Archives For Timberdoodle

I love it when our homeschooling is moving ahead with everyone pretty confident about their coursework and content with their schedules.

But, the reality of teaching several kids at different stages often translates into learning curves for all of us as we go through the year.

While most of our curriculum is working this year, I noticed a few things that needed tweaking. Two things stood out to me:

  1. Nick needed more English—especially Grammar practice
  2. Emma was bored with her Math

As I did not want to change up my major curriculum choices, I was not quite sure what to do. Luckily for me, I happened to get a chance to review some homeschool curriculum from Timberdoodle and The Critical Thinking Press.

I was inspired by the bright colors and entertaining artwork of The Critical Thinking Co. books. I liked the theme of challenging kids to think–developing critical thinking habits is an integral part of all their products.

And, I liked the idea of supplementing our current schedule with some items that would appeal to the kids and filled an important need in our curriculum.

As I was able to choose some books to fit the children, I chose Math Reasoning Level A (kindergarten) for Emma, and Editor In Chief C2, for Nick.

The book for Emma was an instant hit and totally solved our “boredom with math problem”. She loves this workbook. I was also thrilled with the colorful, sturdy pages that introduce and explain new math topics very well.

Bright graphics and positive reinforcement really motivate

Bright graphics and success really motivate!

The 250 pages reinforce many beginning math concepts without becoming dreary, as the authors introduce a concept, work on it for a few pages and then move to something else…and come back around.

For the first time ever, Em liked doing the number lines

For the first time ever, Em liked the number lines

This method of spiraling through many concepts gave Emma lots of practice while never leaving her frustrated and mathematical reasoningbored—the authors seemed to know exactly when to take a break and when to keep going! I began allowing Em to do as many math pages as she wanted each day—some days she will do at least ten without any motivation from me.

As the title suggests, the book teaches reasoning and problem solving skills, with topics including: addition, bar graph, calendar, capacity, coins, count, fractions, language, length, likelihood, match, number line, odd/even, order, pattern, real world problems, shapes, subtraction, time, weight, and whole numbers.

There is an answer guide included in the back of the book and this level can be used as a core math or a supplemental. We began using this as supplemental, but I soon felt that this book could easily be Emma’s complete curriculum for this level.

Look at some sample pages from the book.

We did not fare as well for Nick’s experience. But, it was not because the book wasn’t creative and just plain challenging. Our problem was that it was too challenging!

editor in chiefYes, I made an error in judgment on what level to get for him. While this level is recommended for grade levels 9th-12th, it is a serious grammar study—fun, yet the exercises cover some complicated concepts. Attempting to work through this book really forced us to decide to regroup and focus on grammar at an earlier stage–because Nick actually wanted to do this book, as it was entertaining, it showed me that he was not just lacking in motivation.

We liked the idea of the book, Editor In Chief. In these books, your child basically acts as if they are an editor and as they search for grammatical errors, they are truly analyzing the materials and thinking about correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, capitalization and more.

The 130 page book includes an editing checklist, 33 lessons, answers, even a guide to grammar, usage and punctuation.

They do have five other levels for this book. See which Editor In Chief Book might be age-appropriate for your kids, here. We will be getting another one, so we can have a bit of fun, too.

See a sample page.

Are you looking to fill a void in your curriculum? Looking for Math curriculum? Language Arts? Check out Timberdoodle for tons of educational items, including complete curriculum kits. I so enjoy their catalog!

Click to get their free catalog!

Click to get your free catalog!

You can even get fun updates on the Timberdoodle Facebook page.

As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team, I received a free copy of these books in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Knot So Fast!!

Heather —  November 2, 2010

73626_165003200191559_100000456390392_412649_48801_nI admit it. I’m a homeschool mom. I think like a homeschool mom. When I look at things, I think…what will we learn from this? What’s the educational angle?

Which, occasionally is a little over the top. On the other hand, why not learn a new skill? What’s wrong with a challenge…where you use your brains?

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Anyway, that’s what I was thinking when I asked to review one of Timberdoodle’s educational games.

When we received Knot So Fast….I got a bit more than I bargained for! I thought the game was seriously hard. My boys didn’t have as tough a time with it, but they agreed that some of the cards were challenging.

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Personally, I think this is a great game to play with family. The cards do vary in difficulty, so little ones can enjoy as well. In all, there are 40 challenges, with levels from Beginner to Expert. Although we only played two at a time, you can play with up to four people.

The Game Includes a:

  • Tug-o-war Scorekeeper
  • 4 Ropes
  • 4 Rings
  • 30-second Timer
  • 40 Challenge Cards
  • Instruction Manual

To Play:

  • Select a Challenge Card from the deck.
  • Race to tie the knot.
  • The first to tie the knot scores a point.
  • Track points on the Tug-o-war Scorekeeper.
  • Pull the rope to your side to win!

