Monday, June 4, 2018

The Critical Thinking Co.™ Understanding Pre-Algebra Review

My family had the privilege of trying Understanding Pre-Algebra from The Critical Thinking Co.™ for this review to use in conjunction with our own homeschool curriculum. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

The Critical Thinking Co. ™ has award winning products that help students of all abilities achieve higher academic results with lessons that develop and sharpen their critical thinking skills. They have fun and easy to use products with lessons in standards-based reading, writing, mathematics, science, and history that are guaranteed to produce better grades and higher test scores. Critical thinking is: identifying, analyzing, defining, evaluating, examining, reasoning, questioning, and challenging evidence to guide decision making and problem solving in a manner which is clear, rational, and open minded. A good acronym for the main keys of Critical Thinking are to think RED: Recognize Assumptions, Evaluate Information, Draw Conclusions.

Understanding Pre-Algebra by Terri Husted is a full mathematics curriculum intended for grades 6-8. This pre-algebra workbook teaches critical thinking skills and concepts that are prerequisites for Algebra 1. It stresses practice of these before moving onto the next concept. It is a physical softcover student workbook and textbook in one with 15 chapters and 448 perforated pages so you can tear them out cleanly, if needed. The charts, pictures, diagrams, graphs, etc. are in color for better representation. There is an introduction about the book before the lessons and a final examination, glossary, reference sheet, table of square roots 1-120, and answer key in the back of the book. This book has a reproducible license agreement. For a typical school year you would need your student to do about 2 pages per school day to get through it.

Chapters in the Book:
  1. Family of Numbers
  2. Working With Integers
  3. Working With Rational Numbers
  4. Ratio, Proportion, and Percent
  5. Percent Applications
  6. Algebraic Expressions
  7. Equations and Solving Word Problems
  8. Inequalities and Applications
  9. Understanding Square Roots and Irrational Numbers
  10. Two Dimensional Geometry
  11. Understanding Volume and Surface Area
  12. Graphing on the Coordinate Plane
  13. Transformations and Congruency
  14. Understanding Functions
  15. Probability and Statistics

Teela working out of the Understanding Pre-Algebra workbook.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:
We have used some of The Critical Thinking Co.™ books before and we love them so when asked to review Understanding Pre-Algebra we jumped at the chance. I used the Understanding Pre-Algebra math workbook with my daughter Teela, who is in 4th grade and is 10 years old. She is advanced in math so I thought this book would be a great introduction to Algebra for her. For this review we worked through the book and did approximately six pages a week starting from the very beginning of the book.

Teela didn't really want to do math at first because this is supposed to be her summer vacation and we rarely do standards-based workbooks during the summer break, but I finally talked her into it. It was still very difficult with all the distractions of nice weather to get her to focus and stay on target. I think this will be best when it is worked on in an actual school year time frame.

Since this is a brand new publication from The Critical Thinking Co.™ there is always a chance to find errors in the text. I had tore out the answers in the back of the book, but let my daughter check her work when she was done with a lesson. She found that in the Chapter 1 review the answer to number seven was incorrect in the back of the book. The second 169 should read 225. Hopefully this is fixed in the later publications so that parents are not incorrectly making their children wrong. I haven't found any other errors so far, but that doesn't mean there isn't any.

I liked how this text/work book was set up. Each lesson first has instruction of the concepts, math vocabulary, critical thinking, and plenty of examples for learning how to actually do the practice problems that comprise the rest of the lesson. There are highlighted sections in the lessons in different colors that indicate math rules that the student really needs to know. There are also pictures, charts, and graphics that are in color so that emphasis of the concept gets internalized. In the back of the book are the final examination, glossary, reference sheet, table of square roots 1-120 and answers. The glossary has key words and vocabulary that were taught and their definitions. These would have been helpful to also include page numbers to where these concepts were taught. The reference sheet has a list of formulas that one needs to know like: Perimeter of Polygons, Circumference of Circles, Area, Volume, Surface Area, etc. The Table of Square Roots is also great to have. I do wish that the answer key in the back of the book had the problems being solved from start to finish instead of just the answers.

There are some great mnemonic devices in this book to help remember these concepts and master them. We especially liked the cowboy story that teaches rules for multiplying and dividing positive and negative integers. I had never been taught that one and the rules became so clear after learning it.

The Critical Thinking Co.™ Understanding Pre-Algebra is a great complete Pre-Algebra curriculum for grades 6-8 or earlier, if your student is advanced like mine. I liked how if we mastered a concept we could move on or skip around if we wanted to. You can also use this book as a supplement with another subject or if needed to make sure your student masters the concepts better before moving onto later math courses.

I am really glad we got this to help Teela out with learning Pre-Algebra. In my opinion the Understanding Pre-Algebra workbook has made it a lot easier for her to learn this math and for me to get much needed review of Pre-Algebra myself. Since math is not a strong subject of mine I am glad that this book has helped me understand better to assist in teaching my daughter and seems like a much simpler way to learn than I remember being taught in school. I highly recommend this to any homeschooler that is trying to learn Pre-Algebra or as a supplement to public school math or other subject.

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You can purchase the Understanding Pre-Algebra book for $42.99, as of this post. You can choose a physical paperback book or eBook.

Read other homeschool curriculum reviews for The Critical Thinking Co.™...
Critical Thinking, Understanding Math & Vocabulary {The Critical Thinking Co.™ Reviews}

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