My Big Critical Thinking Co. Book Review Post
Okay- Here’s the low down on all my favorite Critical Thinking Company Books. I won’t out and out say which one I love the most, but my gushing might give it away. My rough plan is to use some of these books on Fridays because we do Math five days a week despite our Four day BookShark schedule. That means these books have the potential to last a long time. You can also do the work in a separate notebook and re-use them for multiple children. Or you can make copies for your own use. I snagged this from their FAQ’s-
You do not need permission to copy materials, and are not required to complete the application, if you wish to reproduce pages from The Critical Thinking Co.™ books that belong to you for use in a single classroom. Please note that in the case of parents and home educators, “classroom,” signifies a single household.
Large families could save a bunch of money this way. And speaking of big families, these books could potentially meet the needs of all your kids. Their design, for a wide range of needs, crossover all curriculum styles. Even unschoolers sometimes have to give a standardized test, and all these books will help with that.
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Editor in Chief® Level 2- Am I pretty sure this is the very first book I purchased from Critical Thinking Press way back around 2002? Yes. My cautionary tale: we’ve used this a few times and wrote in it every single time (Oops!) Don’t let that happen to you. Make some copies. Here’s how this one works: The student reads a passage that has a set amount of mistakes in it. They may be punctuation or content errors. Part of the page is correct so that they can accurately check for the mistakes. They aren’t long, and there are usually under ten errors to find. The answers are in the back of the book to make it fast for the parent/teacher to grade them. We’ve used this book year round and on occasion during the Summer only as part of our School-Lite routine. There are passages like this in almost every standard hole filling test you may give and practice makes perfect. Plus, my kids like taking on the role of editor.
The Basics of Critical Thinking- This book of beginning logic and critical thinking is one of the best I’ve come across. It’s fairly new (2015) and has a large range of student ages (grades 4-9) I could see this being taught as a group lesson, but we are doing just fine using it with one kid. It covers everything from What is Critical Thinking to Beliefs and Claims, Facts and Probable Truths, Agreements and Contracts, Valid and Invalid Arguments, and many more. It’s really everything you’d want in a beginners guide. We’re using it 2-3 days a week as part of our Math lesson time.
Word Roots Level 3-Me a few weeks ago, “I need this in case I end up shelving Latin entirely. I mean it could happen.” Me now, Oh, it’s happening, and there was much rejoicing from the teenager. He has another year before high school and you what? Latin will still be there anytime we decide it might be time to pick it back up. I do believe in the power of the root word, and so we’ll use this alongside BookShark LA as they are both scheduled four days a week. There are forty-two lessons plus review weeks so we won’t finish till next Fall sometime.
Pattern Explorer Level 2- This book could be math, science or logic. I’m using it on Fridays. The patterns included in this book are Pattern Predictor, Equality Explorer, Sequence Sleuth, Number Ninja, and Function Finder. They appear to be in a rotating model for forty sets. I think this level will be a great introduction to algebraic thinking. I’ll update you all when we get a bit further into the book.
Think Analogies® B1- What Pattern Explorer does for Math, this book does for words. The surprise factor to this volume was that there are directions for making games in the back of the book. Games are our jam, and this may push this book from the twice a week I scheduled up to three days a week. There are a couple of variations listed, but both involve you making up about 80 cards. You can use their suggested words or add in any spelling, Lit or vocab words that you want. The workbook pages walk kids through identifying and making analogies, which is a skill they will need for college entrance exams.
Crypto Mind Benders®: Classic Jokes- Really new. It looks so fun! What better way to practice Algebra and introduce kids to encryption! I’m saving it for the future since our schedule is getting full. It is an actual Crypto primer, and kids as young as third grade could tackle it with some thought. I included a sample page instead of the cover so you could get an idea of the skill level involved.
U.S. History Detective® Book 1- We finished an entire American History course from MP last semester, and so I planned on continuing on with this book. My loose plan is to keep studying different historical periods simultaneously. So for us right now that would mean both American History and our Eastern Hemisphere Geography Course from BookShark. Our day isn’t super long, but I’m adding Science back into the daily rotation, so I’m holding off scheduling this in for a few weeks. I may end up saving it for next Fall. We’re using it for sure though. The only thing holding me back is gauging the new work level. I’ll tell you what I like about it: this volume covers American History up to the Reconstruction Era so an 8th or 9th grader could cover all of American History in a no-nonsense way in either one or two years. There are about three pages of text per subject and then a couple pages of multiple choice questions and usually a written response question. Another thing: the fun facts are entertaining.
Mathematical Reasoning™ Level G-I’m loving pulling Math from different sources, and this is perfect for reviewing concepts sporadically or reinforcing concepts in a new way. Sometimes its all in the presentation and seeing an idea explained even slightly differently makes things click. This is an actual complete curriculum that you could use with no supplementing beyond math drills from K-6. We had used these books over the Summer and in between levels when a kid wasn’t exactly ready for the next level but also didn’t want to complete the same course over again.
Critical Thinking: Math Detective-Not only is this my free book, but it’s the one that my 13yo is most excited about! Come back next week for a lengthy review of this Awesomeness. I have a lot to say about this one!
Building Writing Skills Level 2- Also new! Good instructive writing sources are something I’m always looking for. What I like about it: There are separate rubrics and unambiguous instructions on the different types of writing. So, if your student is having trouble with a certain kind of writing you can pull this out to use as needed. The script inside includes Personal Narrative, Story Narrative, Argumentative/Persuasion Writing, and Informative/Explanatory Writing. For each type, your student gets to read a complete synopsis of someone else's writing all the way from pre-writing through each revision before attempting their own paper of that kind. I’m keeping it within arms reach even though I’m not sure when I should implement it. If we don’t use it during this school year I may open it up between LA levels. It’s a thin book, but packed with good stuff.