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When you fall out of love with your curriculum…

We’re on our last 6 weeks of Timberdoodle Kindergarten. I had very high hopes for this curriculum, but in the end, I honestly didn’t like most of it. At least not the actual “academic” components. Let me explain.

I consider “academic” components as things that are used to teach or enhance the basics. The three R’s. Reading, writing, Arithmetic. In our kit, we received (and how it worked for us):

The not so great stuff, or great stuff, just not great for us at the moment…:

The Reading Lesson

This was a good investment, and Peanut will be using this for the next few years to learn how to read. It’s nicely laid out, and very easy to implement. We do a page or two a day, but lately we’ve found Peanut isn’t progressing, so we’re taking a step back and using another phonics curriculum to reinforce what he already knows. We’ll pick this back up in a few months.

Italic Handwriting Book A Kindergarten

I thought it would teach the absolute basics of handwriting, and it really doesn’t. It assumes your child can draw certain shapes. I would prefer another curriculum like Handwriting Without Tears, and I will be picking up a copy of it when I order our McRuffy Math this year. Not that this program is bad, I will use it once Peanut is able to print.

 

Spelling you See Level A

Now this was definitely a ‘put on the shelf for a year, maybe two’  book. Peanut can’t write. Peanut can’t read. How the heck can he spell? Really??? I had hoped that this would integrate components from The Reading Lesson, thus learning how to spell the words he is learning to read. I even downloaded, printed, laminated, and cut letter tiles so Peanut could use them instead of writing. But no way. When he’s learning to read the word “cat” but having to spell “pot”, it got too confusing.  It will be a good asset in a year or two. Now, it collects dust.

 

Developing the Early LearnerDeveloping the Early Learner

Another four books for the shelf! Again, Peanut needs better fine motor control before he can do pretty much all the pages in these. Color, trace, mazes, etc. are not easy when you can’t handle using a pencil or crayon yet. Still, it will be an asset in a year or two. But collecting dust now…

 

 

Math U See Primer
Oh I had such high hopes for this. I envisioned my Peanut happily counting, adding, subtracting, and using manipulative blocks to reinforce what he was learning. I envisioned smiles at  the mention of math time! Instead, I got met with defiance, and when he finally sat down to do math, he spent more time making battleships and airplanes than actually learning. Why? Because he was very frustrated with it. It moved much too fast for him. I’ve written about this in an earlier post (or two, or three… ) and so for now it sits, like the others above, proudly on the dust shelf. Will we eventually use it again? I don’t know. If we don’t by 2019 I’ll probably sell it. Brand new condition, no writing in any pages, but maybe a few tears of frustration! hahaha!

 Beginning Geography

Yep, you guessed it. Shelf. Dust. Why? Because, again, Peanut can’t read yet. How is he supposed to know Main Street or University Boulevard if he can’t read them? How is he to know the sign for Bank vs the sign for School?  It does say on the cover it’s for K-2 so I will keep it for another couple of years and try it again.

 

Cola Fountains and Spattering Paint (what a huge) Bomb!

Not once single experiment worked for us! We ended up checking YouTube and found some people who had some success with them. Again, dust collector!

 

 

TinkerLab

Very beautiful book, and tons of great experiments and art projects. Why is it on the dust shelf? because a lot of the projects take items that aren’t easy to get here. In time, i’ll start getting them, but for now these great ideas sit waiting for the time I can do them with Peanut.

 

 

 

So what do we actually use from our Timberdoodle kit? All these:Kumon Cutting Skills - Set of 3Djeco Friends Light Clay KitVisible Human Floor PuzzleKumon Mazes - 5 book setBOB Books Set 1: Beginning ReadersUsborne The Big Book of Things to Find and Color miniLUK Set AThree Little Piggies Smart GameOodles of DoodlesDjeco / Discover Color Color-Mixing Workshop, Chirp-Chirp

Pretty much it’s mainly fun stuff. games. activity books, toys, art. So what did I end up using to supplement for the actual “academics”? I pulled from several sources.

Phonics and reading: Progressive Phonics takes absolutely no assumptions with your child. You start at ground zero. It is in depth, easy to do, and even has lesson plans! You can even incorporate handwriting too, which she provides, if the child is ready. All you need is a printer, some paper, cardstock, a laminator (or clear packing tape – poor man’s lamination for me!) and scissors. Peanut is learning how to read very well with this. It’s interactive, so I read, he reads, and we enjoy silly stories together!