My boys had a good time with it—of course, they had to go right to…expert level…

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Now, just be sure that you don’t have one child who “maybe” studies all the knot cards and then asks his siblings to play…

The game does foster manual dexterity and spatial awareness…and, sometimes knots DO come in handy. And, then, they totally have it. How cool is that? I know who I want to move or go sailing with!!

logo2Check out Timberdoodle for wonderful games and homeschool curriculum. I have such fun just looking through their catalog!

I received a free copy of Knot So Fast as a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team. I have given my honest opinion

Settlers of America Meets the Kids

Heather —  September 8, 2010

Some days, I am an amazing, inspired mom. And the kids all get along and play intense strategy games with educational value while working together around the beautiful coffee table I gave them for games and eating brownies…

Ok, So there were no brownies, only pretzels. And, ever since I put an adorable coffee table downstairs for them, they want to play on the floor.

But, still, the kids all got together to play the Settlers of America Trails to Rails, from the Catan history series.

I asked them to help me review the game…but I did have a secret plan…a plan to find a game that was difficult enough to hold their attention, yet fun…and one where they would not fight…you know, the trifecta.

I definitely hit the mark on finding a game that would challenge the kids. And the X Box stayed silent. I think kids really like board games deep down, sometimes where they don’t even know it.

This game has…game. Seriously. To begin, just take a look at the pieces:

  • 120 railroad tracks (in 4 colors)
  • 48 cities (in 4 colors)
  • 8 train engines (in 4 colors)
  • 8 settlers wagon (in 4 colors)
  • 1 outlaw
  • 40 goods cubes (in 4 colors)
  • 40+ die-cut gold coins (in 1 and 5 denominations)
  • 4 building cost overview charts
  • 1 map board
  • 2 dice
  • 12 die-cut number tokens
  • 95 resource cards
  • 24 development cards
  • 1 rulebook

And you will need the rulebook for the first games. I liked the quality and artwork of the board and cards and the wooden pieces. Our little one liked them, too. I liked that she was able to get some ideas about the settling of America while just hanging out with her brothers.

So, we began by getting all the pieces together and checking out all the resource cards. The game action is set in the 19th century and the players are in on the quest for westward expansion. This educational game is the latest in the Catan History Series, and just one of the many educational games Timberdoodle carries.

As play progresses, players collect and trade resources in order to build settlements, acquire locomotives and railroad routes, then race with other players to deliver the most goods.

I did especially like that the players have to work together during each turn. While ultimately there is one winner, the game had a feel that everyone was working towards a common goal. (I love that!) There was a lot of trading and building going on.

You know, I did not get this game specifically to “go” with a homeschool curriculum. I was looking for a game that had a good storyline…a theme…and wasn’t too easy.

The fact that the game could also be used to reinforce or to introduce American History and the concept of westward expansion, well that is just icing on the cake.

Overall, I think this is a good game. It is difficult, I believe. The game lasts about 2 hours and requires 3-4 players. It is marked for ages 12+ and I agree with that…although we did have one 5 year old playing.

She enjoyed all the playing pieces and really got into the resource cards. I think she learned a bit. I have no idea why her hair looked like she was from the Netherlands somewhere back in time.

I think the kids will be playing again soon…we even added a player towards the end…

The list price is $54.95, but it is on sale right now at $44.95. Also, I have not played any Catan games before and this one has me curious to go look at the others. For families, this would be one to play with your kids. Like I mentioned, it is not easy the first time, but is fun and worth learning how to play.

Check out Timberdoodle’s homeschool vodcast for all kinds of educational ideas for your kids. I really like their games and other homeschool curriculum and homeschool supplies.

As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of Settlers of America in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

When I first opened my package from Timberdoodle and pulled out the Simply Draw with Bob Parsons Materials, I was impressed with the paper quality of the contents. The text is imprinted on nice thick cardstock type sheets. I like that. It makes me think it might survive a while in our house!

041-174-2TLater, as I put the sheets of lessons in a binder (200 pages) I noticed that in each chapter some sheets are designed so that your budding artist can just draw right in his/her book, if they wish to. I like the idea of that—it kind of builds ownership—I think.  Later, I realized that the set includes a pdf set of practice pages as well—so that is useful for families with many students who want to reuse these lessons again and again.

As I looked in through all the materials, I also noticed and liked the author’s note, “The purpose of this book is to inspire people of all ages to enjoy drawing” Overall, the lessons are portrayed with a kind of cartoonish style—with a lot of pen and ink sketches. But do not be fooled by all the cartoon influence. This book lays a serious foundation of basic art terms and techniques and each chapter builds upon the previous one.

Within each lesson, there are several exercises and as your student works through these steps he/she will end up with a final drawing that they can be proud of.

I noticed that the author is a Dad of 6…so that explains his use of cartoon and comedy to walk students through basic art techniques, step by step, using fun illustrations. Kind of like my husband uses the “Robot” to help our little ones get to bed!

You can see a complete listing of the contents of Simply Draw, here.

I have to say that I have absolutely no artistic talent. I am so in awe of artists! As I looked through this art study, I was surprised that it made me want to draw. I think that is because the graphics in the book really pop out at you and it seems possible that you CAN do it…But, anyway, several of my kids are quite good, so I was excited to see what they had to say about Simply Draw.

