Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Solve Mysteries While Building Vocabulary {Review + COUPON CODE!}

If you're looking to expand your children's vocabulary while challenging them to think critically, take a look at the Critical Thinking Detective - Vocabulary Book 2 by The Critical Thinking Co.

And, while you are at it, if there is anything else you see at that you like, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to find a coupon code that you can use until the end of the year on any order for a discount and free shipping!

What Is the Critical Thinking Detective - Vocabulary Book 2?

Critical Thinking Detective - Vocabulary Book 2 is a 38-page, softcover with perforated, reproducible pages that can be used by a single home or class - which makes it economical and handy for large homeschooling families and co-op classes!

In the book, are 12 detective cases and their solutions.

Each case begins with a description of a mystery followed by four statements from suspects. Within the text of the mystery and statements are 18-24 vocabulary words that are pivotal to solving the case correctly.

These vocabulary words are typically "$10 words" which have been gathered from a multitude of sources, including SAT/ACT word lists.

After students figure out what the words mean, they can then put their reading comprehension, analysis, deductive reasoning, and inductive reasoning skills to work in order to figure out the cases.

Then, students can move on to a second activity, which is basically a fill-in-the-blank page that encourages students to use targeted vocabulary in a new context. Some of the blanks on this page can correctly be answered by more than one target word, 
which highlights flexibility of language through synonyms.

Do You Need Anything Else?

The Critical Thinking Detective - Vocabulary Book 2 is designed for independent use for children in grades 5-12+ and can be used as an open-and-go, paper-and-pencil supplement for building vocabulary and critical thinking skills.

Due to the vocabulary used in each detective case, if students use the resource independently, I would definitely say a good dictionary or thesaurus would be needed.  

In our family, though, we used the resource a bit differently.

Instead of using it independently as a paper-and-pencil resource, we decided to use it for Mom-and-us studies. Doing it this way, we did not need to crack open a dictionary nor a thesaurus. (Not that doing so would be bad. We just wanted to streamline materials and highlight discussion.)

Our Family Approach

Using this resource as a family study, to start a case, one of us - typically me - would read it aloud along with the suspect statements.  Then, we'd discuss what each unfamiliar word might mean, having everyone make guesses based on prior knowledge, context, word roots, word use, etc, before I would consult the answer key to give a synonym to help the kids see if the meanings they had guessed were correct.

Once we had the vocabulary figured out, we would reread parts of the case, and each of us would conjecture about which suspect was at fault and why we thought so. Then, we'd check our answers.

After that, we would typically do the second exercise aloud as well, although, sometimes, I would take advantage of the generous reproducible permissions and have my oldest complete a photocopied sheet.

This approach allowed us all to enjoy building vocabulary and using our noggins for critical thinking without being impeded by things that sometimes cause learning to drag here - troubles with dyslexia, balking about having to write, etc. 
It worked well for us, and we'd recommend our approach to others who want to use this resource without worrying about writing or reading issues.  

Also, of course, we'd recommend the resource to others who like independent work and want to enjoy puzzles and improving vocabulary.

What We Thought

My 13-year-old said:

This book was interesting, because it taught me new vocabulary while also helping me augment my critical thinking skills. The vocabulary is definitely the harder part of the cases. The cases themselves were slightly too easy in my opinion. It was the vocabulary that made them challenging.
I would recommend this resource to those who need to expand and not be bored out of their minds doing so.

My 8-year-old said:

I like this book because of the way they do critical thinking with robbers and other criminals that they have pictures of.  I like the pictures because you can read the case and, then, see what they look like. The vocabulary is advanced. We had to look them up. I would not recommend this book to other kids my age unless they have amazing vocabulary or get help like me. I would recommend it to older kids.


My 11-year old said:
This book is fun to do with my siblings and my mom. The cases are hard just because of the vocabulary, but, once you know the vocabulary, they are fairly simple. 
I like to solve the cases together, so we can see which of us is right and wrong. 

I would recommend this to kids my age who like critical thinking but are lacking in vocabulary, because this resource makes it not so boring to learn vocabulary.

Overall, I thought that the mysteries were fun, but not too challenging.  In fact, once my children had worked through the vocabulary for each case, they typically solved it in short order.

The way the cases were written, of course, were a bit stilted - with so many $10 words so close together, but this worked for purpose of the puzzles and also opened the door for me to talk to my children about how, typically, a $10 word here and there can be powerful, but only in a special case like this resource, would an author want to string so many of them together so closely.  For, while active adjectives, vivid verbs, precise nouns, etc. all make for interesting writing, too many uncommon words in one piece can make it inaccessible, 
sesquipedalian, and unenjoyable.

That said, the author of 
Critical Thinking Detective - Vocabulary Book 2 did a fine job choosing vocabulary to make the detective cases work.

In our family of book and audiobook lovers, we found some vocabulary was already familiar to us while other words serendipitously came up, prompting us to comment, "Hey, that is the same word that was in the case the other day!" 

This drove home for us the fact that the author of 
 Critical Thinking Detective - Vocabulary Book 2 did not just choose any old obscure words to focus upon, but, rather, selected ones that students may actually run into in regular life and study. 

Learn More

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If you're thinking of stocking up on helpful resources, now is the time.  Through 12/31/2019, use the coupon code TOSCREW19 for 15% off any order, plus free shipping.

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