Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Crypto Mind Benders®

Back in April, I was asked to review some products from The Critical Thinking Co.  At the time, we were finishing up our current school year because we had a lot of traveling on the schedule for May.  However, both girls expressed an interest in the products, so I agreed to the review.  Be sure to check back later for my review of the James Madison Critical Thinking Course – as Ashley is looking forward to adding this to her senior year.

For now, though, we’ll focus on the Crypto Mind Benders®.  Here’s a bit about this new series from The Critical Thinking Co.’s website:

023 Crypto Mind Benders® develop mathematical reasoning and critical thinking skills that are vital to achieving academic and lifelong success. They’re great for introducing children to encryption, algebraic thinking, and basic computer programming operations.

Crypto Mind Benders® compel children to break a secret code so they can identify a hidden joke or quotation. To break the code, children must apply logic and mathematical reasoning to 3 sets of clues. The challenge is getting all the information out of each clue! Once children break the code, they can solve the cryptogram by substituting the numbers with their corresponding code letters. The Quotations book familiarizes children with classic quotations from famous thinkers such as Albert Einstein, Voltaire, Socrates, and more! The Jokes edition familiarizes children with classic, good-humored, jokes that both kids and adults enjoy.

This series is for grades 3-12+ with a focus on mathematics.  Each book in the series sells for $9.99, and can be purchase in print format, or as an e-book download.

We received the Famous Quotations book.  My Gracie is almost 11 and would definitely say that math is her favorite subject.  So, I felt quite certain that she’d enjoy this book.  I sat it aside, thinking we’d start it with our new school year (which we plan  to start here in a few weeks).  However, when we were packing our entertainment bags for our trip to Florida the other week, I thought maybe she might enjoy working on the book on the way. 

Little did I know HOW MUCH she would enjoy it!  She had finished the ENTIRE BOOK (30 activities) by the time we arrived in Florida (granted, it was a trip broken up over 2 days time).  Still, she absolutely LOVED the book and literally BEGGED me to check The Critical Thinking Co.’s booth at the FPEA convention to see if there were any other books in the series.

Now she is not-so-anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Classic Jokes book!  I’m wondering how long it’ll take her to zip through that one, and if the company is planning on adding more books to this fun series (?!)

While visiting the convention booth, we did  grab up a few other resources to entertain us on our trip – one of the books in the Dr. DooRiddles series (which provided great family entertainment in the car), and one of the books in the Mind Benders® series (which the girls are literally fighting over). 

As a mom, I love that these products cross so many age barriers and are not just for a particular age/grade.  We appreciate products that we can use together, even though my kids are rather far apart in age.  And I also like knowing that, while my kids are having fun, they are also learning and getting a well-rounded education. 

So far, I have yet to try a book from The Critical Thinking Co. that we haven’t enjoyed.  We plan to use their Mathematical Reasoning(TM) series for Ian this coming year.  I enjoyed visiting with another mom in the convention booth and introducing her to the Crypto Mind Benders® by sharing my daughter’s experience (FYI: she bought the book!)  I will definitely be watching for more  books in this series, and will be recommending them!

NOTE: I received a free copy of the Crypto Mind Bender® book referenced in this review in order that we might use it and share our honest thoughts on it.  I was not required to write a positive review and I was not compensated in any other way.

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