Mar 152012

Early in our homeschool days, we were introduced to the idea of classical education. My husband and I were immediately hooked on the concept. We started our oldest son learning Latin in the 2nd grade.

As time progressed, we continued on the classical education path, though in a more relaxed manner than we had originally envisioned. We’ve continued with Latin studies for our older 2 children, and in middle school, we introduced the topic of logic.

I received The Art of Argument from Classical Academic Press to review. This book is an introduction to the informal fallacies. My older daughter is in the 6th grade, which is an ideal age to begin this study, though it is suitable for older students as well.

Art of ArgumentThe Art of Argument divides the fallacies up into 3 Units: Presumption, Relevance, and Clarity. Within these units a total of 28 fallacies are discussed. Each fallacy is introduced with its definition. This is followed by examples and questions for the students to answer. Each chapter also includes a discussion between Socrates, Nate, and Tiffany. These discussions are great helps in understanding the concepts.

The soft covered text and teacher’s edition include many helpful illustrations. The teacher’s edition is the full student text with the answers filled in, rather than just an answer key. There are also DVD’s of the lessons available.

My daughter has been enjoying this course so far. She’s worked through the introduction and the first several fallacies. Like just about everything else, she’s working independently on this study. Because of this, I expected her to really appreciate the DVD’s. However, she didn’t find that they added much over the book and prefers just reading. I think the DVD’s are very well done with both lessons and discussions with students.

Actually, I think my daughter’s feeling that she doesn’t need the DVD’s is high praise for the text itself. It’s very clearly written and has made the subject both interesting and easy to understand. It is also humorous at times. This is a definitely an item she will continue using! I plan to have my older son read through the text as well. He completed a much shorter study of informal fallacies a couple of years ago, but I think that reading through this course will help refresh his memory on what he learned, as well as go into more depth on  some of the fallacies.

These materials can be purchased from Classical Academic Press for the following prices:

  • Text – $21.95
  • Teacher’s Edition – $24.95
  • DVD set – $54.95
  • Bundle including all of the above – $88.95


Disclosure: I received The Art of Argument text, teacher edition, and sample DVD to review as a member of the Homeschool Crew. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Dec 272008

Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to review a lot of homeschooling products this school year as a member of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. Many of the products are from new companies just trying to break into the homeschooling market.  The Critical Thinking Company is not one of those new companies. They have been specializing in products to improve children’s thinking skills for 50 years. I received Building Thinking Skills Level 2 for grades 4-6 to review. The objective of this program is best quoted from their website.

Building Thinking Skills® provides highly effective verbal and nonverbal reasoning activities to improve vocabulary, reading, writing, math, logic, and figural-spatial skills, as well as visual and auditory processing. This exceptional skill set provides a solid foundation for academic excellence and success on any assessment test.

This is a 408 page book including 1378 activities! The book is divided into 2 main sections: a figural (dealing with shapes) section and a verbal section. For each figural section there is a corresponding verbal section. For example, chapter 1 is Describing Shapes while Chapter 6, the corresponding verbal chapter, is Describing Things. You can use this book sequentially, first doing all the figural topics, then moving on to the verbal topics, or you can alternate: first completing the figural chapter, and skipping to the corresponding verbal chapter for each topic. The topics include:

  1. Describing
  2. Similarities and Differences
  3. Sequences
  4. Classifications
  5. Analogies

The complete table of contents can be found here on the Critical Thinking website.

View sample pages.

As you can see, the worksheets have instructions, a sample problem, and a few practice problems for each concept. They are black and white without unnecessary graphics. The text starts off with very simple concepts but using small, sequential steps, builds to more complex problems.

I think this is an outstanding product. I really love the figural section. It has lots of fun spatial problems doing things like picturing where holes on pages would be when it’s folded and other things like that. (I was an engineer so I like doing these kind of things for fun.)  I can see how working through this text would greatly improve a child’s ability to solve problems. Another great aspect of this product is that it is reproducible within your home.  So, I can legally make copies and reuse the text for my younger children. That is a big plus for me. (I should note that not all the levels are reproducible.) Also, this program costs only $29.99, an extremely reasonable price for the size of this book.

If your child struggles with higher order thinking and making connections between seemingly disconnected facts, then this is the program for you.  If your child is way ahead of the curve in terms of analytical reasoning and logical thinking, then this may be a good supplement to enhance his critical thinking skills and potentially improve his test scores.  You should remember, you are not obligated to assign all 1378 activities in this book (or all the activities in any book, for that matter).  When you purchase this curriculum, make sure your child enjoys the activities, and within reason let him work at his own pace.  Integrate this book with your Math and English curricula where possible so you are not simply adding yet another new subject to your already full plate.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Building Thinking Skills in order to complete this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.