Friday, March 13, 2015

The Critical Thinking Co. ~ Pattern Explorer ~ Review


Have you ever received a curriculum that your child loved so much they actually asked to do the work? Well, this was the reaction I received from my oldest daughter, who is 11 years old, when we recently reviewed Pattern Explorer from The Critical Thinking Co.  

What is Pattern Explorer?


Pattern Explorer is 96 page paperback workbook geared towards grades 5-7. It provides a rich and diverse collection of pattern problems for students to explore, investigate, discover, and create. There are forty activity sets in the book and they are divided into five themes that appear in rotating order:
  • Pattern Predictor
  • Equality Explorer
  • Sequence Sleuth
  • Number Ninja
  • Function Finder
The activities build on one another and gradually get more sophisticated as the collection progresses. Each activity is accompanied by hints and very detailed solutions that can be found in the back of the workbook. Students are encouraged to explore the patterns with a sense of adventure and perseverance. 

The author of Pattern Explorer is a gentleman named, Darin Beigie. Mr Beigie teaches mathematics at Harvard-Westlake School in Los Angeles, Ca. He develops curriculum and classroom materials to foster greater critical thinking and creativity among his students. He is also the author of several other books by The Critical Thinking Co.


How we used Pattern Explorer and what we liked


My daughter worked in Pattern Explorer approximately three to four times each week. She completed one lesson each time she sat down with the book. Each pattern activity presented a different challenge. She was able to discover some solutions very easily, while others proved to be much more challenging. I could tell that she really enjoyed the challenge though. She showed a lot of patience and determination while trying to figure some of the solutions out and great excitement when they were completed. It was a ton of fun to see her excitement and hear her explain to me how she was able to come up with the solution. I am confident that this book gave her a brand new perspective on what she originally thought patterns were and she has learned that being able to recognize a pattern is important.

A great addition to the book is the fact that hints and solutions can easily be found in the back of the book. I highly recommended that she refer to the hints when struggling with a solution. The hints did prove to be a tremendous help to her. I loved that they provided just the right amount information to get her thinking in the right direction and allow her to work out the solution on her own. 

The solutions also proved to be very helpful. I recommended that she didn't flip to the back to just solve the problem, but rather allow me to make that judgement call if I felt like she needed to. The one thing about her seeing the solution that I didn't mind was the fact that she could then see how the pattern worked and analyze it that way as well. I felt that even when this method was used she still learned a great amount. I also enjoyed having the solutions for myself. They allowed me to check her work in a fast and efficient way. Although, I do have to admit, even I had fun trying to find the solutions to some of the patterns. One particular one was even a challenge for me, but in a fun way. 

We both enjoyed the fact that there was ample space provided for her work to be shown with each activity. However, she did also use a separate notebook that came in handy for when she had to design charts, make lists, and draw diagrams.

We didn't use Pattern Explorer as a stand alone math curriculum, but rather as a enrichment activity. She still has lessons to finish before completing this book, but I anticipate that this is definitely one that she will finish. 



Final Thought 

Overall we both thoroughly enjoyed Pattern Explorer. I loved that it allowed my daughter to not only use her math skills but a lot of critical thinking skills as well.  She is learning to develop reasoning skills that are essential for mathematics and science. As always, The Critical Thinking Co. has delivered another wonderful product and I am reminded why I love this company so much. It truly is a great product and I highly recommend it! When I asked my daughter what final thing she would like to say for the review she told me to tell you all that she thinks it is awesome! 




What Does Pattern Explorer cost?

You can currently purchase Pattern Explorer for only $14.99




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