It has Stories, flashcards, worksheets, lesson plans and even words for the wall!

Beginner Book 1 Screenshot 2Screen shot of Book 1 Activty Worksheets, page 1Word Wall Small Size

We also use Hooked on Phonics. It is a fine dance with this one. We tend to take two steps forward then one step back. Still, it’s working, so between that and Alphabetti, then The Reading Lesson for reinforcement, Peanut is getting there!

We also use Explode the Code get ready series, but don’t do any handwriting. Peanut is definitely better at learning his sounds with this series! 

Geography: Daily Geography grade 1. It moves at a gentle pace, and isn’t as intense as Beginning Geography. We actually enjoy this one!

What was my biggest “pro” about Timberdoodle Kindergarten? I’d say all the fun stuff. We were introduced to games, puzzles, and art kits we normally wouldn’t even have heard of! The STEAM (science technology, engineering, art, and math) hands on components are awesome!

Biggest “con” about Timberdoodle Kindergarden? for us, it was boring. same old thing every single day. Unlike programs like Bookshark or Moving Beyond the Page, there is nothing to look forward to. No learning about dinosaurs one week, and learning about airplanes the next. It lacks any kind of “journey through the world” as I call it. It’s endless days of math, geography, a game, writing, reading, a game, cutting, mazes, a game. If you want to learn about octopusses or medieval knights, it won’t happen in this curriculum! I know they keep costs down by not including books to read, but at least a weekly theme, a suggestion for read aloud books to go with them, would be appreciated.  Would I recommend Timberdoodle? Yes and no. Yes for the fun stuff, but use another company such as Bookshark, Sonlight, or Moving Beyond the Page for your main curriculum. Also, as grades in Timberdoodle progress, so do the amount of workbooks. Not great if your child has issues with fine motor skills!

So now my coffee is cold, and Peanut is up and begging for some “Minecraft” time. I guess that’s my cue to say goodbye for now, and I hope your day brings you much laughter and smiles. Till next time!

McRuffy math?

So by now I am absolutely convinced I want Moving Beyond the page level 4-5 for Peanut’s  2017-2018 school year. That’s a given! I honestly am very excited and anxious to order it, and can’t wait till it arrives so we can jump right into all the wonderful stories, activities, and leaning some amazing things along the journey through this coming school year!

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But math. Oh boy, why are you so hard to choose! What I really wanted was RightStart Math 2nd edition, but WOWZERS!!!! the price!!!! I would need to sell a kidney and take out a second mortgage! $294 for one year’s worth of math!!!!! Ouch! Don’t forget the cost to ship it here – probably another $150! That’s $450 for one year of math!!! No way! not in this lifetime!

Moving Beyond the page offers RightStart Math 1st edition, and it’s a more reasonable $157.50, but it’s 16 years old, it’s format is much more confusing, and it has a lot less hands on games than the 2nd edition. I mean, they updated it for a reason, right? I was set to just suck it up and order it along with our main curriculum, but it just felt like I was settling for second best somehow. I was not happy. So I thought maybe there may be a way to ‘tweak’ it, or find something very similar but more affordable.

So with a heavy sigh, I did some online research. With my trusted coffee steaming away in my hand, and soothing my frazzled soul, I read tons of reviews. Then I stumbled onto a website with a math curriculum selector and that was a total game changer! It has a fairly in depth quiz about your child’s learning style, your teaching style, and then spits out your scores for various math curricula.

The secular grade K-6 rates your compatibility for Beast Academy, Math Mammoth, Mathematical Reasoning, McRuffy, Miquon, RightStart, Saxon, Shiller, Singapore, and  Teaching Textbooks. The Christian math k-6 rates your compatibility for Abeka, Bob Jones, Christian Light Education, Horizons, Life of Fred, Lifepac, Math U See, Rod and Staff, and Switched on Schoolhouse.

Yes, I was surprised to learn that even math can have religion thrown in! I’m speechless! Not that I’m not spiritual, but for me, I’m not integrating our faith and beliefs with our school curriculum, it’s a very personal choice.

