Thursday, April 30, 2015

You Can Be a U.S. History Detective, Too! [a book review]

I was given the opportunity to use and review the U.S. History Detective, Book One, by The Critical Thinking Co. My children all studied U.S. History this year, so I was thrilled to be given the chance to try one of their books. My oldest child was given this one since it is written for students in grades 8-12+.

The curriculum we chose for U.S. History this year was very thorough, I'm sure, but my daughter found it very dry and boring. The reading was lengthy and she found she was not retaining much. Then she started using the U.S. History Detective book. She was much more excited about the shorter length of the lessons, the way the pages are laid out (I have a real personal struggle with curricula that is written well but laid out badly - read, overwhelming to the student), and the frequent review sections. To expect a student to read an entire chapter of 8-10 pages of history facts and figures and then answer only a few questions always seems silly to me, and The Critical Thinking Co. must agree because they have sections about 2 pages in length before asking for student feedback. The way it is broken up is much more conducive to retention, in my opinion.

There are multiple choice and free response review sections, charts and diagrams, a "Fun Fact" section for each lesson, and lots of pictures to help with the multiple ways a student needs to get the material into the brain's memory banks. I am always impressed with The Critical Thinking Co.'s ability to make their books interesting and interactive as compared to other texts.

This is one example of what I really liked about the book:

It is a review activity using a Venn Diagram to help students compare and contrast indentured servants with slaves. That is a literary process! I love when our subjects can be combined in a meaningful way - it takes the busywork out of language arts to write about something you are already learning in another subject area. :)

My daughter really likes this book and finds that it works well with her learning style. She tends to have trouble retaining a lot of text, so having it broken up in meaningful ways and with frequent student response sections has really helped her make more sense of U.S. History. If only we'd found this book earlier this year! ;)

If you are about to study U.S. History, or if you need a summer review, I recommend the U.S. History Detective. And since it is Book One, I intend to keep looking out for Book Two on their website (it isn't there yet, but I think this one will be a success, so it's just a matter of time)!

I also get to offer my readers the following deal from The Critical Thinking Co. as part of my agreement to write this review. If you ask me, that is a major bonus!

15% Off Any Size Order!
Details: Offer expires 5/31/2015 at Midnight PST. Use Coupon Code BLOGR315. Online prepaid orders only. Valid one per customer. Offer does not apply to iOS or Android apps, or manipulatives such as Attribute Blocks, Interlocking Cubes or Pattern Blocks. Offer may not be combined with other discounts or offers, and is not retroactive. Not valid on wholesale orders.

*Disclaimer: I was given a copy of the above-mentioned book for free with the intent to use and review it honestly. A positive review is not required and the above review is my honest feedback after using the book.

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