Review: Hands-On Thinking Skills Curriculum

Hands-On Thinking Skills Review

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We have been enjoying curriculum from The Critical Thinking Company for a few years now. They are well-known in homeschooling circles for a reason! The company has been around since 1958, and produces a wide selection of award-winning books and software for education. Their products are all about laying the foundation of creative thinking skills and solid reasoning.

In our home, we have been working through the Building Thinking Skills series (a Cathy Duffy top pick), some of the Mind Benders books, and now the Hands-On Thinking Skills curriculum. Each book has provided different ways for the kids to grow in their skills. For example, the Building Thinking Skills series involves more written work based on visual problems.

Like the other resources from The Critical Thinking Company, Hands-On Thinking Skills helps kids to make connections, recognize patters, anticipate outcomes, and analyze the information to make reasoned conclusions on their own. The goal is to provide essential skills such as spatial, verbal, motor, visual, and analytical thinking skills that are so important for a variety of academic subjects.

How We Used Hands-On Thinking Skills

The Hands-On Thinking Skills book provides problems similar to those in the Building Thinking Skills series, but the students interact with the concepts by using manipulatives. It is a great way to teach these essentials to kids who are kinesthetic learners or are a bit too young to do too much written work. As the lessons progress, the challenge increases and yet the kids don’t become disheartened. They are able to build on what they’ve learned for each subsequent lesson.

For each lesson, I tore out the perforated pages and set out the manipulatives we needed for the curriculum: pattern blocks, attribute blocks, and interlocking cubes. I gave each of my three older kids their own sheets to work on by manipulative type and they would rotate until everyone completed each exercise. As we progressed through the book, I would work backwards with my younger ones so they weren’t defeated by problems too difficult for them.

Some Things to Note

  • Teacher Interaction. For most children, this is a teacher-guided curriculum and not independent. My oldest (1st grade) was still able to do most of it on his own, however.
  • Types of Problems. There are a variety of problem types to solve, such as completing sequences, identifying patterns, and copying shapes.
  • Acquiring Manipulatives. If you’re not sure you want to buy the pattern blocks and attribute blocks, I suggest using the book sheets as templates and create your own sets with colored construction paper. It won’t have the same tactile feel and ease of use, but it can work! Personally, I was glad to make those purchases, and there’s a good substitute for the interlocking cubes.
  • It’s Fun! The kids really enjoy these activities. The challenge combined with the fun of hands-on problem solving is really exciting to them. It’s a win for me, too!

Learn More About The Critical Thinking Company

Product Details:
Hands-On Thinking Skills is a paperback book that is currently available for $23.99. It is designed for grades K-1, although my pre-K student was also able to do a good portion of it. Check it out first by viewing the sample pages available on their site.

Here are the manipulatives you’ll need, sold separately:

Connect with The Critical Thinking Company:

Win Hands-On Thinking Skills!

Enter through Friday the 5th! Giveaway ends midnight, September 6th. Winner has 48 hours to claim prize.

(This giveaway is over. Congrats to Carrie W. for winning the curriculum!)

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