Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Critical Thinking Co.

Are you a Critical Thinker? See if you can figure out the following:
  1. You have only an 8-liter jug and a 3-liter jug. Both containers are unmarked. You need exactly 4 liters of water. How can you get it, if a water faucet is handy?
  2. While relaxing on the deck outside her cabin one summer evening, Vivian fell into a deep trance-like sleep. When she awoke, she felt as if she had slept only an hour or two, but it was now the middle of winter. How could this be?

The Critical Thinking Co. offers products that will help children develop and strengthen critical thinking skills. I had the opportunity to use one of their titles: Building Thinking Skills- Primary.

The Primary book is for Grades K-1. This large volume, 265 pages broken down into eleven chapters, begins with describing shapes and ends with making analogies. The first four chapters on shapes does require the use of attribute blocks and interlocking cubes available for separate purchase on the website. Children learn to describe a shape by color, size, location (middle, first, last, left, right, top, bottom, above, and below), and to be able to write the descriptions as well. They match, compare, and sequence shapes. Finally, children learn to group, sort, and classify shapes. Starting in Chapter 5 and going all the way to the end of the book, using the skills already learned about describing, sequencing, and classifying, children begin to organize information about family members, food, animals, occupations, vehicles, and buildings.

My final verdict: This book is a fantastic resource to get my daughter thinking critically! I like how it gets her to look at attributes to organize and classify. It is a fun way to begin to learn to look at information and make sense of it. Some downers: This workbook is expensive ($29.99) and the necessary blocks and cubes make it an even larger investment ($20.99 and $11.99). The workbook is non-reproducible, so one per child is necessary. The pages are not perforated. It soon becomes difficult to write, trace, and color when the child's hand is resting on the large lump of book spine due to the workbook's many pages. My solution? This is a workbook that I will probably end up chopping off the binding, three-hole-punching, and putting in a ringed binder so that my daughter can work on the pages individually without burden. Is this book worth the cost? I believe so. Yes it's pricey, but I believe it's money well spent to get a child off to a good start learning basic skills for thinking critically...and the workbook makes it FUN! The Critical Thinking Co. has LOTS of books and software to exercise the brain. Check them out, and find out the answers to the two questions above and more to see if you ARE a Critical Thinker!

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