So I did the quiz, and was surprised (sort of) by our results! Our scores:

  • Score for Math Mammoth: 3 I own this, and was thinking of using it in a couple of years. Seems it may not be a good fit, at least not right now. Maybe down the road…
  • Score for Mathematical Reasoning: 8 We are using this now! It’s not awful, but not great either. It gets the job done, but with no explanations.
  • Score for McRuffy: 13 Wow! look at that! Tied with my first choice, and costs significantly less too! This just became my first choice!
  • Score for RightStart: 13 Reinforcing what I thought, RightStart would be the best option for us!
  • Score for Saxon: 6 this was my backup, and was seriously considering this since on paper it’s almost a RightStart clone! But look at that score! Less than what we use now!!!
  • Score for Math U See: 2 Ironic! This is what we started with at the beginning of our 2016-2017 year! We were not even half way through Primer when we decided enough was enough, and put it on the shelf. We may try to use it in a year or two, but it just wasn’t working for us on so many levels!

I had heard of McRuffy once before, but never thought anything about it. Maybe the name turned me off? I don’t know. But now, here I am looking at their website, checking out reviews, and falling more and more under McRuffy’s spell! I like it. I really like it.

Check out this Video, It lists the “cons” of this program as only going to grade 5! Wow!!! This says a lot. This program is so good that it’s a “con” that it doesn’t continue on into higher grades!

I am usually totally against getting curriculum from two or more places, but this year, I think I’ll make an exception. Two places. Two boxes to ship. And I’ll still come in just at my budget, maybe a few dollars more.

Kindergarten Color Math Curriculum | Main photo (Cover)

The best place I’ve found to get McRuffy’s is at Rainbow Resources, and they also sell the manipulatives kit too!

Math Manipulative Super Set (K-3) | Main photo (Cover)

So now I’m feeling pretty good about this year’s choices. I hope it’s a fun, eventful, learning filled year filled with tons of those light bulb turning on “aha” moments for Peanut! And lots of hands on art and crafts. And sparklies. We need sparklies! Now to reward myself with a warm cup of coffee, with a sprinkle of cocoa and a dash of vanilla! Way to go Mama!!!

Just when I thought it was over… The great 2017 curriculum debate part 2!

A couple of months ago I was absolutely sure of what we were going to use for our 2017-2018 school year. I was excited about it. I began counting the days till I could order it. Moving Beyond the Page 4-5 plus RightStart math seemed almost perfect. The only flaw was that RightStart math was the 1st edition, I would have much preferred the 2nd edition or Saxon math K. But it was as close to perfect as I could get from one company!

Then came a notice in my email that Bookshark did two amazing things. They have redone their curriculum guides, now they are in color and are more user friendly. The second huge difference this year, they are now selling RightStart Math 2nd edition! Not only that, they also have Saxon Math too!

What’s a homeschooling mama to do?

I have 3 options floating around now.

1.  Stay with my original choice. Moving Beyond the Page is a fantastic curriculum. 30 books to read, 30 topics to explore. Peanut will be having lots of fun through all the fun read-aloud books, art, crafts, internet links to videos, etc.

RightStart math 1, 1st edition, is a bit harder than the 2nd edition to do properly. It also is less user friendly, the 2nd edition is better laid out. They don’t offer Saxon math, so I have to go with the 1st edition or opt for the Mathematical Reasoning Ebook like I did this year. Not to say Mathematical Reasoning isn’t a good, solid math curriculum, it is. It just doesn’t explain the concepts. This is why I want to switch to a more hands-on math curriculum.

Also, the cost would be approximately $885 including shipping for the curriculum and the math, or if I threw in ABeCeDarian reading program, it would be $975, about $80 over what I wanted to spend, but still very much in our price range!

Pros:

  • over 30 fantastic picture books! This will keep Peanut’s attention!
  • Every 5 days is a new book and new topic
  • There are allowances on ALL writing – they even provide ideas for non-writers so that they can still do the writing lesson – ie. instead of writing the letter A, they will trace it in a tray filled with shaving cream! (messy but fun too!)
  • almost ALL the needed materials for the program is included in a kit, and each unit’s items are separated for ease! So for example, if you’re doing unit one, you just grab the bag labelled unit one and you’re set for allmost all the hands on stuff for the week.
  • Some days are kind of ‘light’ academically, and although it may be a con sometimes, it may also turn out to be a pro since Peanut is still having issues with attention span.
  • It looks amazingly fun! I actually want to do this curriculum!!!

