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Nov 9, 2016

The Critical Thinking Co. ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

"If we teach children everything we know, their knowledge is limited to ours. 
If we teach children to think, their knowledge is limitless." 
~ Michael Baker, President

The Critical Thinking Co.™ is a family business founded nearly 60 years ago.  Their focus is teaching children how to think critically and problem solve while educating them in the more traditional subjects of language arts, math, science, and history.  What is critical thinking? defines critical thinking as "disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence."  Learning to employ critical thinking can improve grades and test scores in the school years, but will also better equip children to thrive in adulthood.  Through their Critical Giving program, the company donates two or more products to children in need with every purchase.

Language Smarts is a series of books for grades 1-4.  Language Smarts™ Level E is for grade 4.  The colorful 392 page paperback workbook can be used as your core language arts curriculum or as a wonderful supplement to most any grade level textbook.  The website has sample pages available for each level, as well a multitude of other great products. 

Under the Standards section, the pages which teach critical thinking skills (which are emphasized throughout the workbook) are highlighted.  Following that, the contents are sorted by topic and listed in an easy to use table.  Some of the concepts and skills taught in Language Smarts Level E are normally taught in fifth grade.

Some of the *Very Many* topics covered in Language Smarts Level E
  • Word parts
  • Spelling
  • Reference materials
  • Grammar
  • Writing
  1. Sentence fragments
  2. Punctuation
  3. Capitalization
  • Reading and Writing
  1. Similes and Metaphors
  2. Context clues
  3. Genres
  4. Reading comprehension
  5. Poems
  • The Writing Process
  1. Narrative
  2. Opinion
  3. Informative

Brief, but clear, instructions are given on each page.  These should suffice unless your child is struggling.  Hopefully, you can guide them through any further instructional needs.  No parental preparation is necessary for this open and go workbook.  WooHoo!

After the lessons, there are often some crossword puzzles, or riddles like these.

Using Language Smarts daily and completing two pages at a time will complete the book in a school year.  We used it several days each week due to co-op and appointments.  Since we school about 210 days/year (rather than the typical 180), this would still work very well with our schedule.

The Language Smarts Level E workbook is so incredibly thorough, it's an inch thick.  That does make it difficult to write near the spine of the book.  Xav actually writes about two inches in from the center which limits the space he has for writing.  A spiral binding or perforated pages would be really helpful in this instance.

The copyright for the original purchaser is very lenient and allows for a classroom or family to make copies of all the pages.  I'm pretty tempted, though, to purchase a book for each of the boys to use individually.  In part, because it's a great product and because it would be easier than copying for each boy and having to keep track of loose pages!  On the other hand, black and white copies would probably be less expensive.  You have to decide for your family whether thrift or convenience is more important.  If you want to use the Language Smarts workbook for multiple children, though, it might actually be better to purchase the ebook and print only the pages you need, when you need them.

We'll be continuing to use Language Smarts Level E.  The bigger littles haven't covered a ton of grammar and writing to this point, because I've been so focused on the math aspect.  I can no longer put it on the back burner and this workbook has been a life saver!   I can even see getting these for Merrick when he is ready for first grade.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention some really great software downloads from The Critical Thinking Co.™ also.  Their Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic Before Kindergarten!  program contains the same software that some other Crew members are reviewing (plus Smart Abacus).
Alphabet Song Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download
Grades: Toddler-1 | New Version 2.0
Letter Sounds Song and Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download
Grades: Prek-1
Vowel Sounds Song and Game™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download
Grades: Prek-2
Fun-Time Phonics!™ Software - 2-PCs Win Download
Grades: Prek-2

Read the post about the importance of preschool academics.  And as a happy surprise, the Alphabet Song Game Software is FREE for a limited time.  If you have a little one in those early years, go check it out!
Please click the graphic below to go to the Homeschool Crew blog and check out some of the software available to your young child.  The Crew also has reviews for Sentence Diagramming: Beginning for grades: 3-12+.

Find The Critical Thinking Co.™ on social media.

Language Arts {The Critical Thinking Co.™}

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