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The Critical Thinking Co. Review

U.S. History Detective
If you are a regular reader you may know that I love The Critical Thinking Co. They have some really, really, impressive homeschooling material. I have used their math books, critical thinking books, and a few language arts components.

The most recent item that we are using here at Homeschooling6 is U.S. History Detective Book One. This is a 363 page colorful American History book recommended for grades 8-12+. 

The skills are based on common state social study standards for 8th grade. U.S. History Detective can be used as a supplement or as a stand-alone history text. If using with an older student this would be great as a supplement or to review American history.
U.S. History Detective Book 1 consist of 9 sections or chapters. The first starting with The Colonial Era and the last being Reconstruction Era.

Each section has between 6-9 lessons for a total of 65 lessons. By completing 2 lessons a week this course can be completed in a year as a stand-alone history text. If using it as a supplement and having your child complete 1 lesson a week it will take about 2 years to complete.

How U.S. History Detective Book One works: Each lesson contains a reading selection of 2-3 pages with maps, pictures, and a fun fact. Once the child completes the reading there are multiple choice questions, with the multiple choice your child will also will have to find the sentence(s) that best supports the answer. There are also venn diagrams, written response questions, and analytical essay questions.
What makes The Critical Thinking Co. American History book unique is it requires deeper analysis and how the text has the child find supporting evidence from the lesson. Your child must draw inferences and conclusions, they will sort through what is fact or opinion when answering the questions and writing the short essays after each lesson.
Most history text include:
  • Understanding historical chronology
  • Timelines
  • Vocabulary usage
  • Geographical maps
But The Critical Thinking Co. takes it even further by including:
  • Essay Evidence
  • Drawing inferences and conclusions
  • Distinguishing between facts and opinions
  • College level analytical essay questions
  • develops reading comprehension and writing skills
 How we used U.S. History Detective Book One: Caleb my 8th grade student helped me with this review. Because he has a main history curriculum already we decided to use this as a supplement. As a supplement he’s been completing one lesson a week.

Before Caleb starts reading the 2-3 pages I have him look at the title and headings. I have him turn some of them into questions. I also have him look at the maps, pictures, and read the captions. And lastly before reading I have him asks questions about the text. I read that having your child do this before reading helps him/or retain more of the information. It only takes minutes for Caleb to do this.

Caleb struggles somewhat with reading so I sat with him and have him read the pages to me or sometimes we took turns.

With the questions and essays I’ve had him answer in a notebook. The Critcial Thinking Co. is very generous with their copyright and gives permission for the immediate family to copy the pages but because there are a lot of pages and many in color we chose to use a notebook. By doing this Caleb does have to copy the venn diagrams and/or draw the concept maps.

The toughest part for Caleb is writing the short essays. This is a challenge for him but a good one. One that will help him throughout his life and thankfully he sees it as a good thing.

Our thoughts: It’s a keeper. I love everything about U.S. History Detective Book One. I like that the book can be used as a stand-alone U.S. history text or as a supplement. As a supplement it’s not overwhelming.

It keeps Caleb’s interest. Although he’s not jumping up-and-down with excitement he doesn’t mind it being added to his current history studies.

And I found U.S. History Detective interesting. When Caleb’s book went missing he often found it in my bedroom on my nightstand!

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