My son, Sports Guy, offered his review services. He has a natural talent for art and he enjoyed the section on Short Parallel Lines and moved on into Shading and Shadow Tips. He also went ahead and drew the spaceship–in that lesson they are working on foreshortening and rectangle-oval strategy.

I have included some of his work in the photos. He commented that he liked the lessons—that they “were straightforward.”

I asked him to use the DVD as well, and he did not prefer that. The DVD is only for the computer and our computer did not recognize the Quicktime format at first. That was a bit of a pain. Sports Guy felt that was unnecessary anyway. He preferred just to use the book anyway.  I think some kids might enjoy watching the DVD and working with that—maybe a younger child, especially.

The DVD is for the computer. It does include extra PDF lesson forms to use.

The DVD is for the computer. It does include extra PDF lesson forms to use.

To be honest, I liked watching. You can see an example of the lessons below.

I think this curriculum is very good for a young teen, especially from about 10 to 15 (it is set up for ages 8+–so that would be a focused child, I think). I also think many of the lessons may particularly appeal to boys. The cost of the program is $37.50.

You can find more information on Simply Draw by Bob Parsons or other Homeschool Art Supplies on the Timberdoodle Website.

Check it out

Check it out

Timberdoodle has tons of homeschool curriculum and supplies. You can also “like” their Facebook page here, for more information.

As a member of Timberdoodle‘s Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of Simply Draw in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

You know,

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I bought a set of historical graphic novels

for her older siblings…

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Yet, this one is always carrying a pile of them around.

It was interesting explaining the reformation with a four year old.

I’m pretty sure I did a lousy job.

But, it makes me so happy she loves to read.

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You know, lately, I think you could walk into my home and be amazed by the really cool things we are able to study and do in our homeschool. We have come a long way from when we first started! Along the way, I have gotten help and ideas from many people and places. I just found another new resource in the Timberdoodle company.

This week, we may not have been lugging around giant textbooks or laptops, or traveling to science and art museums, but my family and I learned a ton and had a wonderful time with an impromptu week of history. It all began when I got a package of Stories From History Graphic Novels from Timberdoodle.

Inside the box was a set of ten historical based graphic novels. Now, I know the term graphic novel can be a very loose term. In this case, when I use the term graphic novels, I am referring to a story told in the comics form—a sort of novel in pictures with a nice glossy binding. Some graphic novels do not have text, but these do and plenty of historical details to boot.

So, my kids and I lit a fire, made some hot chocolate, talked about how the graphic novel came to be…and then dove into some extra history!

We went back in time, reading about intense battles, secret plots, Queens, Indians, artists and World War II. The novels are nonfiction and I love it that the children get the history facts and excitement in a fun format. So far, I feel that the historical information given is correct and I learned a thing or two…well, quite a few things!

My 14, 14 and 13 year-olds say they are “not boring or anything…” Hmmm. Actually that means a lot, coming from my 13 year old. She particularly liked the Anne Frank one. My book lover, my 14 year old son, read through them all right away and has been dropping facts all week.

I am impressed by the graphic design, paper and binding quality. The illustrations are full color with plenty of bright, busy pictures to capture even a non-reader’s attention.

Note: With a little one, though, you may want to explain the battle scenes a bit. The novels are listed for ages 8 to 14, grade levels 3 to 8, but my four year old is also carrying them everywhere. She is really into the T-Rex one and earlier wanted to know everything about Elizabeth I…and I think that is fantastic.

Each one of the novels runs about 48 pages. We have the following ones:

*When I checked online, I see they are now including an additional one in the set: The Building of the Great Pyramid

Anyway, one of my favorite things about them is that on top of the actual story, they also have good tools for my students to use–for example, in the The Life of Christopher Columbus, there is a Cast page, break-out maps, a Timeline of Columbus’ Life, a Did You Know section, a great glossary and an index. Man, these are some modern comic books!

I like the fact boxes and maps

I like the fact boxes and maps

These are on a special sale right now: $16.95. What? Really. Priced individually, these run $6.95. And, truly, I would feel decent if I got them at a bookstore for about $5 each. And, you know, I’m REALLY cheap:)

Originally, the set was priced at $76.45. So with the markdown, get eleven novels for under $20 bucks. I love blogging about a quality deal.

Check them out!

Check them out!

Note from the company: “Page 13 of Gladiators and the Story of the Colosseum and page 26 of The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci may need a touch of white-out depending on your family’s modesty standards. Also, The Discovery of T. Rex is not written from a young-earth perspective so it does make statements such as, “This huge beast lived 85-65 million years ago…” A touch of white-out and/or some clarifying discussion can easily rectify that.”

I want to note that Timberdoodle offers a bunch of other homeschool curriculum and items for learning fun. Check out their site for other types of graphic novels and all kinds of learning toys and games.

This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by Timberdoodle. In order to make my review worthwhile to others, I give my honest opinion! Shoot, this one’s a deal.