I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Building Thinking Skills, Level 2 Review and Giveaway

Humor me for a moment...If you were trapped on a desert island with all your kids and could only have one school resource/book besides the Bible what would you choose?  Tough one, I know.  But, assuming that all my children have learned to read, I would MOST DEFINITELY bring some kind of logic building resource.  

By taking a sneak peek at our curriculum list for the year, you will probably notice that each of my school-aged Littles have "Logic Skills" listed as a weekly subject. You'll also probably notice that they are all working through a Critical Thinking Co. book...but we'll get to that...

Kid's are sponges.  Give your child information and he/she will, inevitably, be able to regurgitate it to you.  Tell him that 1+1 = 2 and he will eventually be able to parrot that information back.  But, does that mean that he is smart?  Or does it just means he's a good parrot?  So much of "school" is the giving and taking of information.  But that is not necessarily imparting useful knowledge.  Knowledge is only useful when a child is able to take facts and information and apply it to their own personal lives and situations...  
when 1+1 = 2 can be USED and APPLIED not just repeated in a monotone voice.  

I'm a firm believer in teaching a child HOW to think not WHAT to think. Don't just fill a child's head with information without ALSO giving him the critical analysis tools...cognitive skills...reasoning ability...logical assessment prowess to DO SOMETHING with that information.  

My children will not be under my tutelage forever.  I'd like to give them the discernment skills necessary to THINK whether I am standing next to them or not.  Logic and reasoning are essential requirements for a lifelong love of learning...which should be a primary goal of all homeschoolers.  

The Unlikely Homeschool-Building Thinking Skills

Building Thinking Skills Level 2

For the past six years (since Sweetie Pea was in pre-k), I have been using various Critical Thinking Co. materials to help develop some of those analytical aptitudes. This year, Sweetie Pea is working her way through Building Thinking Skills Level 2. Designed to be used by 4th-6th grade learners in the, this dynamic, core program workbook contains chapters featuring the following skill building activities:
  • Describing Shapes
  • Figural Similarities and Differences
  • Figural Sequences
  • Figural Classifications
  • Figural Analogies
  • Describing Things
  • Verbal Similarities and Differences
  • Verbal Sequences
  • Verbal Classifications
  • Verbal Analogies
Students are given clear directions, a sample problem or two, and a handful of problems to solve.  Most pages are accompanied by a black-and-white picture or diagram to accommodate visual learners.  Each chapter begins with a Scope and Sequence-style map to help you determine which sections to complete and in what order based on your particular needs or your child's learning ability. In addition, a complete answer guide of all pages is located at the back of the book.

The Unlikely Homeschool-Building Thinking Skills

What I Like

As with my experience with Level 1, I appreciate the graduated succession of each page. Skills are repeated for several pages in a row but at a slightly more difficult level. Although you can choose to assign the first page of each chapter before going on to the second page of each chapter in order to vary the skills being practiced, I have chosen to assign a group of pages in chapter one (describing shapes) before assigning a group of pages in chapter two in order to establish mastery.

In addition, I also really like the easy layout of each reproducible page.  The directions are clear.  The sample sections are clear.  The problems are clear.  I don't need to babysit my daughter while she completes the page.  It is COMPLETELY independent work.

A busy mom can also appreciate the small amount of problems on each page. Let's face it, a child either GETS IT or they DON'T.  There's no need to beat a dead horse by assigning dozens of similar problems.  If, by chance, a skill has not been mastered by the 6th or 7th problem, there is always the opportunity to do another page.

Best of all, the book is completely reproducible for home use.  I buy it once and use it five times! Brilliant!

With this and their many other wonderful cognitive building resources, it is easy to see why Critical Thinking Co. is the #1 selling thinking skills program in the world.

The Unlikely Homeschool-Building Critical Thinking Skills

The Nitty Gritty

  • produced by Critical Thinking Co
  • paperback 
  • 416 black-and-white perforated pages 
  • completely reproducible 
  • 1374 activities 
  • retails for $29.99 

For more information be sure to visit Critical Thinking Co., check them out on Facebook, or on Twitter @criticalthinks.

Want to win one?

Now's your chance to grab YOUR CHOICE of one core book from Critical Thinking Co....FOR FREE! That's right, your choice of ANY core book. Just follow the simple instructions from Rafflecopter. There are eleven chances to register to win. Simply click on the +sign for every entry you wish to make.

