Friday, April 2, 2010

Critical Thinking Press--Language Smarts

Language Smarts published by Critical Thinking Press is a user friendly language arts workbook that teaches students basic language skills while challenging them to understand advanced critical thinking concepts. Bright, colorful and engaging this 314 page workbook introduces advanced language arts skills to students in a slow yet progressive way. Language
Smarts is designed to be used as a spine for language arts study or as a supplemental
resource.

Our family received Language Smarts Level C, the 2nd grade edition of Language Smarts, for free from Critical Thinking Press in exchange for this review. My second grade daughter, Sierra was very excited when I presented the book to her. Sierra struggles with language arts studies, but after reading the title, Language Smarts was convinced this workbook was for her.Workbook pages are glue bound and to my knowledge NOT perforated. The printing is beautiful with vibrant, engaging colors, graphics and text. Different sections of the book are designated with various colors. For example, "Think a Minute" activities in green, vowel/consonant practice in orange, "Word Benders" in bright blue, etc. Language Smarts, Level C sells for $39.95 on the Critical Thinking Press website, www.criticalthinking.com

The beginning of the workbook addresses basic grammar, reading, vocabulary, and writing skills needed for second grade. Once students conquer the essential language arts skills for second grade, they are challenged with advanced third grade concepts. Language Smarts is definitely challenging, yet presents concepts in a slow, progressive manner to avoid stress and frustration.

Language Smarts uses real life examples and teaches information not usually incorporated in typical language arts curriculum. For example, when learning the definition of "mnemonic" students are taught to remember the Oceans by using "I Am A Person" (I for Indian, A for Arctic, A for Atlantic, and P for Pacific). Yet another workbook page teaches following directions
by providing practice using a street map. Students are asked to guide a car to a specific location filling in street names and directional words. The variety of concepts included ensure the workbook remains intriguing for students. A comprehensive list of topics covered in Language Smarts Level C can be found by clicking here.

No lesson planning is necessary when using
Language Smarts, but I found when using the workbook as a supplemental resource, careful review of topics is important so as not to miss valuable reinforcement opportunities. An answer key is provided on the company website for quick checks of completed pages. I did not discover the answer key until the end our review time, because unfortunately, Critical Thinking Press forgot to publish this detail in the workbook.

Sierra loved Language Smarts initially, but soon became frustrated by some of the pages. Most pages required her to read directions carefully requiring a great deal more critical thinking to complete them successively than she anticipated. I appreciated the challenge, but was quickly reminded of Sierra's strengths and weaknesses with language arts as her frustration settled in.

"I like the drawings, colors and pictures in the book. I think the lessons are hard. Sometimes they are too hard", said Sierra.

Our family uses a non-traditional approach to language arts study. I have never concerned myself with state standards or traditional textbooks for teaching language arts skills, but instead have utilized narration, copywork and spelling practice for younger grades. Language Smarts is designed to align with State standards. Homeschooling families not following strict State standards will most likely benefit by using Language Smarts as a supplemental resource rather than a core curriculum. Using the workbook in this manner will ensure the challenging, yet engaging pages are viewed as a treat rather than a chore.

I will continue to use Language Smarts Level C as a supplemental resource for Sierra. Although challenging for her I can easily see after using the workbook for a few weeks how time spent will become beneficial. Sierra loves workbooks and all things resembling a typical school setting. I think a slow, leisurely pace with this workbook will lessen her frustration and provide maximum educational benefit.

Language Smarts Level C is a great product for 2nd grade language arts study. Critical Thinking Press currently offers Language Smarts Level B for 1st grade and Level D for third grade. The variety, challenge, and real life skills of Language Smarts provide a unique, engaging and enjoyable method approach to language arts study.

1 comment:

B Bravo said...

Hi! I would like to contact you, it seems I have the same situation with one of my kids in regard the language arts. How could I contact you?