Critical Thinking Company is perhaps best-known for its Building Thinking Skills and Mind Benders books, and most of their materials have broad application to mathematics (because it requires critical thinking!), but the publisher has a few series in particular that hone in on mathematical reasoning.

Math Word Problems helps students conquer the "dreaded" math word problem by teaching them how and when to apply the math operations they know to real-life situations. The developmentally sequenced problems in each book are arranged so they cannot be solved by rote processes. Each problem requires its own thinking/problem-solving approach rather than applying the same solution process to entire groups of problems. Teaching Support Includes answers, instructions at the start of each concept, and examples to reassure students about what is expected of them.

Move over Sudoku, here come Balance Benders™! You can use these activities as quick, fun logic problems or as stepping stones to success in algebra. Students develop deductive thinking and pre-algebra skills as they solve balance puzzles that are more fun and addictive than Sudoku puzzles! Students must analyze each balance to identify the clues, and then synthesize the information to solve the puzzle. Try one—and then try to stop!

The same quick, fun logic problems as the Balance Benders™ books come as software, too! These interactive puzzles give you all the tools you need to work the problem out on-screen before selecting your answer. Developing algebraic thinking used in balancing and solving equations has never been more fun!

Want to try an interactive demo of these activities? Try our free online demo right now (for Beginning level)! This online demo is a sample of Balance Benders™ Beginning software.

The Balance Math™ & More! activities sharpen students’ critical thinking and computational skills, and develop algebraic reasoning.

Each book is made up of three different types of puzzles:
Balance Math: Students examine the balances to deduce the missing value.
Inside-Out Math: Students need to reverse their thinking, using the inverse relationships between addition and subtraction and multiplication and division to solve the puzzle.
Tic Tac Math: Students figure out the correct order to complete all rows, columns, and diagonals.

Level 1 focuses on addition and subtraction of whole numbers.
Level 2 focuses on multiplication and division of whole numbers, but has a few problems involving fractions.
Level 3 involves addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication as well as fractions and decimals.

The spiraling difficulty level is designed to scaffold a student’s conceptual understanding of the targeted operations from beginning to advanced. Teaching suggestions and detailed solutions are included in each book. Try one of these intriguing puzzles—and then try to stop!

With Balance Math™ Teaches Algebra!, understanding equations and solving word problems has never been easier or more fun! Introducing algebra through balanced scales is a natural and exciting way to conceptually master fundamental algebraic ideas. The book’s visually simple approach engages students intuitively in step-by-step thinking. The puzzle-like problems ensure students are cognitively involved while they hone their techniques of simplifying, substituting, and writing proofs to solve simultaneous equations.

Balance Math™ Teaches Algebra! is designed to move from simple to complex, with lessons scaffolding on earlier learning. Teaching suggestions and solutions are included. And like all the !

Analogies occur in life and frequently in high-stakes tests.  Understanding analogies and the ability to reason analogically (reasoning used to identify, evaluate, and solve an analogy) are important problem-solving skills which are an essential part of mathematical development. Analogies teach students to break problems down into their component parts, making it easier to recognize familiar formats that enable students to produce solutions. These analogies are designed around the grade-appropriate standards identified by the National Council of Teaching Mathematics (similar to the strands found in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics).

Math Detective® uses topics and skills drawn from national math standards to prepare your students for advanced math courses and assessments that measure reasoning, reading comprehension, and writing in math.

Students read a short story that includes a chart, table, or graph. Next they answer critical thinking questions to improve their understanding of the math concept and develop their critical thinking (comprehension) skills. Students can’t just scan the story for answers—they must carefully analyze and synthesize the information from the text and the chart, table, or graph to explain and support their answers.

Stories are age-relevant, high-interest, and show students that math is integral to everyday activities.

Teaching Support
Includes general and student introductions, a lesson that explains the concept of evidence, a chart of topics and key ideas to help select activities, and detailed answers.

Scratch Your Brain® activities develop your students’ math and problem solving skills. These fun activities boost competence, confidence, and test scores while helping students make the transition to higher level mathematics.

Each book contains a variety of engaging, often humorous activities, puzzles, patterns, sequences, writing multi-step solutions, and more. Scratch Your Brain® also encourages brainstorming and teaches students there is usually more than one way to solve a problem. Activities are sequenced by difficulty throughout each book and each chapter to allow students to gradually build their skills.

Teaching Support
Includes detailed solutions and a skills matrix to help teachers match the activities to students’ needs.

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