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Monday, June 21, 2010

Balance Benders by The Critical Thinking Co.

My oldest son (6 yrs. old) loves mind benders and critical reasoning problems and games. Though usually practiced in the context of real world, 3-D applications, he also has an uncanny knack for figuring out 2-dimensional workbook-style challenges. He is thoughtful and deliberate in his work and likes to use multiple strategies to solve a given problem.

When I first learned of Balance Benders from The Critical Thinking Co., I thought it was something that he could really get into and something that would be a great adjunct activity to what he will be learning in school over the next few years. Although he attends school outside of the home (kindergarten last year and 1st grade next year), we have always added our own informal homeschooling activities with the kids from very early on. I strongly support functional learning in a hands-on, real-world setting; however, these particular puzzles pull on his fondness for math and logic problems and are useful in preparing him for some of the pen-and-paper expectations of traditional schooling.

We received Balance Benders Beginning Level: Logic and Algebraic Reasoning Puzzles to test and review. They are designed for Grades 2-6 (Jaden just completed kindergarten), but he did surprisingly well with the earlier puzzles in the book and I can definitely see us continuing to use this workbook in the future. The puzzles are designed around a balance scale and require the use of deductive reasoning, logic, and algebraic skills to correctly answer questions involving pictoral representations. The book includes 10 Balance Tips, as well as all solutions, including the mathematical principal that each problem addresses. These puzzles are meant to be fun, educational, and functional by preparing students for standardized tests with which they will eventually come in contact.

These workbooks can be purchased for only $9.99 per level and range from Beginner to Level 3. You can check out some other great learning puzzles from The Critical Thinking Company HERE. They also offers some great FREE printables for use with a variety of age ranges.

(Disclosure: I received a Balance Benders book, free of charge, from The Critical Thinking Co., for the purposes of this review. No monetary compensation was received in exchange for this review. All opinions are honest and based on my own experiences and those of my son.)


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