Critical Thinking Co. – A Schoolhouse Review

My son had no idea how much fun grammar could be. Honestly, he hated it. Until we received Editor in Chief Level 1 from The Critical Thinking Co.  It certainly helped too that my son loves the idea of being “in charge” so once he fully understood the meaning of Editor in Chief – that really peaked his interest!

The Critical Thinking Co. is known for its high quality, award-winning books ranging from PreK-12. These books focus on helping children to think critically and analyze what they are learning. As their missions statement says, “We do not teach through drill and memorization or teach to the tests—we empower the mind!”  Prior to this I had no experience at all with these materials but since I have been able to use one…I think I am hooked. 🙂 

I had the opportunity to review the Editor in Chief Level 1 which is recommended for students in grades 4/5. This is a consumable, paperback workbook full of Language Arts activities; exercises that are interesting and appealing on so many different levels.  As you work through the Editor in Chief it teaches grammar but in a different way. The student is the teacher.  They must have a critical eye, focus on detail and correct any errors they find within the readings. There are approximately 69 pages within this book.  And after three lessons, there is a nice little review too.

Lessons consist of:

  1. Content
  2. Capitalization
  3. Punctuation
  4. Spelling Rules
  5. Nouns and Pronouns
  6. Adjectives, Adverbs, and Articles
  7. Verbs
  8. Agreement
  9. Conjunctions, Prepositions, and Interjections
  10. Confusing Word Pairs/Negative Words
  11. Homophones and Homographs
  12. Run-On Sentences and Sentence Fragments

Each lesson gives clear and concise instructions, which was great for my son to be able to strenghten his skills a bit in working independently. It also made it a lot easier for him to really focus on the passages presented too, since they were shorter lessons.  The lessons started out with content; this requires the correcting of errors, and of course close attention to detail. “How to Make a Banana Split” was one such lesson which my son (with quite the sweet tooth) really enjoyed.

First he would read the passage, and and then had to compare it with the photo/caption provided. There is also an optional lesson, an opportunity to rewrite the passage once corrected. We used this ourselves since handwriting is not a strong suit of his. It took some time, maybe 5 or 6 lessons, for my son to really copy the corrected passage properly.  It helped too, that as we went along we began to correct the above passage with red ink (or any color that stood out) so when he copied it later on, the corrections stood out more. As the lessons progressed there did come a time when we worked at these together a bit more since some of the errors were quite difficult to find.  I consider myself pretty wise the grammar department but they really do challenge you with this one.  If you are afraid you won’t be able to find these errors yourself, never worry, the answers are in the back of the book if you need them.

As you complete the various lessons all of the rules are given for the topic at hand in the very first lesson, and then they are off to find the errors in the paragraphs.  My son really enjoyed the variety of topics covered within each of the passages and in fact some of these really were lessons in themselves in science, history, even math.  For example, as my son read and corrected a passage on sharks he learned that they lay eggs on the ocean floor and that many of the cases look like plants (acting as camouflage until hatched).  In another he had to compute how many 1/2 cups would equal out to four cups. It was a little error, something easy to overlook but great for attention, focus and measuring (math) skills too. Needless to say the topics for every passage were full of opportunities for learning, more than just grammar, fascinating topics that would be of interest, even to this momma.

Suffice to say, we really enjoyed the Editor in Chief Level 1. It was so much more than we could have hoped for and it really challenged the both of us.  There was much that I learned right along with my son. And I always love materials that help him to see that learning is a lifelong (and fun!) thing.  We are definitely going to be looking into more of their products in the near future (for our littler ones too!)

Critical Thinking Company Review

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