8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum End-of-Year Evaluation

This is our end-of-year review of the the Timberdoodle 8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Kit, which we received to review. What we loved and what needs changing. Start by reading our initial unboxing post, including my daughter’s perspective. You can also find our mid-year assessment, including Emma’s point of view.

Our review of the Timberdoodle non-religious 8th grade curriculum kit.

Timberdoodle 8th Grade Curriculum Mid-Year Assessment

We were very lucky this past year to get picked to review one of Timberdoodle’s curriculum kits! If you haven’t seen these kits, you need to check them out. They are definitely drool-worthy!

Emma picked the non-religious 8th grade kit to review. She’s written her own year-end review of this kit on her own blog, Maker Emma.

Emma was technically in seventh grade this year, and Timberdoodle’s age recommendations are generally spot-on. But she is pretty good at school, and last year when we followed the sixth grade recommendations she didn’t feel as challenged as she hoped to be. So this year we jumped a grade. Overall it seems a good fit for her.

What Comes In a Timberdoodle Curriculum Kit?

Timberdoodle 8th grade non-religious curriculum

Timberdoodle curriculum kits are designed to provide everything you need to homeschool your child for the year. Curriculum kits include a curriculum handbook to help parents get organized for the year.

Here’s what came in Emma’s curriculum kit

Language Arts Homeschool Curriculum

  • Easy Grammar Ultimate Grade 8 Teacher’s Guide. This book breaks grammar into 10-minute daily lessons. Emma likes the fact that the lessons are pretty short, while also teaching her a lot. She did complain that the lesson structure was repetitive and kind of boring after a while. I think she would have enjoyed a little bit of humor built into this curriculum.
  • Mosdos Press Literature – Gold – 8th Grade. This started out a huge hit and remained very popular throughout the year! For me, discovering the Mosdos language arts curriculum was a major homeschool win this year. My fourth grade daughter Lily also loved the Mosdos Ruby Fourth Grade Language Arts Curriculum. I highly recommend this series as a core language arts curriculum. I know we’ll be using it again in the future!
  • The Writing with Skill 1 Workbook uses literary excerpts to teach different writing techniques. Emma liked the idea of it, but mid-year she felt that most of the stories were not very interesting and she didn’t feel like it’s taught as thoroughly as she would like. By the end of the year she found it repetitive and tedious.
  • Graphic Shakespeare. This graphic novel condenses Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream into illustrated pieces. I’m a fan of reading the original Shakespeare, but I’m fine with this as a companion piece. Despite complaining about the illustrations (she declared them kind of creepy), I found her reading this several times throughout the school year.
  • Word Roots Level 2. I love this series. The book takes words back to their roots and teaches kids to use their understanding of word roots to figure out the meanings of words. Emma loves words, and this curriculum was a great fit for her. Her only complaint was that she did not like the review pages where she was asked to unscramble spelling words.

Mathematics Homeschool Curriculum

My daughter Anna LOVED Math-U-See for kindergarten last year, so I was curious to see what Emma would think. Math-U-See Algebra 1 was a stretch for Emma; she only finished the pre-algebra curriculum she used last year in December of this school year.

The pre-algebra curriculum was very demanding, so I thought she might prefer the slower pace of Math-U-See. I was wrong. Emma enjoyed the Math-U-See manipulatives, which I wound up using to help my 4th grader as well partway through the years. Unfortunately, she found the textbook problems unengaging and overly repetitive. We wound up using a different curriculum for most of the year.

As you may have picked up, Emma is picky. I think this curriculum would be fine for a less discerning child. I would have kept it for Emma if I hadn’t known about an alternative that I knew she would enjoy more.

Science Curriculum

Focus on Middle School Astronomy & Geology looked and sounded exciting. I liked the textbook; Emma felt like it was talking down to her. I might be more appropriate for 6th graders or younger.

I did find the experiments frustrating. They often required expensive equipment, and as a result we skipped many of them. I would prefer simpler experiments, or possibly the option of buying the books with a kit that contains everything you need for the experiments.

Social Studies Curriculum

People, Places, and Principles of America 1 turned out to be a pretty standard fill in the blanks, facts-learning curriculum that Emma grew to hate over the course of the year. I think she wanted more of a big picture and analytical approach rather than this details oriented curriculum.

Engineering Curriculum

Emma was very excited about the 8th grade curriculum kit‘s aviation focus.Her dad is a third generation pilot, and she wants to carry this tradition onto the fourth generation.

Intro to Aviation Course

This course comes with a flight simulation program, which is cool but definitely has a learning curve. The lectures had a lot of “be a responsible person” talk in them where maybe the time would have been better spent on the mechanics of flying. Emma is a super responsible kid, and it was frustrating to her to have to listen to people say things she already believes and lives.

Mechanics Lab Plans and Helicopters

I LOVE sets like this, so I was excited to try this out. Unfortunately, we had a terrible time building the models. The kit is a fantastic idea, but the components and also the model instructions need work.

Art

Archi-Doodle City was a super fun curriculum item for Emma! She also learned quite a bit about perspective and realistic drawing. She is a hand-lettering and cartoonist kid, and I enjoyed watching her stretch and grow through this curriculum.

Critical Thinking

Test Taking Skill Building

Spectrum Test Practice – 8th Grade is your standard fill in the bubble test taking practice book. I only pulled this book out during the couple of months before state testing. I don’t have test results in yet, but Emma felt like she did fine.

Just for Fun

Timberdoodle does a fantastic job of including a few *just for fun* items in their curriculum kits.

  • Extreme Dot-to-Dot: Spectacular Places. We own several books from this series. This one teaches snippet facts about several amazing places around the world.
  • We’ve bought Mixed By Me Thinking Putty a few times over the years, and it’s always a hit. We also own several tins of pre-mixed Thinking Putty. I love sensory play, and this is a great sensory de-stressing activity. My kids do want the Mixed by Me tins to be a little larger – they can be challenging even for me to open sometimes!
year-end review of Timberdoodle's non-religious 8th grade curriculum kit.

Have you tried any of Timberdoodle’s curriculum kits? If so, what did you think? Are there any 8th grade curriculum materials that you especially recommend?

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MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

6 thoughts on “8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum End-of-Year Evaluation”

  1. This was a thorough review! I really love how you broke it all down and your honesty. Emma sounds like my older daughter. She just turned 14 and is very picky about what she likes to learn and how to learn it. I believe we have some very smart girls. 😊

    1. She’s going back to 8th, for now, especially since the point of sending her to public school this fall is for her to see her friends. But she has been talking about finishing high school in 3 years. I’m curious to see what happens…

  2. That’s interesting Emma didn’t like Math-U-See, my kids really liked it.

    After using the exact same Focus on Science books, I have to agree with a lot of your assessments. Last year it was bordering on being too easy, and then my kids made a jump in capability, and it was too easy, but they still loved it for the humor in the textbook, but the experiments all too often had annoying extra materials required that I didn’t want to buy, and the last half of the astronomy labs weren’t doable because the program on Google Maps wasn’t available anymore.

    My kids are with Emma on fill in the blank materials. This didn’t surprise me too much because I’m the same way and quite hate fill in the blanks myself…

    At some point, I want to get some more Critical Thinking stuff.

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