TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review

The Critical Thinking Co.™ {Review}

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in reading, writing and math that I think we forget about some of those other skills; ones that are just as necessary for our children to learn and embrace. Public speaking, critical thinking, problem solving – Am I the only one who forget about these? As I was listening to a seminar the other day on the value of our children being able to express “why” (in relation to faith but this can apply to so much more) I got to thinking about how little we have been doing in this area. Particularly when it comes to my oldest son, I wonder sometimes – can he truly think deeply, come to his own intelligent conclusions based on a study of evidence at hand, when the need arises? This is a time when I am so very grateful for The Critical Thinking Co.™. We were recently given the opportunity to explore a fun Whodunnit Forensic Mystery, Something Fishy at Lake Iwannafisha. Recommended for grades 5-12, what better way to work on critical thinking skills than by taking part in our very own investigation!

This is not as silly as it may sound. There certainly is something fishy going on; with witness and suspect profiles, police reports and forensic reports. There are timelines and lab reports to review. This really is no joke. It is an amazing and very thorough (I think ) book, introducing our children to the fine art of forensic science and crime solving. Initially I had thought this would be something my oldest son could do on his own but once this arrived and I dug into the first few pages, I saw that this would require a bit more guidance. And that this would be lots of fun to do all together too! Since my younger son is only eight, but very much a critical thinker already, it was determined that this could be a great opportunity for them to grow their relationship, working as a team, to solve this crime. 🙂

My oldest son had the opportunity to complete a mock forensic science workshop about a year ago and he really enjoyed it. Ironically, his old babysitter is in college studying forensic science (another reason he is so interested in this). And me being a huge Agatha Christie fan; there is something to be said for this sort of thing really helping us to learn how to think. And how to think differently too. Sometimes it isn’t about what is said but what is not said. It is good for us to be able to see things from a variety of perspectives; sometimes we need to see what isn’t there.


We began this journey, together reading through the overview of the crime that took place at the Hartmann fishing cabin, which is being used for a counterfeit money ring. This is where we meet Robbie and Tyler (my oldest son thought it was kind of cool since that’s his name too!) Fast forward to one year later when Tyler and Patsy are back at the cabin, counterfeiting some more money, and this time, a neighbor of theirs is also killed after discovering their operation. This time, a concerned momma, calls the police and even though the criminals flee, there was a witness to their get away. And this begins the investigation.


What do you know about fingerprinting? You will know plenty by the time you are through: why they are left behind, various patterns and other things that make prints so important. You also learn how to recover fingerprints. I think my boys had a great time with this part; dusting with powder and then covering with tape to lift the print and place it on a note card. We went through a lot of scotch tape for this one! 😛


How about an autopsy? There is so much that can be learned from the body and the location of a victim; we certainly learned a couple things here. Did you know that a forensic entomologist studies insects and specifically their relationship to a criminal investigation? An insect can tell you the time of death based upon its life cycle and the conditions of the environment surrounding the death It is said that insects are usually the first ones to discover a corpse.

What can handwriting possibly tell you? In case you didn’t know there are lots of different ways you can learn about someone by simply studying their handwriting. Is it smooth or shaky? Are some lines darker or wider than others? Many of our writing habits are carried into adulthood and our handwriting becomes such a natural and subconscious thing, we don’t even realize how much it says about us.

This really is just like a real crime investigation. As momma or daddy, you even get to be the police sergeant. Don’t worry, this includes plenty of instructions to help you in your role.



As they come to you to obtain various reports for review they’re also forms that will need to be filled out. This is why the critical thinking skills really start to come in handy.

My boys really did enjoy this project. I think they’re still working through this too. I mean, there are just so many amazing things to learn within the pages of this book and so many opportunities to go deeper.

My oldest son completed his merit badge in rifle shooting and so as they we’re studying ballistics here they certainly went off the rails a couple times. It’s amazing all that they learned about ballistics and I would encourage them to explore every further. Looking for themselves in regards to striation and you can explore forever it seems the various firearms that are out there. I think they learned quite a bit of math unbeknownst to them as they explored trajectories even!

There is just so much that I could say about the pages within this book. It was good also to see my boys working together with a common goal since their relationship has certainly not been at its best lately. This is definitely a wonderful opportunity for our kids to explore some topics that we may not think to include. I honestly do not think we ever would have studied any of these topics (counterfeit money, paper types, anthropology…) had it not been for this workbook opening a door that my children have actually become very eager to go through!



This really is an amazing company. They have so many materials too, for all ages and abilities, to help   critical thinking skills. In fact, they’re even offering to our readers free shipping and 15% off any size order with a special coupon code below. And if you aren’t sure that you would like to order yet consider grabbing some of their free critical thinking puzzles. These are delivered every week to your email inbox. There are four different grade levels to choose from and I know my kids look forward to every one of these.  What a way to get those juices flowing at the start of each week. There really is just so much for your children to enjoy; even though I am not really a fan of workbooks in general, these are not your average workbooks. Every one of the materials is so unique;, requiring our children to truly exercise that muscle in their head


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