The Skill Sharpeners: Critical Thinking series has reproducible, full-color workbooks for pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. Many of the activities require critical thinking, and most of them also provide reinforcement and activities for math, language arts, social studies, and science. In addition, some activities ask children to express their opinions and creativity.
The thinking skills gradually become more challenging. For example, pre-kindergartners and kindergartners begin with observation, identification, classification, comparison, and simple analysis. First graders apply skills in observation, categorization, simple logic, and puzzle solving. By sixth grade, students are using analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
Each book has more than 130 pages, arranged into four units. Each unit has two topics. For example, Grade 1’s four units are on Animals, Plants, Transportation, and Places. Under Animals, the two topics are “Cats and Dogs” and “Giraffes and Elephants,” while the two topics under Places are “The Playground and the Beach” and “Home and School.” There are 11 to 15 lesson pages for each topic, and these pages fall into one of four categories.
- Read All About It: the first page of each lesson has information to be read to (or by) students, and students will need this information to answer questions on some of the other pages.
- Tell What You Know: one or more pages have questions and activities for children to answer in relation to the Read All About It article. Sometimes they are asked to express an opinion.
- Critical Thinking Activities: one or more pages have children apply critical thinking skills with subject matter related to the lesson topic. Lessons have more of these pages than the other three types. No two pages are the same, but among frequently used formats are pages with questions, puzzles, code-solving, charts to complete or analyze, word problems, Venn diagrams, wordplay, and dot-to-dots. Language arts, social studies, and science might be involved in any of the lesson pages, but math shows up only on the Critical Thinking Activities pages.
- Art Projects and Hands-on Activities: these are generally simple activities that involve drawing, cutting, folding, pasting, and coloring.
Students who can read independently can complete most activities on their own, while younger students will need assistance. Answer keys are at the back of each book, so each book is self-contained.
The books in the Skill Sharpeners: Critical Thinking series serve as inexpensive supplements that can be used whenever you wish. Many students will appreciate the variety they offer.