Bookworm LOVES two subjects–literature and history.  The more history programs he can study, the better.

The TOS Crew recently gave us a chance to choose from a number of products from The Critical Thinking Co..  When I saw that one of the offerings was U.S. History Detective, Book 1, we decided to try that one.

About U.S. History Detective, Book 1


U.S. History Detective, Book 1, is for students in 8th – 12th grade.  Bookworm is only in 6th grade, but he has studied U.S. history extensively through elementary school.

According to the website, this book can be used as a stand alone textbook or as a supplemental text.  It meets the common state social studies standards for 8th grade.

The book covers the period from the Colonial era to the Reconstruction era.    The book has nine sections:

  1. The Colonial Era Introduction
  2. The Revolutionary Era Introduction
  3. The Federal Era Introduction
  4. The Nationalism Era Introduction
  5. The Reform Era Introduction
  6. The Expansion Era Introduction
  7. The Sectional Conflict Era Introduction
  8. The Civil War Era Introduction
  9. Reconstruction Era Introduction

There are 65 lessons total.  The text is 314 pages long, and after that, the answers are given at the end of the book.

IMG_6581The chapters follow a general format.  First, there are several pages of reading, then a multiple choice review/quiz, then a written response question.  There are also review sections periodically.

Our Experience Using U.S. History Detective, Book 1

We covered approximately one chapter per week.  The first day, Bookworm would read the chapter.  The second day he would complete the multiple choice sheet, then he would write the written response for the next two days.  On the final day of the week, we would discuss his written response.

Even though Bookworm was under the recommended age, he did not have trouble reading or understanding the book or doing the multiple choice work.  What did give him trouble was the written response question.  To give you an idea of the type of questions given, this one is from Ch. 3:

“Look at the illustration in the lesson labeled ‘A tobacco plantation in the Southern Colonies.’  Use complete sentences to explain what clues in the drawing support things you have read about in the text of this chapter.”

There is nothing wrong with the written response questions.  In fact, they’re meant to imitate the type of questions found in college-level or AP classes.  At Bookworm’s age (11.5) and maturity, they were simply beyond his reasoning and writing abilities.

What We Liked about U.S. History Detectives, Book 1

IMG_6580The book is filled with colorful pictures and illustrations, and there are plenty of maps to illustrate the author’s points.  My geography-loving son enjoyed this aspect.

In addition, the chapters are usually only three to four pages long, so they are not time consuming.

Bookworm really enjoyed the “Fun Fact Feature” in each chapter.  For instance, in Lesson 3, the Fun Fact Feature is:

“A common sight above the front door of a plantation home in the Southern Colonies was a carved pineapple.  What did the pineapple represent?”

Later in the chapter, the explanation is given.  These fun facts brought history to life for Bookworm.

Finally, he enjoyed the multiple choice questions because some answers only slightly deviated from one another, which required Bookworm to look back and dig a bit deeper into the text to find the right answer.

What We Disliked about U.S. History Detectives, Book 1

The text was a bit dry.  Bookworm would have liked to have seen more features like the Fun Facts to further bring history to life.

Otherwise, this was a good, solid history text.

I was one of 100 reviewers to review one of five different products from The Critical Thinking Co.   To read more reviews, click on the link below.

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