No purchase necessary to win.  Must be 18 years old or older and have a US or military address to enter. A winner will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter and will be announced sometime after Friday, October 23, 2012.  The winner will be notified via email and will have 72 hours to respond.  If an email address is not provided or the winner does not respond, the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be randomly selected.  This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook. 

***Mandatory Entry:  To enter, be sure to leave a comment in the "comments" section of this post telling me what you like about the Critical Thinking books and which core book you'd like to win.  (Remember, simply leaving a comment does not ensure entry.  You also have to click the +5 after you have LEFT a comment.)

Good luck and thanks for following The Unlikely Homeschool!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was given a copy of Building Thinking Skills, Level 2 in exchange for a thorough review. All opinions expressed were true and completely my own.  I am not responsible if your experiences vary.


  1. I'm a SAHM with a toddler, so I have no experience formally homeschooling or using any of these books. :) However, I was a first grade teacher in public school for four years, and I recognize the great value in these books for when my DS is older. I'd like to win either one!

    Mrs. Erven

  2. We were wanting to incorporate this into our curriculum eventually anyway. Yeah! For now we'd probably use the primary or beginnings core. I'd love to be able to try this for free!

  3. How have I been homeschooling four children for six years now and have never heard about this company? Can't wait to try them!

  4. We are already using their Mathematical Reasoning and Language Smarts. Can't wait to try the thinking skills! (Level 1 or 2)

  5. I like Mind Benders. My kids cannot get enough of them. I would like to try Building Thinking Skills.


  6. My husband really wanted us to find a way to incorporate critical thinking into more of our homeschool. This sounds perfect! I'm thinking we would start with Level 1.

  7. I like that a skill is repeated at gradually increasing difficulty, nit just touched on and then left behind.

  8. Looks like a great book! Critical thinking is so important. Love your blog!! Michelle

  9. I have one of these and love it so I'd love to add to my library! :)

  10. I love that it can be independent work! Critical thinking skills are something we need to start working on!

  11. I have enjoyed using the Mind Benders and would definitely be interested in checking out the Thinking Skills books. Too many students today cannot put their known information together to be completely valuable to them and others around them.

  12. We are really enjoying Mathematical Reasoning, and Building Thinking Skills Beginning has been on my wish list for awhile now...so that is definitely my pick.

  13. Students are given clear directions, a sample problem or two, and a handful of problems to solve.

  14. My oldest would be the age for the Building Thinking Skills Level 2 and I have always wanted to try something from Critical Thinking Co. before...this would be a great opportunity!!

    ~Kimberly Young~

  15. These sounds like a great addition to any curriculum. If I have a fifth grader should I begin at level one or two? Thanks.

  16. Wow - these look great! I love that they're reproducible. It would be fantastic to have a critical thinking core to our homeschool curriculum. Even if I don't win, I'm glad to have found out about this resource. Thanks!

  17. Its great to be able to assist kids in one of the most valuable 'transferable skills' from the earliest years. And then to be able to pass the book on to the following siblings is an added bonus! :-) I would like to win Level 2.

  18. I have had my eye on the materials from the Critical Thinking Company for awhile now but my problem is that I want almost all of it and haven't been able to narrow it down to what we "need". Your review has helped and I know now that it would be best for us to start off with the BTS Level 1. Thanks for sharing!!

  19. I've used it with 2 kids so far and love it. I need to win one (the same one you reviewed or book 3) for my next child!

  20. Logic building is so essential! My girls are right at a level to use this incredible resource.

  21. I like the idea of more critical thinking skills. I really noticed the difficulty my kids have with it when I started using Life of Fred, so I would love to have the level 1 building thinking skills.

  22. One of the reasons I decided to homeschool my children is because I think logical thinking needs to be a core part of any curriculm.

  23. Every child needs to build critical thinking skills. I've been wanting this for a while now and hope to win! Thanks for the giveaway!

  24. I think this would be a great addition to our homeschool curriculum, because one of the great advantages homechooling has is the ability to develop real critical thinking instead of following a school board designated ideal.

  25. I've had my eye on their Editor in Chief books, just haven't had the funds. Thanks for the chance to win!

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