Friday, April 20, 2012

Crypto Mind Benders - The Critical Thinking Co.

Homepage - The Critical Thinking Company

I have always been intrigued by the books offered by The Critical Thinking Co.  I really want our boys to be critical thinkers, especially as we're heading into SAT country in the next couple years.  I want them to be able to gather information and answers by deductive reasoning.  I think critical thinking activities are the way to do this.  As a matter of fact I wrote a blog post a few years ago about incorporating critical thinking activities into our routine.  So, I was thrilled to find out that the Homeschool crew would be reviewing an item from The Critical Thinking Co.!  As I said, I'm intrigued by what they have to offer, but I never knew where to start.  Since our review was limited to certain products, the guess work was done for me.  I received a copy of Crypto Mind Benders-Famous Quotations to review for you today.
So, first terrific thing about this book is that the copyright license inside the front cover allows me to copy the pages of the book "within one home or one classrom...each year."  So I can copy a page for each boy!  Yippee!

Well the day I received the book, I made THREE copies of the first exercise and distributed them over the dinner table.  I gave very minimal instructions and pencils to the Big Dog, Big Mac and T-Bone.  Both boys dove into the activity and began to crack the code right away.  The Big Dog needed more instruction, and a little guidance from his 15 and 13 year-old boys.  He said, "I don't get it."  ..A lot.  But eventually he understood.  The boys finished theirs first, of course.

Crypto Mind Benders®: Famous QuotationsSince that first night, I just give the boys a page to do in between lessons during the week. When I handed them their sheets the other day, they boy cheered.  They literally cheered!  They love these activities.  But what boy doesn't love a little sleuthing.  Solving these quotes and codes is sleuthing to a boy. Crypto Mind Benders require you to follow some hints and clues in order to figure out what letters are represented by numbers.  You have to use the process of elimination to figure out some of the letter/number combinations.  Once you've figured out which numbers represent each letter, there is a quotation at the bottom of the page written in code.  You use the code you've cracked to figure out the quotation.  And they are good quotations.  The boys commented the other day that they seem to be getting a little more challenging the further we go into the book, but they're not complaining.  Want to see a sample?  click here to get to the page for this book.  THEN click on the red line that says "click to look inside"  You will see a two-page sample of a crypto mind bender and you can print it and try it for yourself.

The only real beef I have with the book is that it says this is for grades 3-12+.  There is no way our guys could have done these activities in 3rd grade.  I think I could have introduced Crypto Mind Benders to the boys in the upper-elementary years (maybe 5th or 6th grade), but certainly not 3rd grade.

The book I received is $10.99 from The Critical Thinking Co.  But they have a lot of resources for varying ages and abilities.  You can find contact information for this company here.

As always, I am part of a crew of reviewers who got to play with different resources from The Critical Thinking Co.  Check out their reviews here.  And check into The Critical Thinking Co.  I really think critical thinking is an important skill for everyone, no matter where they are bound.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Crypto Mind Benders from The Critical Thinking Co. in order to complete this review.  The opinions offered here are my own and not influenced by the complimentary workbook I received.

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