Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Basics of Critical Thinking- Schoolhouse Crew Review

The Critical Thinking Co. has always been one of those companies that I pour over their catalog when it comes in the mail. I mean, they just have an amazing bunch of books and such to choose from. From reading to history and language arts, you will find workbooks for all ages and just about every subject.

The Basics of Critical Thinking, recommended for grades 4-9, is one such book. However, this book is a bit different. It explains to a student what exactly critical thinking is and then teaches them how to use it. Through various activities in this 133 page book, your child will learn how to identify and sort through needed, and sometimes not needed information, and then evaluate that information to provide conclusions.

Sounds complicated? It can be at times in the real world! What is truth? Did they really mean that? Is that what it really said? Is that important? Is that logical?  All those things and so many more are important to critical thinking and can be hard concepts to teach. Luckily for us, The Critical Thinking Co. has taken the hard work for parents and made it into fun activities you can do with your children or they can work through on their own. Because they are in puzzle, mystery, and game fashion, I think your child(ren) will enjoy doing a few pages a day!

Chapters include-
• What Is Critical Thinking?
• Conclusions and Decisions
• Beliefs and Claims
• Finding (Identifying) Evidence
• Evaluating Evidence
• Inferring and Inferences
• Facts and Opinions
• Facts and Probable Truths
• False and Probably False
• Facts, Probably True, and Probably False
• Venn Diagrams
• Logical Connectives
• Advertising
• Agreements and Contracts
• Common Errors in Reasoning
• Arguments
• Valid and Invalid Arguments
• Fallacies
• Analogy Argument

How we used it and what we think-

I accepted this review (ok begged nicely for it) with my 3rd grader in mind. We are thick in the middle of learning about thinking things out before we make decisions.  Can anyone relate? I hoped that instead of mom just saying "stop and think first," The Basics of Critical Thinking would help teach the same thing. You know, that whole, "if someone else says it other than mom I actually might listen" phenomenon. Because he is currently under the recommended age range, I did anticipate he would need a little help.

I began the book with my older son, an 8th grader, doing a few pages together. It was a fun way to spend some time with him. He had had some introduction to similar activities so he was able to jump right in, and in a few cases did better than I did.  Go figure. Throughout the review period, he also picked up the book several times (the advantage to leaving it on the coffee table in plain sight) and did a few of the activities by himself. The Finding Evidence chapter was his favorite because the puzzles are like a mini who-done-it type thing.

As for the my 3rd grader?  Some areas he did really well with and others, not so much.  He tends to almost overthink things and wants to add in what he thinks are logical thoughts and conclusions based on his own experiences.  He tended to get frustrated when he did not understand something, showing his age.  I had hoped that it would be a good activity for the boys working together, but though it did bring a few giggles, it mostly brought frustration on both of their parts. Bag the teamwork idea! Instead, it became mommy time where we would snuggle on the couch and try a few pages at a time, which went more smoothly.

As with all the other books I have used from The Critical Thinking Co., I really like this book! It is full color and fun to use.  It takes a light-hearted approach to learning the skill of critical thinking and is a fun way to spend a few minutes each day learning. I also think it would be a good book to add to your Fridays if that is a day that you count as an "extra" in your homeschool. In the past we have used Fridays to add in more fun subjects that the kids can explore on their own, such as math and logic games and activities books like this one. Older kids will have no problem doing this book on their own, just be prepared to be stumped a time or two when they come ask you what you would do! Luckily for the teacher, the answers ARE included!
The Critical Thinking Company Review
Crew Disclaimer

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. I love hearing from you!