Cons:

  • I’m not getting the math I really want for Peanut
  • They offer an online or hard copy of the instructor’s guide, not both together. Once you activate an online unit, you have 3 months to use it. After it expires, you have a year to still view it online (without access to the student pages). This means you can’t print out the student pages all at once. This isn’t a deal-breaker, but it’s annoying, since I would prefer the online guide over the hard copy.

2. Go with Bookshark Pre-Kindergarten package, but opt for the Kindergarten Language arts and readers. For math, I have a choice between RightStart 2nd edition, Saxon math, Singapore math, or two others!

Pros: (from their website)

  • Provide your child a small glimpse of our large world with the colorful Kids Beginner’s World Atlas. They will also be introduced to history and how cities and streets have changed over time. From professions to transportation, this year is an exciting time to explore the world!
  • Read-Alouds are a building block to reading and provides a memorable part of homeschooling that you will share with your child every year with BookShark! Snuggle up and read our collection of stories like Winnie the Pooh and Babe the Gallant Pig!
  • Learn about seasons, weather, plants, animals, the ocean and much more!
  • Starting in Week 11, you will work with hands-on manipulatives to build a math foundation that focuses on patterns, shapes and numbers (recognition, counting and addition/subtraction).
  • Daily Time Requirement: Less than an hour

Pros: (mine)

  • I’ll get the math curriculum I want!
  • Peanut will get 21 fantastic read-aloud stories ranging from Winnie the Pooh to Why do Tigers Have Stripes
  • The Kindergarten Language Arts teaches phonics, writing, reading, creative writing
  • The built in Pre-K math will reinforce what we’ve already learned
  • I’d be reading Peanut some of my favorite childhood books!
  • The cost! Approximately $956 including shipping. This is about $60 over what I planned to spend, but it includes RightStart math AND Handwriting Without Tears!

Cons: (mine)

  • No arts and crafts. No hands-on activities. I’ll have to turn to Pinterest to get some ideas…
  • Peanut may not want to sit still long enough to hear stories from books with minimal illustrations (Winnie the Pooh, Babe the Gallant Pig)
  • Some of the book discussions may be over his ability

3. Use Bookshark level K with Saxon math. RightStart math would bring the cost of the package to $745 plus approximately $400 for shipping to the island, so that’s about $240 over my budget! Ack!!! I know we could somehow manage it, but Saxon math would only bring it to  $640 plus approximately $350 for shipping, making it only $100 over budget.

Pros: (from Website):

  • Study Ancient Egypt, Rome, knights and castles, geography, climates and much more.  Engage your child with conversation as we equip you with questions to connect him or her to the various people and places you will discover.
  • Reading aloud to your children builds their vocabulary, listening skills and imagination. Read-Alouds also help build your children’s congnitive development and gives them a passion to learn. Cuddle-up and read 23 Read-Aloud classics like Dr. Dolittle and The Boxcar Children.
  • After your children learn just 8 letters of the alphabet they will read real stories in the Fun Tales series.
  • Science K introduces basic concepts in Biology, Earth Science, and Physics—topics you’ll return to again over the years. Includes nearly 100 science experiments in the Discover and Do DVD along with supplies you need so you and your child can recreate the experiments.
  • Daily Time Requirements: 1.5 – 2 hrs

Pros: (mine)

  • I love the selection of books for this level, they are childhood favorites of mine!
  • I love the way Peanut will be introduced to everything from dinosaurs to space flight!
  • The instructor’s guide is laid out for 36 weeks, and 4 days a week, this is exactly the schedule we currently use! It’s like it’s made for us!!!
  • There are science experiments, and it includes almost all the necessary items!
  • I can choose the math program I want!
  • The language arts incorporates phonics and reading, no need for an extra program.

Cons:

  • Not as hands-on as I’d like, but it still has 2 or 3 activities a week plus a science experiment a week too. I know I can add to it by getting ideas online from Pinterest, but it’s a con since I’d have to do all the leg work from finding the arts/crafts to gathering the needed items.
  • The read-aloud books aren’t as heavily illustrated, so they may not hold Peanut’s attention, and he may get bored.
  • This curriculum relies on discussing the books as we read them, and Peanut isn’t ready for a true discussion yet. He’s getting there, but it may be another year before he can get the full benefit of this curriculum.
  • The language arts program is wonderful, except the writing part may be too hard for Peanut. He will likely need Occupational Therapy for his fine motor skills for handwriting.

