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Preschool at home, oh brave soul! As a former infant and toddler teacher, I thought piecing together a working curriculum would be fun–but I quickly discovered it’s costly and time consuming.
While balancing all the spinning elements of work, family and home, the desire to put it all together from scratch dissipated and I began looking for curriculum kits.
Timberdoodle was my winner for multiple reasons: the ability to customize kits, high quality and updated materials, and an emphasis on materials that incorporate Montessori techniques (at least in preschool) and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) materials.
Timberdoodle’s website provides many resources to help beginning (and experienced) homeschoolers get started. You can shop by curriculum kits, by subject, or by grade level. If you have a child between 2-5 years old and aren’t sure what curriculum level they are at, you can have them do this fun placement test which will identify their current skill levels.
There are 3 different price points that curriculum kits are offered at:
- Basic – most affordable, but does not cover all subject areas
- Complete – covers all subject areas adequately, with some fun extras
- Elite – highest price, but includes a lot of great additions for learning
In addition to these three click-n-go kits, you can also customize your kit by subtracting or substituting materials. This is what I chose to do!
Please note that Timberdoodle does update their kit offerings every year and items may change.
Timberdoodle Preschool Kits cover eight subject areas: Language Arts, Math, Thinking Skills, Geography & Social Studies, Science, Fine & Gross Motor Skills, Art, and STEM.
Each kit comes with a Curriculum Handbook that provides a basic lesson plan, reading challenge, and further instructions and patterns for some of the manipulative sets. I especially love this handbook because it makes it so easy. I don’t have to lesson plan or create anything–it’s all set out for me!
When I customized my kit, I looked at each item on Amazon.com and compared prices. Some were cheaper, some were more expensive. Some books I was able to buy used or found that they are at our local library. If you’re looking to save a bit, doing this price comparison is worth it.
These are books and puzzles that increase thinking skills, literary awareness and letter work. We chose to get a few key pieces, but left out things we already had similar items of.
- A is for Angry
- Crepe Foam Alphabet Puzzles (uppercase) and (lowercase)
- Usborne Picture Puzzle Book
- Montessori Letter Work
- Touch Think Learn ABC
What I Did Not Get:
- My Wonderful Nursery Rhyme Collection
- Usborne Zoo Picture Puzzle Book
- Usborne Farm Picture Puzzle Book
- Usborne Under the Sea Picture Puzzle Book
Preschool math cornerstones on Farmland Math, a Timberdoodle exclusive. While you can purchase the farm counters separately, you will only find the mat and instruction book on Timberdoodle’s site.
- Farmland Math or (Jumbo Farm Counters only)
- Mathematical Reasoning Beginning 1 PreK 3 Workbook
- The Usborne Big Books of Things to Spot
- Montessori Number Work
Thinking skills are so critical for young children and at this age they are largely learned through logic games. I chose to add all 4 materials in this category for that reason!
- Building Thinking Skills Beginning Workbook
- Day and Night Puzzle
- Q-bitz Jr Logic Game
- Bunny Peek-A-Boo Logic Game
Geography & Social Studies
Learning about the world around you is crucial at a young age, but is easily experienced by travel, museums, trips to the library and conversations. We chose the Montessori map book to own and will get the other books at the library.
What I Did Not Get:
My toddler is incredibly hands-on, so this was another priority area for us. You could easily use kitchen materials to do experiments with, but I love the ease of the lab set and giving her special equipment to call her own.
Fine & Gross Motor Skills
This is an area you will have to evaluate based on your preschooler’s current skill level and what you already have at home. We chose to exclude most of these items because Maddie is already pretty good with child size scissors, has plenty of dot-to-dot books, balls and play dough we make at home.
What I Did Not Get:
Like with Fine & Gross Motor, these are materials that many of us already have similar items to. When evaluating what we could afford, these extras just didn’t make the list because of what we already have.
What I Did Not Get:
- Draw & Learn Faces
- Broadline Jumbo Markers
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) materials are hands on, kinesthetic sets that focus on skills like building, spatial skills, construction and design.
In a technological world, these skills are imperative and in our home this kind of educational focus is an absolute non-negotiable. I was drawn to Timberdoodle primarily because of how hands-on and STEM oriented their teaching is.
- Plus Plus Midi 150 pc Basic
- HAPE Dynamo Dominoes
- Tegu Oceans Magnetic Blocks (the wheels are a Timberdoodle exclusive with the set)
Tiny Tots Curriculum
Timberdoodle’s kit for the youngest set (0-2) is amazing, but I felt the best investment would be in upcoming skills that we could use for the next 2 years. However, I did pick out two items from the Tiny Tots Kit and added them to my order. I’m so glad I did as Maddie absolutely loves both of these!
Does Timberdoodle Match a Simple Living Lifestyle?
While Timberdoodle kits, especially for younger children, do have a lot of possible components, the beauty is that you can choose what you want to bring into your home.
Education is a high priority in our home, so I chose to invest in most of the hands-on pieces, and in turn, limit the number of other toys that are kept in our home. Gifts for holidays and birthdays will be more limited in these years because these materials are essentially new toys!
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be complicated or have a million pieces–it’s very much your preference. For us, Timberdoodle makes learning fun and simple, and that resonates with our family. You may want to check out the Top 4 Factors when considering preschool homeschool to help you define what your family’s priorities are.