Monday, March 14, 2011

"Can You Find Me?"

Many workbooks aimed at younger students quickly kill the desire to learn, replacing it with the need to get the right answer. These young learners are all too often left on their own with workbook pages staring back at them, thus isolating the learning experience.

Can You Find Me?: Building Thinking Skills in Reading, Math, Science & Social Studies K-1, from Bright Minds, a division of The Critical Thinking Co., takes a different tack. Parents (teachers, caregivers) are encouraged to read the riddles aloud to the child, go through the possibilities together, then help figure out the best answer.

Using logic to sort through the riddles, children develop critical listening and thinking skills. Social studies, math, reading, and science are the general areas of study, but the approach for all is the same: read the riddle, tease out the clues, apply them to the answers given, and figure out which is correct. Practicing this methodology at a young age will serve a student well throughout their lives.

Can You Find Me? introduces many advanced concepts, without overwhelming the young student with jargon or terminology. For example, the math section introduces addition, subtraction, Venn diagrams, fractions, pattern recognition, and charts. The science section discusses logical order of events, climates, food chains, senses, and biology. The social studies section covers community, family, safety, comparisons, time, and seasons. The reading section focuses on sight words, letters and sounds, listening comprehension, and rhyming.

A sample problem from the science section goes as follows:

These pictures tell a story,
but not in the order you see.
Tell me what must have happened
as you point to them one, two, three.

Three pictures of a tree are beneath: one with green leaves, the next with snow, and the third with brown leaves. The child now points to the trees in order of the seasons. This opens up wonderful possibilities for discussion of the current season, weather, trees. It is also a terrific excuse to head outside and see in what stage your trees are.

All answers are in the back, as are skill matrices for each page. The content and skill are based state and national standards.

On a personal note, I use Can You Find Me? with my 4-1/2 year old. We sit together, go through about five or seven pages at a time. We start at random places in the book. Sometimes we go forward, while other times we go backward. We have repeated a few of the pages several times, because the sharks are interesting or the "poison" sign is reminiscent of the Jolly Roger. Can You Find Me? is a nice addition to our homeschool learning environment.

Article by Sarah J. Wilson

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