 

So what’s a confused, anxiety ridden mama to do? Go with a GREAT fully loaded curriculum full of picture books and great hands-on stuff every week (Moving Beyond the Page) but not have the math I want? Go with a literary based pre-K curriculum (Bookshark) with minimal hands on activities but a GREAT math program? Or go with a GREAT literary based 5-7 year old program that offers some hands-on fun, a science experiment a week, a GREAT phonics & reading program, a good math program (Saxon), but may not hold Peanut’s attention yet…

Actually, writing all this out has helped me. I think I found my path!

For 2017-2018 we’ll probably do Moving Beyond the Page 4-5, RightStart 1st edition (ugh!), and may do ABeCeDarian Reading, but I’m not sold on that one. I’m still unsure of getting the hard copy or online version. I also could just get the curriculum, and get Saxon Math (plus the manipulation kit) as well as handwriting without tears from Rainbow Resources, and still come in just slightly over budget.

For 2018-2019 we’ll do either Bookshark 5-7, or if we love Moving beyond the page, we’ll stay with that and do their 5-7, but math would be an issue again…

10 more school weeks to go… and my review of the year so far.

We chose Timberdoodle this year for our 2016-2017 curriculum. We are just finishing week 26, and we have 10 more weeks of school left. So what do I think of this curriculum?

Pros:

There are LOTS of hands on things to do. I don’t mean crafts. What I mean is that it is loaded with learning games. We have 3 Little Piggies, MiniLuk, GeoPuzzles set of 6 puzzles, Visible Human Body floor puzzle, Morphun blocks, Djeco Chirp Chirp art kit, Djeco Friends soft clay kit, and My First Super Science kit. They are fun, and with the exception of the human body floor puzzle (it’s kind of delicate, so we don’t use it often), we are thrilled with the quality and the fun of these items.

There is many fun “activity” books that encourage fine motor skills. We chose Construction Stickers Activity Book, Emergency Stickers Activity Book, Sticker Dressing Heroes and Rescue, BrainFood Vehicles Doodle Mats, Usborne Big Drawing Book, Oodles of Doodles, Big Book of Things to Find and Color, Kumon Amazing Mazes, Kumon I Can Cut, and Kumon Let’s Fold. These are fun, but Peanut has a hard time coloring and writing, so the doodle and coloring books have been set aside for when he’s ready.

The actual “workbooks” and “textbooks” are highly acclaimed and are basically open and go. This is the heart of Timberdoodle’s curricula. We chose Math U See, Spelling You See, Getty Dubay’s Italic Handwriting, Developing the Early Learner, Beginning Geography, and The Reading Lesson. They are all wonderful, but unfortunately Peanut just isn’t ready for them. We have set aside all except The Reading Lesson, and we supplement this with Hooked on Phonics and Alphabetti. We replaced Math U See Primer with Mathematical Reasoning Beginning 2.

Timberdoodle has AWESOME customer service. I had a problem with “my first scissors” and was given a refund for the item without any hassle. They also took the time to answer my many, many questions and were never annoyed! They are a joy to deal with!

The ease of scheduling! You are given a weekly checklist of how much to do (but not what to do) and it’s up to you to decide when to do it. If you want to do all 8 pages of math in one day, go for it! If you want to do 3 pages of spelling on one day, and two pages the next day, you can! Some people need to have a rigid schedule, so I guess this would be a ‘con’ for them, but for me, having the ability to be flexible with my week worked well.

Cons:

Too many items have been set aside for the future. I know this isn’t the fault of Timberdoodle. Peanut just isn’t ready for 2/3 of this curriculum. We will eventually use it all, but for this year, I consider it a con. I think we should have purchased the Pre-K curriculum instead.

No literature. None. We don’t have easy and regular access to a library, so we need to rely on the internet for downloadable books.

No weekly/monthly topics. There are no “this week we’ll learn about dinosaurs, and next week we’re exploring the weather.” It gets dull and boring. I know it’s just kindergarten, but I would have liked even a suggested list of topics to delve into or read about each week of school. We’re now at the point where school is kind of a drag, and not enjoyable. I’m really looking forward to next schoolyear and our fun curriculum.

We purchased the science book called Soda Fountains and Spattering Paint, and so far not one of the experiments worked! And I’m not alone. Very annoying.

