Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Critical Thinking Press~ Books for all ages

I have a few "The Critical Thinking Co."  books that I have enjoyed using with my children over the years, but as they have gotten older, there are some products I didn't own that I have wanted to examine in person. Timberdoodle graciously offered my choice of one The Critical Thinking Co. book for each child to use in exchange for an honest review. It was hard to choose, as Timberdoodle carries over 40 Critical Thinking Co. products. Read on to see what we ended up with and our thoughts.....

For my Eldest, we chose to use  Editor In Chief B.  (List price $16.99) I think our "Editing" skills have been a little neglected, and being busy (As most moms with 3 children, one of whom is a 3yo, usually are), I was very happy to have a product that includes an answer key! :) (Call me "lazy", I prefer "practical" :)

As opposed to the generic proofreading exercises in her spelling book, Editor in Chief has some great features that I am especially impressed with.
  • Editing Checklist ~ which gives hints to help the student remember what to look for in their editing tasks.
  • Answer Key that provides more than just the generic corrected  selection, but a list of the number and types of errors(so you can give hints, if your student is having a tough time finding everything), a paragraph with superscribed numbers showing the location of the errors, and a key explaining the errors with numbers referencing each item in the guide to grammar and usage (mentioned next), as well as a complete, corrected paragraph.
  • Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation in the back of the book, which covers all the skills found in this book. I appreciate having this to fall back on, occasionally, when explaining why something is wrong. Each entry includes at least one or two examples to further help in instructing.
Bonus~ my  Eldest has now decided that proofreading really IS kind of fun~ it's a puzzle! :)

Next, for my Middlest, I chose Building Thinking Skills Book 2  (List Price $29.99) I'm not sure if it's just that he's a boy who is 10,  or what, but we can surely use some critical thinking practice! This hefty book  is filled with higher order thinking skills exercises (367 pages of them!) that include both visual discrimination/ spatial exercises ( Describing Shapes, Figural Similarities and Differences, Figural Sequences, Figural Classifications, and Figural Analogies)  and verbal exercises (Describing Things, Verbal Similarities and Differences, Verbal Sequences, Verbal Classifications, and Verbal Analogies).

Building Thinking SkillsDue to the amount of material covered in this book, I don't feel as though we have really scratched the surface(Hard to do justice to 3 years worth of material in a couple of months), but so far I am very hopeful that it will help encourage my Middlest to pay attention to detail and follow directions. As far as he is concerned, he likes it because it is fun and quick. I love finding things that are "Fun and Quick" but are really exercising their brains! :D  Speaking of "Fun", if you are looking to add some fun to your homeschool day, Timberdoodle has a nice selection of Thinking Skills Games or Educational Games (Including our Christmas Favorite, Thinking Putty. You can read about it here). There are some other nifty items that I think may end up being "Favorite presents" that my kids never knew they wanted, and the best part is... they are all "Brain Food" games! :)

Finally, we come to Littlest. I didn't even know that Critical Thinking offered books for the Pre-K crowd, so I decided to see what Math Reasoning Beginning PreK  ($29.99 List Price) had to offer. This was very timely, because Littlest really wants to be part of "School", and has loved numbers for quite some time. This is right up his alley, and he wants to do "my math book" or "my school book" most every day!
The skills covered in Math Reasoning Beginning PreK are:
  • Counting
  • Identifying
  • Matching
  • Ordering
  • Position
  • Comparing and Estimating
  • Addition
  • Suptraction
  • Locating
  • Writing
  • Grouping
  • Patterns
  • Geometric Shapes
  • Measurement
  • Data/Probability
  • Fractions
PreK Mathematical ReasoningEach concept is introduced, and continues to spiral throughout the 235 pages of activities. Many of the pages are full color, which adds to the appeal.

My Littlest (he's 3 years old) isn't fond of coloring or drawing lines, so most of the time we just read over the pages that require coloring, and say something along the lines of "If you were going to color 3 cars, can you point to the ones you would color?" He thinks that is just fine. :) This flows very well with the general tenor of the book, which includes pages that have instructions like: "Touch and count...." or "Touch and say...."
However, I can sometimes get him to color.... aren't these pretty??? (And yes... he got tired of coloring before he finished the 2nd chicken, so he had a little help. I still think they are fun!)

So far I haven't seen anything not to like in any of the books that we were sent, and I am very happy to include them in our homeschool days. As a matter of fact, I'm almost certain that I will be purchasing other levels of these books in the future. They are that good! :)

One more note~ be sure to check out any Critical Thinking Co. book that you are interested in on the Timberdoodle website~ most of them have sample pages up, so that you can get a feel for what's inside before you buy.

Legal Disclosure:
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. Hope it was helpful to you.

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