would absolutely leave out if I could do it over. Not because there is anything wrong with it, it just isn’t necessary. It’s overkill. The kit already has everything you need (and maybe more). And while the book does have some good stories, I could find better versions of them at the public library.
2) Geo Shape Lacing – I actually have mixed feelings about this one. The concept is great. It’s excellent for developing coordination. But we struggled with it. The instructions are (maybe purposefully?) vague. This makes it difficult to complete some of the patterns. We had tons of problems with not know where to start and running out of string, while this is good for problem solving, for a kindergartener it makes it extremely discouraging. It may be something Bug will like later, so we’ve put it away for now. I’d also like to say that I’ve read other reviews for it that are very good.
3) ThinkPlay Gears – While this may be on my least favorite list, Bug actually enjoys it. I dislike the instructions. They aren’t color specific, and they’re not as clear and directive as Lego sets. Meaning he needs a lot of help with them, which he’s not used to. My other issue is that it takes forever to find the pieces you need for each project, even after I sorted them all into their own ziplocks. But it is still actually a neat way to show how gears work.
So, overall, I am still really happy we chose this kit for kindergarten. It’s fun, easy to use, and doesn’t feel too overwhelming. Which are the things I wanted most out of our kindergarten curriculum. And it’s a good sign that we haven’t just trashed the whole thing and decided to do something different (haha!). It’s also a good sign that if you ask Bug if he likes kindergarten he always says yes, even with the bad days. For the record, he says his favorite thing is science.
As a final note, would I recommend it to others? As always, I believe that depends entirely on you, your child(ren), and your family. But I don’t think you can really go too wrong with it no matter what. Kindergarten is a great time for exploring how you’d like your homeschool to be, and I think this kit provides a good opportunity for exploration because it offers so much variety. Hopefully this will help some of you make a good choice for your homeschool.
*This review is in no way sponsored or endorsed by Timberdoodle.