The Critical Thinking Company: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

My second-to-last Schoolhouse Crew Review of the year is for a company our family has ordered from often. The Critical Thinking Co has workbooks for almost every topic you can imagine, and our family has used many of them throughout our years of homeschooling. This time we received their new U.S. History Detective Book One by Steven Greif which covers United States history from the Colonial Era through the Reconstruction Era and fits in perfectly with our lessons this year. (Currently sales for $39.99.) 

Although this book is designed for grades 8-12+, my 6th grader joined my 10th and 12th graders and myself as we read through and discussed the lessons and activities in this book. Some, such as the writing tasks, were geared toward older students. It was even suggested that the essay questions were AP or college level in the teacher's introductory pages. But others were easy even for my 11 year old to complete. Multiple choice, charts, fill-in-the-blank, and essay type questions made up the bulk of the activities. The practical questions by this company are designed to improve kids' problem solving abilities. Vocabulary is built into each lesson. It worked well for our middle school son and high school daughters to learn together. 

The short lessons (most are just one or two pages of reading) progress chronologically. We took turns reading the lessons and then discussed the questions out loud with less writing. The paperback workbook is 330 pages (over an inch thick!) and includes answers to each question, too. Timelines are also included illustrating just how events fit compared to other events. 

Take a look at some of the interesting lessons covered:
*The American middle-class family in the mid 1800s
*Westward bound: the Oregon trail
*Water transportation: steamboats and canals 
*"All men are created equal": Declaration of Independence 
*General and President: Ulysses S. Grant
*"Terrible swift sword": impact of the Civil War

Our country has changed so much since the 1400s. Colorful maps in the book depict how it was then, in the 1700s, and how it progressively changed. "Fun facts" make kids think and apply what they read and think through it, not just parrot back answers. Bonus activities are included that also promote critical thinking. 

My senior appreciated that in addition to sharing about significant events, lessons also included how people were affected by the events. After the Revolutionary War, for example, farmers changed from producing crops mainly for their own families to farming as a business as they were no longer required to export their products to England. 

This book has been a good addition to our family's homeschool history lessons. 

Find The Critical Thinking Company online on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Others from the Schoolhouse Review Crew also reviewed these workbooks:

Fun-Time Phonics!  (Gr. PreK-2)
Surfing the Net: Science  (Gr. 3-6)
The Basics of Critical Thinking  (Gr. 4-9)
U. S. History Detective, Book 1  (Gr. 8-12+)
Practical Critical Thinking and Teacher Manual (Gr. 9-12+)

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The Critical Thinking Company Review

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