Workbooks for a Gifted 7-year-old?
March 27, 2007 8:40 PM   Subscribe

Help me choose some work books for my very bright first grader.

So as I was putting Wonderboy to bed tonight he got all excited with a new idea. He wants me to give him "lists of problems" to solve with "something I get to keep" when he completes them. Sounds like a plan.

So can anyone recommend work books or problem books for a very bright seven-year-old? My boy is reading three or four grade levels past his age. He loves math, dinosaurs, Yu-Gi-Oh and stuff like that, and science. He has moderate problems with his temper. We used to get him those cheap homework books you see in stores but they never seemed that good to me. I want work books that emphasizes creative thinking, history, and progressive ideas.
posted by LarryC to Education (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Get some workbooks from Singapore, like the Singapore Math ones (which have more than just math!) or anything stocked by POPULAR bookstore (looks like they do international shipping). Their workbooks tend to be easy to understand, entertaining, and helpful educationally - definitely a lot more interesting than the Malaysian ones I had to endure!
posted by divabat at 8:54 PM on March 27, 2007

I'm going to advise giving him books that interest him, age appropriate or not. He should have the experience of choosing something so far above his current understanding, he can't grasp it. And, of having that selection mildly criticized as such, by you. And he should have the experience of trying something you think a little beyond him, and working hard to understand it, and succeeding, to your surprise.

At seven, I frightened my father and my mother, by my library choices, but they believed in me, and let me choose, and read, even when they couldn't answer my questions. And when I was 53, and they, 75, we all were glad for their earlier faith, and considerable quiet wisdom.

You get that boy a library card, to the best library in your area, and you prowl with him the Dewey numbered stacks, while they still exist, like adventurers in search of living dinosaurs. And you set some future stage, where he will think you smarter now, than you have ever been.
posted by paulsc at 11:13 PM on March 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've thought and thought, but I don't know of any workbooks, but I have another useful idea or two.

"Something you get to keep?" "Creative thinking?" How about a book of projects? He'll have to use math, creativity and common sense to produce something, be it a birdhouse, a vegetable garden, a doorbell or a crocheted cap, and having something to really treasure upon completion seems more motivating to me than just completed pages. I was a very similar kid: reading on my own at 2, but not so great at controlling the ensuing frustrations. Learning the value of hard work is important for advanced kids.

I second the library card recommendation. I don't know how great an idea it is to get in the habit of giving him what amounts to extra homework, as a long term strategy, but if he needs the mental stimulation, look into GATE activities or other alternative learning units for kids around his age, like a Waldorf curriculum, or a foreign language unit, for example, to add to his regular education.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:43 AM on March 28, 2007

The "something I get to keep" sounds to me like he's thinking along the lines of a treasure hunt. What I've done in the past is taken index cards and put math problems (or compass directions, or verbal clues) on them to lead the child around the house/yard until they find a "prize". It's a lot of work to make them, though.
posted by DU at 4:13 AM on March 28, 2007

We have given our niece several of the Anti-Coloring Book series and they have been received quite well (by both the 8 year old and her parents). They are full of what I would consider to be "creative prompts" (design a robot that does a chore you don't like doing...) and can be purchased either in a general topic, or a specific one (exploring space, mysteries).
posted by librarianamy at 4:59 AM on March 28, 2007

I'm going to second the projects idea. I think that at this age, what they like most is time with you.

My kids had similar abilities. We did lots of "stuff" together. Baking is a great way to teach measurements and scaling. Find his favorite cookie recipe and work on doubling it. Make bread together, and use it as a way to teach biology, and chemistry.

Lego is another great teaching tool at that age. Get a complicated set (if you feel like spending the money) and have him follow directions to put it together. Those directions can be quite challenging for a first grader. After he admires his accomplishment, tear it apart and use what he's learned to build alternative things. My youngest became a Lego car maker - she'd see cars and trucks on the road and go home and replicate them.

Start him on the piano. Music theory is a great challenge for that age, and it will only boost his math skills. Buy a field guide, and a small notebook. Take him on nature walks and have him start a diary of what he sees, along with the proper latin names for them.

In my expereince, workbooks can get tedious after awhile. An alternative to those is the Brainquest series. They're fun, and portable. My kids used to do them on car trips and before bed. They're great because you can quiz each other, and learn some great facts.
posted by Flakypastry at 6:25 AM on March 28, 2007

As homeschoolers, we kept a few of the Critical Thinking books around. My advice is to treat them as you would crossword puzzle books or joke books; let them hang around with no pressure on wonderboy to "finish" them. Just make them another resource for him.
posted by jvilter at 6:52 AM on March 28, 2007

I liked the Usborne Superpuzzles Maps and Mazes book (the only one I had, the others look interesting as well).
posted by anaelith at 7:17 AM on March 28, 2007

Check out SciToys, "Science Toys You Can Make With Your Kids".

Also, be careful about how you treat him when he does well at his various avocations. Always make sure you're rewarding him for good effort, and never because he's demonstrated he's soooo smaaaart. I know a lot of kids (now in college) with complexes because they got the idea, however subtly, that the love of their parents was a function of how well they did in school. While you should always encourage him in creative and educational pursuits, dedicated lifelong learners get that way because they see education as it's own reward.

You should read Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman, and pay attention to the stories about his dad. He should read it when he gets a bit older, or shows an interest. Similarly, Uncle Tungsten is great.
posted by phrontist at 7:55 AM on March 28, 2007

Response by poster: Great suggestions, thanks friends.
posted by LarryC at 11:10 AM on March 28, 2007

Workbooks alone can get boring, but they have their place. When my husband was a wonderboy, he loved logic puzzles something like this one. Now he's the problem-solvingest guy imaginable.

You can buy inexpensive books with fill-in logic problems at every level of difficulty.
posted by wryly at 11:21 AM on March 28, 2007

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