I have been blessed with the opportunity to review a lot of homeschooling products this school year as a member of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. Many of the products are from new companies just trying to break into the homeschooling market. The Critical Thinking Company is not one of those new companies. They have been specializing in products to improve children’s thinking skills for 50 years. I received Building Thinking Skills Level 2 for grades 4-6 to review. The objective of this program is best quoted from their website.
Building Thinking Skills® provides highly effective verbal and nonverbal reasoning activities to improve vocabulary, reading, writing, math, logic, and figural-spatial skills, as well as visual and auditory processing. This exceptional skill set provides a solid foundation for academic excellence and success on any assessment test.
This is a 408 page book including 1378 activities! The book is divided into 2 main sections: a figural (dealing with shapes) section and a verbal section. For each figural section there is a corresponding verbal section. For example, chapter 1 is Describing Shapes while Chapter 6, the corresponding verbal chapter, is Describing Things. You can use this book sequentially, first doing all the figural topics, then moving on to the verbal topics, or you can alternate: first completing the figural chapter, and skipping to the corresponding verbal chapter for each topic. The topics include:
- Similarities and Differences
The complete table of contents can be found here on the Critical Thinking website.
View sample pages.
As you can see, the worksheets have instructions, a sample problem, and a few practice problems for each concept. They are black and white without unnecessary graphics. The text starts off with very simple concepts but using small, sequential steps, builds to more complex problems.
I think this is an outstanding product. I really love the figural section. It has lots of fun spatial problems doing things like picturing where holes on pages would be when it’s folded and other things like that. (I was an engineer so I like doing these kind of things for fun.) I can see how working through this text would greatly improve a child’s ability to solve problems. Another great aspect of this product is that it is reproducible within your home. So, I can legally make copies and reuse the text for my younger children. That is a big plus for me. (I should note that not all the levels are reproducible.) Also, this program costs only $29.99, an extremely reasonable price for the size of this book.
If your child struggles with higher order thinking and making connections between seemingly disconnected facts, then this is the program for you. If your child is way ahead of the curve in terms of analytical reasoning and logical thinking, then this may be a good supplement to enhance his critical thinking skills and potentially improve his test scores. You should remember, you are not obligated to assign all 1378 activities in this book (or all the activities in any book, for that matter). When you purchase this curriculum, make sure your child enjoys the activities, and within reason let him work at his own pace. Integrate this book with your Math and English curricula where possible so you are not simply adding yet another new subject to your already full plate.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Building Thinking Skills in order to complete this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.
By Kristen H.