Top Picks for Logic
- 2002 29 Oct
Logic is a hot subject in the home-schooling world, partly because a grasp of the rudiments of logic is vital to a good education, but also because many of the logic books on the market are actually quite fun to use.
For younger children, there are many books that each tackle different aspects of logic or critical thinking (think of this as pre-logic). Critical Thinking Books & Software seems to be the largest publisher of such books with titles that either appeal to the thinking/learning preferences of your child or that challenge and stretch their abilities in other thinking/learning modes.
Resources from Critical Thinking Books & Software
P.O. Box 448
Pacific Grove, CA
93950 (800) 458-4849
Web site: www.criticalthinking.com
The Building Thinking Skills series is probably the most basic, comprehensive resource for thinking skills at all levels. Each reproducible student book is accompanied by a teachers manual that offers a combination of lesson plans and teaching information. Lessons use student worksheets, hands-on materials (only with the Primary book), and interaction between teacher and student(s). Each lesson should take about 10 to 20 minutes to do and requires just a few minutes of teacher preparation.
The first three books in the series are written for K-6. The first book, Primary Building Thinking Skills, is suggested for grades K-2. The required hands-on materials are attribute blocks, pattern blocks, and interlocking cubes. Manipulative activities are performed with these materials before students complete the worksheet. In the 246-page Primary book, children deal with similarities and differences, sequences, classifications, and analogies. Visual-figural skills get a workout in these lessons, too.
Examples of two activities: 1) Use PATTERN BLOCKS to make figures that look like the pictures below. [Four different, complex arrangements of pattern blocks are illustrated]; 2) Use INTERLOCKING CUBES of any color to construct and cover each figure in the top box. [Seven figures are pictured.] Move all 1-cube figures into the first small box and all 2-cube figures into the second. Trace the figures and color the pictures to match the cubes.
Children who are already reading fairly well should probably move into the next level, Book 1. Book 1 (271 pages), suggested for grades 2-4, uses interlocking cubes for some lessons and broadens activities beyond the primarily visual-figural approach of the Primary book. Children work on the same skills as in the Primary book but add discussion of five types of analogies, following directions, antonyms and synonyms, deductive reasoning, parts of a whole, map skills and directionality, logical connectives, spelling and vocabulary building, Venn diagrams, pattern folding, rotation, tracking, mental manipulation of two-dimensional objects, and more.
Book 2 (296 pages), suggested for grades 4-7, does all of the above, expands to seven different types of analogies, and adds branching diagrams, overlapping classes, and more. The idea of implications is also introduced. Activities vary in difficulty, so select those that seem most appropriate for each child.
Building Thinking Skills student books are $23.95-$25.95 each, while teachers manuals range in price from $14.95 to $18.95.
Mind Benders Series
The Mind Benders series consists of sets of smaller (28-30 pages) books. Each book is self-contained with brief teaching information and an answer key in the front or back of the book. Children organize clues (some direct and some indirect) in grids (except in introductory lessons in lowest levels) to derive logical conclusions.
For example, in a very introductory lesson, students are told, Edmund, Ida, Joanne, and Tony are two sets of twins. Tony is a month younger than Edmund. Joanne is a month older than Ida. Students must then answer two questions, Which pair is the younger set of twins? and Which pair is the older set of twins? The Warm-Up book is for grades K-2. For grades 2-6, there is a series of books, A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-4. Some older students will be ready to move up to the second series, B-1 through B-4, suggested for grades 6-10. These activities appeal to children, because they are like detective work as students try to match clues with identities.
Mind Benders are $8.95 each. The Instructions/Solutions book covering all of them is $10.95.
Books such as Building Thinking Skills and Mind Benders are available from teacher supply stores and home-school distributors. CTB&S also publishes books that help develop thinking skills within various subject areas such as math, language arts, science, and U.S. history.
(Reviews of Developing Critical Thinking through Science, Mathematical Reasoning through Verbal Analysis, and Cranium Crackers can be found in the Christian Home Educators Curriculum Manual: Elementary Grades.) You can send for the CTB&S catalog or check out their Web site to determine which resources best suit your needs. (Note: This is a non-sectarian publisher, so you might find occasional, minor content problems.)
If you want to know more about teaching logic and available resources, check out reviews in Christian Home Educators Curriculum Manuals (two volumes: Elementary Grades and Junior/Senior High) or investigate the articles, reviews and helps at http://www.christianlogic.com, a site recently created by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn.
Part II of this article will highlight articles specifically for teens.
Cathy Duffy is the author of Christian Home Educators Curriculum Manuals (two volumes: Elementary Grades and Junior/Senior High), Government Nannies, and numerous articles on curriculum and education issues. She home educated her three sons, graduating the last one in 1997. Information about her books can be found at www.grovepublishing.com.
Copyright 2001 Cathy Duffy