Timberdoodle is one of the oldest distributors for the homeschool market, but they have always filled a unique niche with their emphasis on experiential learning with hands-on activities and games. Rather than publishing their own resources they select their favorites from hundreds of publishers. While they do carry some traditional resources like math and grammar workbooks, they have tended towards “fun” resources more than others. Consequently, when Timberdoodle decided to assemble grade level programs for preschool through high school, they included puzzles, science kits, and other hands-on learning materials along with a number of resources that have been among my Top Picks. For example, the package for first grade includes Phonics Pathways, Mathematical Reasoning, Story of the World, Reason for Handwriting, and Apologia’s Exploring Creation, all of which are or have been in my Top Picks. Along with them you get two readers and other worktexts: JUMP at Home Math, Sandi Queen’s Language Lessons for the Very Young 1, Daily Geography, Daily Math Word Problems, Daily 6-Trait Writing, and Spectrum Test Prep. Hands-on resources include a set of Cuisneaire Rods, a Block Builder set, Djeco Discover Colors: Hide and Seek, a MinkLuk board and workbooks (primarily for critical thinking skills), a Puzzleball globe, Thinking Putty, a Smencil, and Learning Wrap-Ups for addition and subtraction. Purchasing items as the complete core curriculum gives you significant savings over purchasing items individually.
Teaching Textbooks, Easy Grammar, All American History, Wordsmith Craftsman, Argument Builder, and the James Madison Critical Thinking Course are a few more of my Top Picks that show up in packages for other grade levels.
These kits are complete for most grade levels; you might want to add a bible curriculum, and for teens you need to add foreign language and high school science labs. Packages for grades one through eleven even include a Test Prep book. Each set comes with Timberdoodle’s Planning Folder with weekly checklists that lay out assignments simply enough for students to follow on their own. (Free schedules are also available online.) Many resources are written from a Christian worldview perspective and some are specifically Protestant.
Preschool packages, offered at three levels, are heavily laden with hands-on and experiential learning resources. While younger children need more interaction and instruction, once children are able to read independently they can complete many lessons on their own. Some of the kits and hands-on activities will require supervision and assistance.
Most of the resources are easy to use and make it simple for inexperienced homeschoolers to just jump into the lessons without having to do any advance planning or preparation. The assortment of resources is almost certainly going to prove more interesting to most children than would a single publisher’s complete line of traditional curricula. These two factors make Timberdoodle’s grade level packages a great option for families who need an easy-to-use program that’s appealing to both parents and children.
Note: since I originally wrote this review, Timberdoodle has expanded to offer three options for each kit: basic, complete, and elite. Basic includes only the bare essentials, while complete adds more, and the elite kit has all you need plus extras such as hands-on resources.