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The Basics of Critical Thinking (Review)

I received The Basics of Critical Thinking from The Critical Thinking Co. to use with Ethan (and plan to purchase one for Lance too!).
The target age/grade is for children in 4th-9th grade. I think it's a great Jr. High course. I plan to have Ethan complete a few pages a week. We are going to take our time with it. Now that he's in 8th grade his homeschooling load is increasing and I don't want to overwhelm him.

The Basics of Critical Thinking is full color and the original owner has permission to copy for their use ONLY. I love how generous The Critical Thinking Co. is with allowing families to make copies. With that said though I pan to purchase another for Lance. It just makes things easier for me.
The Critical Thinking Co.

My two boys don't like school. They'd rather be climbing trees, playing with LEGO blocks, or playing Minecraft so I really, really, appreciate that The Basics of Critical Thinking minimizes the "lecture" time. The lessons are easy-to-understand using diagrams and engaging in short activities.

My kiddos will be introduced to common argument forms and fallacies but won't be bogged down with all the technical names. This gives them the chance to learn how to evaluate claims and arguments (so they know in real life situations) without the stress of formal terminology which they can learn when they are older when they can handle it. I want my kids to enjoy learning because what they enjoy they will remember.

The course starts with having your child do a pretest. Note: it doesn't look like a test. It's only one page, is colorful, and looks fun. And at the end a posttest.
The Critical Thinking Co.

There are 20 lesson, each lesson is between 3-6 pages long. Your child will learn:

  • What is Critical Thinking?
  • Decisions & Conclusions
  • Beliefs and Claims
  • Finding Evidence
  • Evaluating Evidence
  • Inferring and Inferences
  • Facts and Opinions
  • Facts and Probable Truths
  • False and Probably False
  • Facts, Probably True, or Probably False
  • Venn Diagrams
  • Logical Connectives
  • Advertising (can't wait for my boys to get to this one)
  • Agreements and Contracts
  • Common Errors in Reasoning
  • Arguments
  • Valid and Invalid Arguments
  • Fallacies
  • Analogy Arguments
  • Using Critical Thinking to Make Better Decisions
Whew! That's a lot of learning.

Also included in this consumable, 145 page, full color, paperback book is the answer key which I'm so thankful a separate answer book is not needed. Not only does it make the course more affordable but less books to keep track of.

This is a great precursor to Practical Critical Thinking for grades 7-12. You can read my review, currently Caleb my 10th grade son is working through that one. I hope to have him use the James Madison Critical Thinking Course as well or You Decide!

As you may know if you are a regular reader of Homeschooling6. I absolutely love The Critical Thinking Co. curriculum. They have some amazing products. We have used them of-and-on throughout our homeschooling years.
The Critical Thinking Co.
My final thoughts on The Basics of Critical Thinking: I love that it's in color. For most kids color is always fun. At the same time it's not overly colorful so it's not distracting. 

For the younger child, I'd take my time and work through it slowly. Have the child work through the course over a few years. For most Jr.High kiddos I think they can wrap it up in a year. My boys have struggled with reading in the past and are now doing a lot better. They struggle with pencil phobia so we plan to take it slow. 

Lance will start half way into his 6th grade year or maybe at the beginning of his 7th. Ethan is using it now and will hopefully complete it before he starts high school (yikes, where has time gone!).

Bible Bunny Learns to Read by The Thinking Tree (Review)

This post may contain affiliate links.
please read my disclosure.
The Thinking Tree has a new journal out. It's super adorable: Bible Bunny. It's a wonderful companion book to Teach Your Child to Read, Write, & Spell: 100 Easy Bible Verses.

This is a 6x8 journal ~perfect for little hands to carry and so much more fun to work in because the children will think of it as just their size!

Your little one can learn to read 30 Bible verses with Bible Bunny and all the siblings!

Each Bible verse is centered around a word like: trust, fear, hope, needs, confidence, and so forth. There are six activities per verse. Each page has a different activity. All fun and adorable. Your child will:

  • Color a picture
  • Read a verse (mom can help if needed)
  • Dot-to-dots
  • Color words
  • Complete logic puzzles
  • Trace and color a picture
  • Draw a picture about the verse
  • Copy the Bible verse
  • Thank God or write a prayer

 I love the dot-to-dots that are included in this journal:Bible Bunny. 

