History is one of those subjects that I hated in school, so I am always on the look out for products that can bring history to life for AJ. When I was given the chance to review World History Detective Book 1 from The Critical Thinking Co. I was excited. I have always heard wonderful things about The Critical Thinking Co. and this book did not disappoint!
About the Book
World History Detective Book 1 is a soft covered 362 page work text for students in grades six to twelve. It is broken up into 78 lessons covering Prehistory, Ancient Civilizations, Medieval Civilizations, and Early American History. In the beginning of the book there is a three page teacher overview that explains the type of questions included and why each question type is important. There is a full answer key at the back of the book so everything is right at your fingertips. This book can be used as a stand alone history text, or as a supplement or review for older students.
Each lesson follows a similar layout. There is about a page to a page and a half of reading, followed by about nine questions. The first questions are a mixture of; multiple choice, true/false, fact or opinion, and chronological order questions. Then there are one or two written response questions. The final page of the lesson is a concept map where students are asked to fill in the blank spaces from a word box.
What makes this book unique, is that for almost every question the student is required to give the sentence number where they found their answer.
In addition to the physical book, there is also a website listed in the book where you can download and print off review lessons to use after a group of lessons have been completed.
How We Used It
We are currently studying Ancient Civilizations, and we were planning on using this book as a supplement. After a few lessons, I realized that would be too much reading for AJ, so we put our other studies to the side and focused on this book.
We decided to break each lesson up into two days, mainly because AJ is a slow reader. The reading level wasn’t too hard, but reading so closely was new to her. On the first day she would read through the lesson and look at any maps or time-lines. Then she would do the concept map. The concept map was her favorite part and really helped me to know if she understood her lesson or not. After working on the concept map she would go back and answer the first nine questions. She was able to answer the questions fairly easily. Finding the sentence that supported her answer was a little more difficult for her. In the beginning I would tell her what paragraph she needed to look in. After a few lessons she started to be able to find the supporting sentence on her own most of the time.
On the second day she would reread through the lesson and then answer the written response question. The first day usually took her about 45 minutes and the second day took about 30 minutes. While the first set of questions was fairly straight forward and could be found in the text, the written response required some more thought. Here is an example from lesson 6 on the Babylonian Empire.
What were the two greatest contributions the Babylonians made to future civilizations? Explain how each contribution benefited future civilizations. Please use complete sentences to answer the question.
Often AJ would use the concept map to help her answer the written response question.
What We Thought
Overall we really liked the book. It taught way more that just history. It taught thinking skills, it helped with her reading, and problem solving skills. There were a few things that we didn’t care for. In the beginning AJ had a hard time writing in the book because it is so thick. When she tried to write on the pages on the left she had to hold the book funny to be able to write in it. The pages are perforated and can be taken out, but we decided to keep them together. The other thing that AJ didn’t care for was the small writing space on the concept maps. AJ writes fairly large and had a little difficulty fitting in the words. That being said, I don’t think most 6th graders would find the spaces too small. The only other issue we had was that there were two lessons in the Prehistory section that went against our beliefs. It was simple to just skip those two lessons and be on our way.
While there were a few things that we didn’t like, there was a lot we did like. I loved that the questions forced AJ to read very closely, not just skim to try and find the answer. AJ loved the concept map! Seeing all of the concepts broken down really helped her to understand the big picture. In fact we have started using concept maps in other subjects since they helped her so much. I think AJ’s favorite part was that there wasn’t a lot of writing. There were only one or two questions in each lesson that required her to write. The maps and time-lines helped a lot. They really helped her to visualize what was going on. The lessons were full of details and AJ learned way more than I was expecting. We plan to continue to use World History Detective Book 1 as a supplement to our history unit study. It was a great addition to our homeschool, and I would recommend it to those who are looking for a easy to follow program that is fairly independent and makes kids think.
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The Crew was able to review a few different products from The Critical Thinking Co. check out their reviews too!