I am a big fan of using your brain to figure out things and not just blindly following the what everyone else is doing. So, as a homeschooling family, we strive to teach our kids valuable critical thinking skills. I'm a big fan of The Critical Thinking Co. and their amazing products. I love surfing through their catalog each time I get one in the mail! I always find neat products to use with the kids.
And here's a product I would have never thought to purchase but was so excited to try out. It's called Balance Benders. This is a series of workbooks going from second grade all the way through twelfth. Each workbook is full of grade appropriate logic and algebraic puzzles for children to work through either with an adult (if they can figure them out) or on their own.
I was a bit nervous when I received the workbook and realized we were talking Algebra here. Algebra is a subject I loved...in the higher grades! So, introducing this type of reasoning to my seven year old made me a little apprehensive that I would be able to give this a good review. True, Zoe is only "technically" finishing 1st grade, but in some areas, her brain works on a higher grade level.
So, the book came in, and when Mark was home (since he's the math whiz), we sat down and started working on the puzzles. They start out very easy to follow and have great cheat sheets and lessons to review the algebra facts. So, explaining it was a breeze. I must admit that I got stuck a couple of times and had to have Mark and Zoe explain why the problem was such and such. Yeah, that was great. Zoe had trouble wrapping her brain around a couple of concepts but Mark and I were able to work together to explain them in a different term than what the book gave and that helped her work through it. Believe it or not, when she got stuck, none of us freaked out (a very rare thing in our house). We are working very slowly through the book as she grasps concepts that are pretty advanced, even for a second grader. Not to say that a second grader could not work through the books. I firmly believe they can (I'm of the opinion that we try to dumb down too much for children and therefore they don't expect to be able to understand concepts, when in fact they do and they can if just given the opportunity. Sorry. I'm stepping off my soapbox now to get back to the review). I also believe that they would benefit more to having an adult sit down with them to work through the problems.
If you have a child who absolutely loves to write in workbooks...or enjoys puzzles (Zoe does love a good Sodoku or word find puzzle), then Balance Benders is the perfect fit. For those children who are more kinesthetic or visual, you may have to adapt the puzzles for them to understand and see them better.
Each balance bender puzzle book sells for $9.99. There are currently four books in the series. A definite good buy for children who need or want to be challenged.
Know someone who deserves to be recognized as a critical thinking hero? Check out this contest that the Critical Thinking Co. has going on right now and nominate your hero today.
The Critical Thinking Co. is also holding a video contest. Click here to get all the details and for your chance to win a year's supply of educational products!
**Disclaimer: This is a Mama Buzz review. The product was provided by The Critical Thinking Co. for this review.