Though I’ve now seen their ads in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, when I first received two books from The Critical Thinking Company to review, I had never heard of them and had no idea what the books were for! Maybe you’re also unfamiliar with what Critical Thinking offers for your homeschool. I’m happy to be able to share a little bit with you.
Critical Thinking offers a variety of material for homeschooling families – from language arts for first and second grade and mathematics curricula for preschool through second to science curricula for third through sixth grades. They offer a complete line of workbooks called Building Thinking Skills for each level from preschool to sixth grade. These workbooks are tools to improve a student’s thinking skills (hence the title), which will in turn improve learning and test scores. Much of what I saw in the Building Thinking Skills workbooks is very similar to material I have seen on standardized tests during my own school years. I have been able to review the Beginnings and Level Two books.
Building Thinking Skills – Beginnings is geared toward preschool ages three and four. It begins with color and shape recognition, first asking the child to circle or point to a specific color or shape on each page. Later, they ask logic type questions such as, “Which figure is a circle and red?” and “Which figure is blue or a square?” The child learns to carefully pay attention to the question in order to find the right answer – an important skill indeed!
James has loved working through this book. The first day we started it, he worked over 30 pages of it. I figure that wasn’t the intention of the authors, but he was having a blast. He kept saying, “Let’s do another!” I finally had to say, “James, we really need to quit. We’ll do more tomorrow.” Whew!
Among many topics, the book contains pages on:
- Geometric Shapes
- Similarities and Differences
- Spatial Positioning
The pages progress from the very simple to the increasingly difficult. This, of course, helps build the confidence of the young student. If he goes through the pages in order, his skills will develop as he goes along and he won’t be hit with anything that is confusing or too difficult.
Unlike other workbooks we’ve bought from discount stores (you know, “Everything Your Preschooler Needs to Know” type workbooks), Building Thinking Skills progresses from simple to difficult while mixing up the topics. Some workbooks put all the pages on Sequencing, for example, together, and the Sequencing pages do progress from simple to more complex, but the final page of Sequencing (which is complex) is immediately followed by an ultra-simple page of Similarities and Differences. Either the student is confused or the teacher has to keep diligent track of which page needs to be completed on which day.
With Building Thinking Skills, it’s organized simply so that teacher and student can go from page one onward without the confusion or scheduling hassle.
Every page is full color making it eye-appealing and interesting for preschoolers. The pages are not perforated so they’ll need to be worked in the book itself. I’m not sure how easily they would tear out of the binding since I didn’t try.
Some of the activities are available in their own series. For example, one of our favorites is the “Can You Find Me?” activities. They go something like this:
My nose is red.
I ate all my food,
so now I am fed.
Of the three pictures that you see,
tell me now, can you find me?
There are three or four pictures beneath the rhyme, and only one fits the rhyme exactly. Very fun for the youngster, while building logical thinking. I love Dell Logic Puzzles and couldn’t help thinking that these were kid-sized logic puzzles. “Can You Find Me?” and other of the activities are, like I mentioned, available in their own workbooks as well.
Building Thinking Skills – Level 2 is designed for students in grades 4 – 6. Nicholas is sort of in third grade and sort of in second. By his birthday, he would be in second grade if attending public school. Way back when, I couldn’t see waiting until he was nearly six to start Kindergarten with him, so we started in late August of 2005 when he was still four (his birthday is in December). So he’s in his third grade year of our homeschool. He reads on a sixth grade level but is just finishing up the second grade math book (not because of ability per se but because we needed to take a full year to make sure he had all the addition and subtraction facts memorized). With all that said, he’s been able to work in the Level Two Beginnings workbook without any problem. (Yeah, we breed ‘em smart around here. Haha…just kidding…sort of…)
- Describing Shapes
- Figural Similarities and Differences
- Figural Classifications
- Verbal Sequencing
- Describing Things
- Verbal Analogies
The organization is very similar to the Beginnings workbook that I talked about above. The only major difference is that Level 2 is black and white with no colors. Not a big deal for this age level, though.
An answer guide is included for those of us who aren’t quite as smart in the logical thinking department as our young students.
Building Thinking Skills Beginnings, Level 2, and all other levels can be purchased for $29.99 from The Critical Thinking Company.
© 2009, Cindy. All rights reserved.