One of the most popular posts on my blog has been about math and logic in early childhood education, so I know my readers are always looking for math ideas! That’s why I was excited about this review-
My 8 year old has been using The Critical Thinking Co.‘s Pattern Explorer Beginning (for grades 3-4) physical book (they offer a digital version) for logic, fun, and developing her number sense. Read towards the end for a free shipping offer + a great coupon code from The Critical Thinking Co.!
What it is
Pattern Explorer Beginning is a book of 40 pattern problems divided into the following 5 themes:
- Pattern Predictor
- Equality Explorer
- Sequence Sleuth
- Number Ninja
- Function Finder
As the student moves through the 84 page book, the problems get more difficult, building upon one another. This is a book you would have a child complete in order, not pull from randomly for enrichment. Of course if a child is ready to begin in a different spot, they could always choose to start further into the book. The pages are perforated for easy removal and the paper is high quality 9very little shadowing through the page), bright white paper.
Something I was happy to see in the book is the acknowledgement that these books, this whole process of developing, is challenging! I often refer to my teaching degree program here on the blog, but this is one of those times I can attest to what the product is saying- Yes! Moving from the developmental stage of concrete thinker onto abstract thinker is something we can nourish and support, but not something we can force. By giving a child these pattern problems, we aren’t “making them smarter,” we are enriching what is already developing.
I wasn’t an abstract thinker until almost high school, it seemed. I struggled through honors math in 8th grade. I simply *couldn’t* get the abstract thought that was required for the work. Then I hit 9th grade and *boom* I not only loved math, but was finally GOOD at it! It just took time for me; my brother on the other hand seemed to live in an abstract world and was able to understand the harder math younger than I could.
So when the book suggests it is for 3-4th grade, and your 3rd grader is struggling, please know it is normal and the book itself is a process. It is fun, and meant to be like working a puzzle on paper, using numbers. It isn’t meant to judge cognitive ability, or assess a child. It is to be pursued
with a sense of adventure and perseverance. Some pattern discoveries may come quickly, while others may require patience and determination.
Each activity has a companion hints and solutions section towards the back of the book, so students can check their work, but also, when a student gets stuck, they can get a hint for how to move forward. Also I really like that the publisher has provided solutions that may be most common, but emphasizes there is more than one way to solve a problem. Every child’s thought process will be unique to them, and that is not only okay, but just as it should be!
How We Use Pattern Explorer Beginning
My daughter worked on the book about 3 days a week; it was a real challenge for her (in a good way). She is a younger 2/3rd grade level, just beginning multiplication in her 2nd grade math curriculum, so this book advanced for her pretty quickly. But she has loved it so far! Because she didn’t know all her multiplication facts, I printed her a simple multiplication table chart from the SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This gave her the numbers she needed to help her especially with the Number Ninja puzzles.
In the first Number Ninja puzzle, she was given 4 blank boxed-the instructions were something like “write whole numbers in the empty boxes so their product equals the number on the right fo reach row, and the number on the bottom for each column.” Yes, we had to read the directions more than once 😉 haha… mama included! But she did it! She used her multiplication chart for the times tables she didn’t yet know, and she worked through many of those problems!
I love seeing her thought process on paper, how she uses what she knows- using tally marks, addition, making groups, pairs, etc) to solve the problems is so neat to me. During my student teaching internship, I was never surprised by the ability of my students, but it still doesn’t change how in awe I am of children’s minds.
It is even more fun being a part of it as their homeschooling mama. =) I am really appreciative to companies like The Critical Thinking Co. that make math and problem solving fun and challenging in our homeschools!
Here is the best part for my readers- you can add this, or any other Critical Thinking Co book to your homeschool, or summer enrichment at a great price! Get *free shipping* + 15% off any size order using the coupon Coupon: TOSCREW19
This offer expires Expires: 12/31/2019. I can’t wait to add one of their other books to our homeschool (and who doesn’t love free shipping?!)
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