Conclusion:

Timberdoodle has been good this year, but not *great*. I wish I would have seen Moving Beyond the Page 4-5 for our 2016-2017 year, I would have used this instead! I am definitely looking forward to doing this for our 2017-2018 year. And, yes, it says ages 4-5, but I have to plan for the future too. Peanut will be 6, but the next level of Moving Beyond the Page AND our second choice, Bookshark, is for 5-7 year olds, and both recommend that unless your child is advanced, you should stay in the upper age range of the level. A 7 year old would get much more out of them whereas a 5 year old will struggle.

I do like Timberdoodle, but it just doesn’t feel very ‘cohesive’ and doesn’t really explore or expose Peanut to different topics. In later levels, there are books like The Story of the World, World History Detectives, Interactive Science (but note – this has awful reviews!), so it explores some various topics, but in reality this is a STEAM and thinking skills based curriculum. I’ll probably be using their STEAM and thinking skills items, but not their academic curricula. In my opinion, it’s a great curriculum for kids that enjoy workbooks. Unfortunately, Peanut isn’t at the ‘workbook’ stage yet, so they are all waiting for him when he’s ready.

Also, I’ve had to supplement this curriculum, adding phonics, a daily science curriculum, read aloud books, craft projects, and various videos like Magic School Bus, Super Why, LeapFrog, Reading Rainbow, and Blippi.

Next year, with Moving Beyond the Page, I only need to add math and phonics! More details on this in a future post…

2017-2018 curriculum pick, aka the award goes to…

It has begun. The quest for the perfect boxed curriculum, or at least an entire curriculum from one place that comes in one box. I need to think about shipping costs.

First I look at what our needs are. Peanut is very hands-on, and learns best by either doing things hands-on, or watching a video. He’s not able to write yet, so workbooks are pretty useless. He is barely starting to read, about the equivalent of a public school kindergarten child in their 3rd month of school.

I need a curriculum that is fun, but I also don’t want to be scrambling for supplies that I may not find on the island. I also need a curriculum that either has 144 days, or can be adapted to 144 – 150 days. Yes, we could go monday to friday, 180 days, but I know we’d probably burn out very fast.

So in my quest, I eliminated any highly religious curricula (sorry My Father’s World, Sonlight, and Lifepac!). I also eliminated textbook heavy curricula. This left me with Bookshark Pre-k, Moving Beyond The Page 4-6, Build Your Library K, Timberdoodle grade 1 (customized), Five in a Row, and one I create myself from Rainbow Resource.

After going through the samples of each, and actually planning out a typical week from each of them, I think I’ve found my match! But before I say what it is, here’s what I found out about each one of these.

Bookshark Pre-K:

Pros:

  • This is a literary rich curriculum! From Winnie the Pooh to Richard Scarry, the book selections are fantastic. I love every one of them.
  • The daily routine is easy. You read your child 2 to 3 short stories from beautiful picture books. You also read a couple of pages of a child’s atlas.
  • For Science you read from The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature.
  • Bookwork consists of the optional “Developing the Early Learner” 4 volume set.
  • It’s open and go! My week is all planned for me!

Cons:

  • Not very many hands on activities. This means I’ll have to turn to Pinterest and other sources to add some art and craft activities to reinforce what Peanut is learning. This will definitely be time consuming to find and organize the crafts, but I do love the literature so it may be a small price to pay.
  • Math, science, and language arts are weak. I would have to order the Science K and also the K Language arts and readers. I would use Mathematical Reasoning Kindergarten or try Math U See Primer again.

Moving Beyond the Page 4-6: Wow! What an amazing curriculum!Age 4-5

Pros:

  • It has 30 units, so this means I can spread them out over 150 days without any effort!
  • The literature is amazing! From old favorites like Blueberries for Sal, to modern ones like A is for Musk Ox, the book selection is fantastic (except one book, see cons for that)
  • Crafts! It is heavy on crafts, and the best part is that they supply almost everything I would need from yarn to craft paper! This means Peanut’s fine motor skills will get a great workout.
  • Two versions of activities – one for children that can write, and one for those who can’t. If your child cannot print a letter, they suggest things like trace the letter in a cookie sheet filled with shaving cream, rice, or salt. They have so many great ideas on how to encourage handwriting without even using a pencil!
  • It is unit based, so one week we learn about Musk Oxen and their habitat, and next week we learn about trees and their life cycles. It’s a great mix of learning and exploring our world and everything in it!
  • It’s almost open and go! I would have to tweak it a bit to turn it into our 4 day week, but it would be very easy to do!

