As promised, here is my initial review of my Timberdoodle kit. Keep in mind that I have not yet used any of the curriculum with Bug. I will hopefully follow up with an in-depth review near the end of the school year.
In preparation for our 2017-2018 school year, which will start in August, I took advantage of the pre-sale and purchased the Secular Kindergarten 2017 Timberdoodle Curriculum Kit, in the elite version.
Let’s start with a quick review of Timberdoodle as a company. I have never worked with a company so committed to excellent customer service. Someone is always available to help and they have never failed to answer a question. I’ve even spoken with the same customer service agent enough times that she should be sick of me, but she is always gracious and goes beyond the call of duty, even running to the warehouse once to check my order for me. I feel like any company putting that much care into answering every single tiny question, would hopefully be putting the same amount of care into choosing the best learning products for kids.
Moving on to the kit: I have examined each piece and read the handbook, and I could not be more excited. Even Bug said “there’s so much cool stuff!” Here is our kit:
List of Included Items:
- 2017 Secular Curriculum Handbook – Kindergarten
- I Can Doodle Rhymes
- The Usborne Big Drawing Book
- Aquarellum Mini – Elephants
- Big Book of Things to Find and Color
- Origami Animals
- Beginning Geography
- Geopuzzle Complete Boxed Set of 6
- This Is How We Do It
- Usborne Sticker Dressing Emergency Services
- What Your Kindergartener Needs To Know
- The Reading Lesson Book
- Spelling You See Level A Universal Set
- Itty Bitty Phonics Readers Collection
- Now I’m Reading! Level 1: Big Fun
- Square Panda Phonics Playset
- Math-U-See Primer Universal Set
- ALEX Ready Set Bodies
- Usborne – Look Inside Your Body
- Little Labs: The Human Body
- Visible Human Floor Puzzle
- My Body in Action
- ThinkPlay STEM Gears 400pc Set
- Geo Shape Lacing
- Developing the Early Learner
- Little Red Riding Hood
- Kumon Amazing Mazes
- Kumon Kindergarten Logic
- Morph Sunburst Yellow
- Jumbo GRIP Pencils – 2 Pack
- GRIP Colored EcoPencils – 12ct
- Kum 4-in-1 Pencil Sharpener
- Koh-I-Noor Magic FX PencilsThe Pros and Cons So Far:
As a reminder, I haven’t used this stuff yet, so these are pretty short lists so far.
I’ll be honest, the kit comes with a hefty price tag of $789.35. It’s a great deal for the amount of curriculum you get, but still a large sum of money and that can be quite a burden.
The flexibility of the schedule is a huge advantage for me. The handbook breaks down how to use the materials on a weekly basis to fill a 36 week school year. The weekly schedule makes it extremely simple to follow the timeline and keep track of what you’ve done. In addition Timberdoodle provides access to their online schedule customizer in case you want to operate on a different timeline like we do.
The amount of stuff. There is enough material that it seems like we won’t get bored and won’t need to supplement much more than with library books for extra curricular reading (because we’d really like to complete the reading list included in the handbook). But it also isn’t too much that things won’t get used at some point.
The ability to read through the handbook and immediately be able to dive in if you want. I am extremely detail oriented, and a heavy planner, so I’m taking extra time to read through all of the parent manuals and really prepare myself. But it isn’t strictly necessary to do that if you’re ready to hit the ground running.
There is a lot of cross-over among the subjects. All of the pieces build on each other and provide repetition without boredom. And as I’ve said before, I very much subscribe to the philosophy that “in repetition there is learning.”
Will this kit work with your teaching style?
If you’re really strongly into a specific teaching style, I would say probably not (for those who want to know more about teaching style see my post Do I Have To Have a Teaching Style??). There is a huge variety in the material, from workbooks to building sets. It doesn’t lend itself to any particular style. It has good foundational elements of the basics, like teaching reading, math, and spelling. But it’s heavy in the hands-on learning and focuses on teaching a good balance of convergent and divergent thinking, with an emphasis on divergent thinking and problem solving. All in the super-fun form of playing games and building.
Why Did WE Choose This Route?
While I have done TONS of curriculum research, and could have put together my own plan, finding something and somewhere that already has everything I wanted put together for me was HUGE timesaver. And let’s face it, homeschooling is time consuming and anything that helps save time is great.
Being new to homeschooling has come with a certain level of fear for me. I don’t want to mess this up. For Pre-K I put together my own curriculum. I took ideas from all over and designed activities from all of those ideas. I really didn’t feel confident that my own abilities would be good enough to stand alone for Kindergarten. Fortunately, I also feel like there is still a little room for error. At this age I am still going for a strong play-based learning environment, so there’s a chance here for some experimentation. The Timberdoodle kit has so much variety that it will hopefully give us a better, more clear picture of exactly what works best for us. I’m confident that we will learn from using it, even if it’s not the right fit and we don’t continue using their kits in later years.
At the risk of being repetitive, one of the biggest reasons I went with this kit is because of the hands-on style. Because it’s comprised of a lot of toys, but with handbooks for how to use those toys to really teach a huge number of skills.
To sum up: I really think this kit is a great choice for Kindergarten, and it can work for anyone. I am thrilled with the quality of the products we received, and I cannot wait to get started.