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The Critical Thinking Co. is known for their curriculum for Math, Science, Reading, Writing, and Social Studies - all with a focus on problem solving. We were first introduced to this company by a friend who recommended starting our day with Mind Benders. Which we have been using for the last three years. For this review we were sent Pattern Explorer Level 1.
Pattern Explorer Level 1 is a soft bound workbook. It is intended for grades 5-7. According to the book introduction the student uses math and science to work through the patterns on each worksheet page. The book contains 40 exercises. It also has hint pages and a solution section.
My 12 year old 7th grader was the main person using this book. When we first got it I worked through the first couple of exercises with him so he would know what he was supposed to be doing. Even Dad helped a little. I found this to be fun working on it together and if we had time to do that everyday I would totally have liked to do that. It would have been neat to compete a bit with the two older kids (that is how we do the Mind Benders.)
However, at this time in the school year, I needed him to do independent work so I sent him up to work this book that way. I scheduled him to work on this book three times a week. Typically Monday- Wednesday, as those are our fullest days for schooling in the house. (Thursday/Friday we do music lessons and speech for our youngest in the afternoons so our school days are shorter.) It took him about ten minutes each day to complete the exercise. This wasn't time consuming at all. With this pace we will finish the book fairly soon. You could easily break the worksheets up to stretch the book out for a whole year or finish it fairly quickly and work on another book from The Critical Thinking Co. each semester.
I personally love these type of books. Workbooks are easy to add in to our current curriculum and they are portable for on the go learning. While some may say it is busy work, I think it is motivational work. Busy work implies it isn't needed but I think using logic, math, reasoning and science helps keep the mind shartp. Exactly the kind of thing I like in our home.
My son enjoys activities like this. He finds the challenge to be worth the few minutes it takes to work through the worksheet. He also feels a great sense of accomplishment when completing his work. I love that an unintended benefit to this book is building confidence. He had a good time with this review.
As for the worksheets, themselves, the patterns can be tricky. You do have to think outside the box sometimes to figure them out. Math is definitely used often during this book. I like how each page switched things up. You couldn't just rely on what you did the day before to answer today's pattern. There are several types of patterns you work on through out the book and they do increase in difficulty. For the short amount of time you are working, your brain sure does get a nice workout!
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