The verse correlates with the "main" word ~used for the week (a week if your child is doing 1 page a day). For beginning readers, can read the verse several times first. Point to each word as you say it. Everyday before starting a new page, I'd suggest to go over the verse with your child again.

A fun way to remember and memorize the verse is to copy each word on a separate piece of paper. Then have the child hop on each paper with the word you called out. Depending on the child's age you can put the words in order to memorize the verse and then mix them up to help remember the word. You'll have your little bunnies hopping all over the place.

Use index cards to put the verse in order on the table. The possibility are endless with using the verse as a springboard with teaching your child to read.

Again depending on the age of your child use magnets to spell words like 'trouble' for older kids and words like 'not' for younger ones. If you don't have magnets write the words on paper or index cards and cut the up. Use cubes with letters on them too!
 Tracing the bunny helps with fine motor skills related to writing. Coloring gives your child time to be calm and in a more relaxed state which can help a child remember what he's learning.

 Drawing a picture about the verse is another way to retain what the child is learning and grasp the meaning of the verse. I have a friend who has her child draw pictures in order of the verse to help her child memorize it.

I love the little logic puzzles too. They are non stressful but has a purpose too, working those little minds.
Google copywork and you'll find many articles and blog post of the benefits of copywork. It's amazing that a simple concept can be so powerful with learning how to put words together, spell, read, and write. You can even go over a few grammar and/or punctuation rules (keeping it fun of course). Say, "Why do you think that comma is there?" let your child think about, encourage, and explain it always ending with, "Great job!" or some other words of affirmation.

Thank you God for, what a great way to end a set of activity pages !

Another wonderful journal by The Thinking Tree. These books are amazing. I love the non stressful way the Thinking Tree helps children learn to read, write, & spell.

Novel Thinking from The Critical Thinking Co. (Review)

The Critical Thinking Co. never disappoints! I love their stuff. Lance will use the Novel Thinking~ In Their Own Words: Abraham Lincoln.
My son has been having it on easy street when it comes to a literature program, so this year I thought we'd better get him started.

In Their Own Words is geared toward grades 3-6, perfect for Lance who will be in grade 6. The guide will help your child with reading comprehension and vocabulary covering:
  • Main Idea & Supporting Details
  • Characters, Setting, and Plot
  • Cause & Effect
  • Making Inferences and Predictions
  • Drawing Conclusion
  • Comparing & Contrasting
  • Sequencing
As you can see your child will cover a lot while reading about Abraham Lincoln and completing the 100 page workbook.

In Their Own Words: Abraham Lincoln there are 14 Lessons (chapters) each Chapter has between 3-4 pages of activities to be completed.

Depending on your child's age, reading level, and writing skills you can pace your child, have him complete one to two chapters a week. 

Each workbook chapter starts with Vocabulary. Your child will find the parts of speech and match the vocabulary word to the correct definition.

Sometimes your child will use Word Play using the vocabulary words to complete analogies, unscramble words, or practice synonym/antonym.
Children will study the characters, problem & solutions, drawing conclusions, these are just some of the many ways your child will delve into the book.

Your child will answer comprehension questions like: How did the Sumpreme Court rule in the Dred Scott decision? How did the court explain that decision? Give two reasons. As you can see these questions are thought provoking. Your child will have to think and not simply write yes or no and/or fill in the blank. 

Another assignment has your child summarize briefly the main points chapters 1-6 in complete sentences.

When completed your child will have completed a:
  • compare/contrast writing paper
  • creative writing assignment
  • research paper
There is a lot of processing and learning within the 100 pages of the Novel Thinking book!

An Answer Key is included in the back which I love because you don't have a separate book for answers. Keep it simple for this homeschooling mama!
With Lance I plan on him completing a chapter a week. I'd prefer two chapters to get done but with his reading and writing skills I think one is plenty. Now if this was my daughter in 6th grade I can see her completing two or three chapters/lessons a week because she was very independent and grade levels above in reading and writing (she's now in 11th grade) so these Novel Thinking books are pretty flexible.

Novel Thinking Lesson Guides do not include the actual reading book.

Final thoughts: I love how the Novel Thinking guide really gets the child thinking. It's not a lot of fill-in-the blanks. Instead there's thought provoking questions.

I LOVE French Fries

For the last two weeks I've had some splurges. One of my downfalls is FRENCH FRIES! I love french fries.
 French fries from Wing Stop and below Chick-fil-A