Cons:

  • I would have to find a suitable replacement for one book, “Millions of Cats”. It is one of those morbid books that I can’t bring myself to read to Peanut. It is about a greedy couple who want a cat, so they adopt millions of cats. They only want one, so the cats begin eating each other until one remains. Ewww. Just NO!!! I’m sure I can find a sweet story about cats that doesn’t involve cat cannibalism!
  • Math is weak. I’d have to supplement it with Mathematical Reasoning, Math Mammoth, or even Math U See Primer.
  • Phonics is weak, so I’d continue with The Reading Lesson and Hooked on Phonics.

Build Your Library K: This curriculum is excellent and very literature rich!https://i1.wp.com/buildyourlibrary.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/83532.jpg

Pros:

  • The book selection is awesome! Over 30 classics and modern well loved books.
  • a 30 week schedule, which means I can easily adapt it for 36 weeks (144-150 days).
  • It touches on all the continents and explores what life is like for different children of the world.
  • The manual is a PDF and costs under $25!
  • It has some arts and crafts to keep Peanut’s hands busy and help strengthen those muscles.
  • It incorporates other ideas like cooking to round out a fun week of learning.

Cons:

  • The books need to be ordered from Amazon, and some are out of print. This makes it a bit more expensive if you want the out of print copies since they sell for a ridiculous price.
  • Math is weak. I’d have to supplement with Mathematical Reasoning, Math Mammoth, or even Math U See Primer.
  • Phonics is weak, so I’d continue with The Reading Lesson and Hooked on Phonics.
  • Not very many hands on activities. This means I’ll have to turn to Pinterest and other sources to add some art and craft activities to reinforce what Peanut is learning. This will definitely be time consuming to find and organize the crafts, but I do love the literature so it may be a small price to pay.

Timberdoodle grade 1 (customized): I’m currently using Timberdoodle Kindergarten Secular customized curriculum and love it for the most part.

Pros:

  • All in one curriculum that covers all the required subjects
  • lots of hands on games, science experiments, art, and STEM

Cons:

  • Very workbook intense. There are 8 workbooks in their standard grade 1 secular curriculum. Peanut cannot write yet, so they would either be omitted from the kit, or would sit on the shelf until he can do them.
  • For the amount of money we’d spend, we would basically be buying a year of toys and games, and no real learning opportunities.
  • No literature is included, so we’d have to either rely on the library or purchase books to read.

Five in a Row: Although this is a religious curriculum, it is very easy to remove the bible and religious content.Five in a Row Book Set

Pros:

  • Unit based, and excellent book choices from Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel to How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, it would make a fun year of great books
  • It covers Social Studies, Math, Literature, Art, Science, Human Relationships
  • It is easy to implement since you choose one social studies, language arts, art, math, and science a day.
  • It has many hands-on arts and crafts

Cons:

  • There are a few religious books (ie. Clown of God) that I would have to skip
  • I’d have to order the literature from Rainbow Resource, but they would be one shipment.
  • Math is weak. I’d have to supplement with Mathematical Reasoning, Math Mammoth, or even Math U See Primer.
  • Phonics is weak, so I’d continue with The Reading Lesson and Hooked on Phonics.

So what did I choose? The great debate is truly between Moving Beyond the Page, Five in a Row, and Bookshark.

Timberdoodle lost because of the heavy writing component, making this curriculum almost useless for a few more years.

Build your Library would win out for literature alone, but it falls down on hands-on activities. I would be willing to make it work though, but I don’t like the amount of out-of-print books.

Bookshark falls down on the lack of hands-on activities too, but I will probably use the level 5-7 after this next year is done, since the 5-7 level has lots of arts, crafts etc. Peanut just isn’t ready for the level 5-7 literature yet, or I’d definitely use this one for our 2017-2018 year. I’m actually still considering the pre-k level if Peanut is able to write by June or July.

Memoria press was another that was in the running, very much a fantastic literature based curriculum, I’d just remove the bible and religious content of it. In order to have it work well, it requires the basic curriculum, the suppliementary read aloud books, and the supplementary science books.This brings the curriculum to a very expensive price that I can’t justify!

So the winner for 2017-2018 is Moving Beyond the Page!!!! (insert fanfare and flying confetti here!). The runner up is Bookshark (going to first place if Peanut can write by June), and third place is Build Your Library tied with Five in a Row.

