Thursday, April 1, 2010

Critical Thinking Company: Balance Benders Workbook

Sometimes the "logic" of my children completely confounds me.   They make it very apparent that they need help developing their thinking skills.  Thankfully, The Critical Thinking Co. is around to provide lots of fun ways to do just that.  They're a well-established, award-winning company that seeks to empower the minds of our children.

Last year, we reviewed Mathematical Reasoning by The Critical Thinking Co, and were very impressed.  We actually switched our  boys to Mathematical Reasoning from their previous math curriculum.  This year, we were blessed to be able to review another one of their products -- Balance Benders, the beginning level. 

Balance Benders: Beginning is designed for students in grade 2-6, and it contains logic and algebraic reasoning puzzles.  Each puzzle in the book helps students develop their deductive reasoning and begin to learn about algebraic properties.  At the top of the page, there is a visual balance statement, which is used to find the 3 answers which are always true amongst six choices.  I know that it's difficult to visualize, but you can see a sample page HERE.

When I first received this, it took me awhile to figure out how to solve the logic puzzles.  Once I realized how they worked, I sat down with my 9 year-old, 3rd grade son.  I wasn't sure how quickly he would figure them out, or if I'd have to walk him through each one.  But he did figure it out very fast, and didn't mind working through the logic puzzles with me.  We treated it as a game, more than a math or critical thinking lesson. 

I later took the workbook with me to our homeschool group, which divides the children up into three different age groups.  I shared the book with the 2nd - 5th graders, as well as the 6th -9th graders.  We all huddled around the book as I explained to them how the puzzles worked.  I wasn't sure how well they'd enjoy the puzzles, but they loved them.  They worked together, reasoning out the clues to find the 3 solutions that were always true for that balance puzzle.  It was a great way to fill time at the end of each session, until we were ready for the next rotation.

The Balance Benders: Beginning workbook is a paperback 8.5 x 11 inch book with 48 pages.  The book begins with a 1 page introduction that explains how to use the balance puzzles with your students.  Balance Benders contains 40 balance puzzles, followed by a 2 page explanation of the algebraic properties taught by the puzzles.  The answer key is included at the back of the book. 

Balance Benders: Beginning
can be bought for $9.99, and includes a reproducible license for use within one home or classroom.  Although we solved the puzzles orally, the reproducible license means you can copy the pages so your students can work on them alone, and you can use it again for your younger children.  The broad age range also allows you to work through the book with several children who are close in age.  

We found the Balance Bender puzzles to be a fun way to develop our logical thinking skills, as well as help build mathematical reasoning skills.  The workbook is affordable, and with its reproducible license it is completely reusable rather than consumable.  We recommend Balance Benders!

This item was provided free for our review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew.  We received no other compensation, and this review is our honest opinion.  Click the TOS Homeschool Crew banner at the top to read more reviews on this product by other Homeschool Crew members.

Trusting In Him,

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