Monday, November 9, 2015

The Basics of Critical Thinking {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Sometimes I am surprised when a review product fits in perfectly at our house, even if the perfect fit wasn't what I thought it would be.

I originally picked The Basics of Critical Thinking from The Critical Thinking Co. for Brennan to use as a resource that would correspond to his online Introductory Logic class. Although it didn't correspond well with his class and he didn't want to do it "just for fun," it ended up being a great addition to my school days with Lauren.

Despite the rather plain-looking cover, the inside pages are bright and appealing. Lauren saw me looking through it one morning and asked if it was for her. I decided to give it a shot.

The Basics of Critical Thinking is intended for students in fourth through ninth grade. Lauren is at the lower end of the age recommendation and isn't quite ready to handle completing the work independently. She is, however, doing a great job of discussing the materials and figuring out the correct answers as we work through them together.

Her favorite pages are the ones where she's given a set of four suspects and a series of clues. For instance, in the page shown below, there are four mens suspected of stealing a dog out of a car in a parking lot. The police interviewed three witnesses who all gave slightly different descriptions. Based on the witness statements, Lauren deduced that the suspect labeled with a "C" was the thief.

I like the way this workbook provides charts at the bottom of each scenario so that we can evaluate the evidence given. For each sentence, Lauren decides whether that sentence indicates that a particular suspect is the thief, that the suspect is not the thief, or that it doesn't help in the determination (in which case we don't circle anything for that sentence). After analyzing all of the sentences, she is then able to determine the most likely suspect.

A similar identification activity asked Lauren to look at illustrations of four different eels and to evaluate the descriptions given by three different deep sea divers.

Lauren would be happy if I let her do one of the Finding Evidence activities every day, but I've decided to space them out throughout the book so that we don't run out of the "fun stuff" too quickly. We recently moved on to pages discussing the differences between facts and opinions. I always just assumed that was an easy concept, but we've had a few times when we discussed the statement for a quite a while before determining if it was a fact or an opinion.

Later lessons in this book deal with advertising, reasoning errors, invalid arguments, and fallacies. I look forward to working through the rest of the book with Lauren so that we can both brush up on our thinking skills.

The Basics of Critical Thinking is 152 pages long and costs $22.99. The Critical Thinking Co. has a wide variety of other materials that we've used and loved over the years, including Editor in Chief, Balance Math, and Mind Benders books for various ages.

The Critical Thinking Company Review

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