Now where’s my wine, strawberries, and chocolate? After all this work I deserve it! hahaha!!!!  Seriously, this is going to be an awesome year, I want to start it now!!!!

Math: A quick change, hopefully for the better

I haven’t posted in a while, it’s been a few weeks full of crazy, hectic, nail biting chaos. Even homeschool has taken a back seat. We have done the basics like phonics, reading, and read alouds, but everything else was just too much to fit into our days. That will be a post for another time!

What I have been going a bit obsessive over has been Peanut’s math skills. He just hasn’t grasped the concept that there are numbers between 12-18! Why oh why can’t he count to 20? He can tell me what the numbers are when he sees them, but when he counts, it goes 11-12-18-19-20…

I have tried Math U See Primer, but that moved at a faster pace than what we were both comfortable with. It starts slow, gentle, then suddenly introduces numbers up to 100 and then 2 lessons later introduces skip counting! ARGH I wanted to bang my head against the desk! This was set aside for at least the rest of this school year. We need to focus on only the numbers from 1-2o or a bit beyond.

So I moved our focus to MCP Mathematics Kindergarten. I thought it would keep us busy for a few months, but alas, no! It focused on numbers 1-10. A great review, and great at restoring Peanut’s confidence, but 200 pages were done in 6 weeks!

So after searching, I found Kumon numbers 1-30 book, but it’s only 80 pages, and really just a suppliment. We do about 4 pages a day right now. Peanut needs more of a challenge!

Enter Mathematical Reasoning by Critical Thinking Co! I downloaded their samples from Beginning 1 (targeted to 3 and 4 year olds), Beginning 2 (for 4-5 year olds) and Level A for Kindergartners. Peanut tried the worksheets, and we found level A was too hard, Beginning 1 was too easy, and Beginning 2 was just right (why does this remind me of Goldilocks and the three bears? Bwahahaha!) So I bought Mathematical Reasoning Beginning 2, and with fingers crossed, we will hopefully see some progress in the next little while!

This book is that it’s available as a hardcopy or as an ebook, so I bought the ebook and it’s actually spitting out of our printer right now!  What attracted me to this series was the amount of stellar reviews, the ease of use (I love open and go books! Prep time can really suck with some curriculum!) and the pages are fun! It makes me happy to look at the bright, colorful pages. Take a peek at a page:

How cute is this? It actually makes bugs look cute! Not only does it work on basic math skills, but also has a few challenging puzzles that take a bit of logic and reasoning skills to do. Here is an example:

I’m really hoping Peanut enjoys this, and he does well with it. At  282 pages, it will take us the rest of the year to do, or may even spill over into next school year! Here’s hoping with fingers crossed that it’s a good fit for Peanut!

Mazes, cutting, pasting, dot to dots, oh my! or all about Kumon books.

Fine Motor Skills is one of the biggest areas we are working on with Peanut. Those little fingers can take apart toys with ease, but put a pencil in his fingers and it becomes a sword, a light sabre, a teeter totter, even a catapult. Anything except a writing utensil. He finds writing and drawing so hard that he’d rather shove a crayon up his nose than use it to draw on paper.

Enter Kumon and their books. There’s books for cutting, tracing, pasting, mazes, even dot to dots. There’s even academic workbooks for math, spelling, reading, and other wonderful things! The age range starts at 2 years old for some of them, and goes all the way to grade 8.

These books are high quality and very cute! The colors are like magnets for kids. They beg to be used. Here is an example of a maze:

Easy enough for a young child, but still challenging, and not your typical black line maze. Peanut loves these!

The cutting books have fun things they can make, for example you cut along the grey line and then the monkey gets to eat the apple by moving the two pieces together!

Even the Uppercase Letters and Lowercase Letters books are very friendly and not intimidating to young learners

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So far we’ve used the Upper and Lowercase letter books, Mazes set, Let’s Cut Paper set, Let’s Sticker and Paste, Let’s trace set, and Numbers 1-30. We’ll be using the simple addition soon. We’ve loved every one of them!

My Book of Number Games 1-70 InsideMy Book of Simple Addition Inside

When Peanut is ready, there is even some spelling books I plan to use.

Rainbow Resourses have a wide selection of Kumon books ranging from fine motor skills, math, writing, crafts, logic, and other important skills.I am very impressed with the quality and the fun they bring to learning.