Monday, March 30, 2015

U.S. History Detective ~ The Critical Thinking Co.

As a homeschooler, I have always found it difficult to find history curriculums that fit my teaching style and method. I was really excited when The Critical Thinking Co. contacted me to review, U.S. History Detectives ~ Colonial Era to Reconstruction Era (Book One). This particular book is for grades 8-12. U.S. History Detectives is considered a complete curriculum but can also be used to supplement your existing curriculum. 

The mission of the Critical Thinking Co. 

The Critical Thinking committed to developing students' critical thinking skills for better grades, higher test scores, and success in life. We do not teach through drill and memorization or teach to the tests - we empower the mind!

When I received the book, I scanned though the pages and immediately loved what I saw. 

Maps, timelines, and pictures throughout the book give the reader visual understanding.

Each lesson includes two or three pages of reading, followed by fill in the blank, multiple choice, and written response questions. For the multiple choice questions, the student is asked to give the sentence in the reading that best supports the answer given. Students must draw inferences and conclusions based on their evaluation of the evidence. They must sort through what is fact verses opinion. By drawing on information in each reading, students will then use evidence to support conclusions in their short essay writing.

Each lesson also includes a Fun Fact Feature and a Fun Fact Finale Examples are:

Fun Fact Feature
The presidential mansion in Washington, D.C. acquired a new nickname after the British burned it during the War of 1812. What do we call this home today?

Fun Fact Finale
The presidential mansion in Washington, D.C. was painted blue before the War of 1812. The shell of the building remained after the British set it on fire during the war. In their haste to repair its smoke damage, American workers used what was easily available - whitewash. The building has been repainted white ever since and is known as the White House. 

There are eight sections and sixty-five lessons in the book that cover the Colonial Era through the Reconstruction. To give you a better idea of the material that is covered, here is a list of the sections:
  • The Colonial Era
  • The Revolutionary Era
  • The Federal Era
  • The Nationalism Era
  • The Reform Era
  • The Expansion Era
  • The Sectional Conflict Era
  • The Civil War Era
  • The Reconstruction Era

Who used it
My 8th grader is an avid reader and absolutely loves history. When approaching the subject of history, I tend to use a classical approach, utilizing books and good literature, verses the typical textbook approach. My son is in the process of working through The Critical Thinking Co., World History Detectives Book 1, and is really enjoying it. The information he is gleaning from this curriculum is the perfect complement to his stack of history books currently being used for history. He was eager to start working through, U.S. History Detective. The time period, Colonial through the Reconstruction, is one of his favorite periods of history to study.

My son really enjoys the lessons and frequently comes to tell me about things he has read. This opens the opportunity for some great discussions. I encourage my son to highlight and take notes in the margins of the book. He has learned a great deal of information from the readings. Applying he prior knowledge along with the newly acquired information, he is easily able to complete the "work" part of each lesson. 

My son said,

"I guess learning history from a textbook does not always have to be downright boring. This is pretty good." 

My thoughts
I would highly recommend this book to fellow homeschoolers and educators. Not only will your child learn history but they will develop great critical thinking skills in the process. Anytime you can "kill two birds with one stone", that is a plus in my book. The lessons are well written and chock-full of historical information without fluff. If you have been searching for a comprehensive history curriculum, look no further. I will continue to use other materials by The Critical Thinking Co..

A great offer from The Critical Thinking Company.

15% Off Any Size Order!
Details: Offer expires 5/31/2015 at Midnight PST. Use Coupon Code BLOGR315. Online prepaid orders only. Valid one per customer. Offer does not apply to iOS or Android apps, or manipulatives such as Attribute Blocks, Interlocking Cubes or Pattern Blocks. Offer may not be combined with other discounts or offers, and is not retroactive. Not valid on wholesale orders.

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