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 and other hands-on learning materials. Kits also include STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) resources, critical thinking books and activities, and a number of items that have been among my Top Picks.
Timberdoodle has a line of classic kits for all grade levels that have some religious content. There are three options for each grade level: basic, complete, and elite. Basic includes only the bare essentials, while the complete kit adds more including resources for science and history, and the elite kit has all that you need plus extras such as additional hands-on resources, art courses, or the audio version of one of The Story of the World books. Timberdoodle also has a line of non-religious kits with two options: complete and elite. Complete and elite kits for grades one through eleven include a Test Prep book. Purchasing items as kits gives you significant savings over purchasing items individually.
To give you a better idea of what a kit looks like, the elite kit for first grade includes Timberdoodle's Curriculum Handbook (one that is specifically for first-grade level and this school year), All About Reading: Level 2 Deluxe, Math-U-See: Alpha, SpellingYouSee: Level B, Story of the World: Volume 1, and Science in the Beginning (plus lab set), all of which are or have been among my Top Picks. Along with them, you get resources such as aSkill Sharpeners: Geography - Grade 1, Daily 6-Trait Writing: Grade 1, Critical and Creative Thinking Activities 1, Spark Publishing's Test Prep: Grade 1, and the workbook What's New? What's Missing? What's Different? Hands-on and STEM resources include items such as the Plus-Plus 1200 Pieces Mini Basic building set, Robotis Pets: PLAY 600, Do Art: Coloring with Clay, a MiniLUK board and workbooks (primarily for critical thinking skills), ScrunchMap World, Aquarellum: Cosmos Set, Doodle Washington D.C., Imagidice (storytelling cubes), Mobi Kids (math game), Smart Cookies (critical thinking puzzle), Postman Observation Game, Artistic Patch: Cosmos Foil (craft project), Famous Figures of Ancient Times, and Learning Wrap-Ups for addition and subtraction.
Examples of some of the other resources include in various levels of the Timberdoodle kits are First Language Lessons, Easy Grammar, Building Thinking Skills, America the Beautiful, Uncle Sam and You, The Mystery of History, The Story of the World, and Medical Investigation 101. Complete and elite kits also include STEM resources for both book learning and activities such as the Turing Tumble kit in the sixth-grade kit (with activities for learning computer logic and introductory programming skills) and a STEMnex V8 Model Engine kit in the tenth-grade kit.
Preschool packages that are offered at three levels—Tiny Tots, Preschool, and PreK—are heavily laden with hands-on and experiential learning resources. These Timberdoodle preschool kits are perfect for families who prefer to wait till kindergarten or later before introducing formal academic learning.
Each kit comes with a Timberdoodle's Curriculum Handbook written particularly for that level. Timberdoodle's Curriculum Handbooks include reproducible record-keeping charts listing resources and reading lists for that level, While you can photocopy these for each week, you can also use Timberdoodle's free online Schedule Customizer to create your own charts that allow you to adjust your schedule and change the checklists to fit exactly the resources that you are using. The format of the charts is easy enough for students about third grade and above to check off on their own. The bulk of each Timberdoodle's Curriculum Handbook consists of an explanation for how to use each item in your kit. Most items in each kit are self-contained and don't need any further instructions in the Handbook, but additional instruction is included when the product isn't self-explanatory.
Even with the elite kits, some families might want to add a Bible curriculum. For teens, you probably need to add a foreign language. Timberdoodle recommends Fluenz Homeschool for foreign language, but it isn't included in the kits. You also might want to add lab activity to some of the high school kits for college-bound students. While ninth-grade and twelfth-grade kits include Friendly Biology and Friendly Chemistry, respectively (which both have easy-to-do labs), other high school levels have minimal lab activity or only videos of lab activity which might not be sufficient.
In the non-secular kits, a few resources are written from a Christian perspective and some are specifically Protestant. The secular kits were created by removing or replacing religious materials in the standard or elite kits. For example, the tenth grade complete and elite kits use The Mystery of History Volume 4, which is Protestant, while the secular kit substitutes the secular course People, Places, and Events of World History. In addition, Timberdoodle will help you put together a custom kit for any level.
Most of the resources Timberdoodle has selected are easy to use and make it simple for inexperienced homeschoolers to jump into the lessons without having to do hardly any advance planning or preparation. The amount of "teaching" time required will vary by level. While younger children need more interaction and instruction, once children are able to read independently they can complete many lessons on their own. For high school, the instructions are written directly to the student, assuming that they are completing their work independently.
The assortment of resources in the Timberdoodle kits is almost certainly going to prove more engaging for most children than would a single publisher’s complete line of traditional curricula. Interesting resources coupled with ease-of-use make Timberdoodle’s curriculum kits a great option for busy families that should appeal to both parents and children.