For our grade 4 and 5 students, “The Four C’s” have been newly added into the fine arts rotation. Students will still have classes in art, music, library, P.E., Bible, Spanish class, and spend time in our STEM lab each week, but now will also have coding, cooking, chess, and carpentry. There is research that speci cally supports the critical thinking development of students as they experience each of these classes.

Quarter 1 | CODING

Coding and programming skills can help young children with language development, problem solving, and critical thinking. “Coding brings young children rich opportunities for language development and the ‘notion of learning from mistakes,” says Chip Donohue, Ph.D., Director of Erikson’s TEC Center. He also said the skills create “habits of mind that are essential for the 21st century.”

The programming language we are exposing the students to is Swift. This is the new language for Mac, iOS, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. The curriculum we are using is Swift Playgrounds that was developed by Apple for the express purposes of schools helping to expose students to entry level coding. In the introductory class, students looked at the di erences between commands and functions, and then worked through exercises on implementing them into code form. The students were given a block of code, and they had to “fix it”.

Quarter 2 | COOKING/CULINARY

“Teachers and principals are seeing how the classroom cooking experience helps support critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills,” says Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, a nutrition researcher at Colorado State University.

Quarter 3 | CHESS

Chess can improve children’s critical thinking and problem solving skills. The America’s Foundation for Chess (AF4C) cites chess’s ability to improve visual memory, attention span, spatial reasoning, the capacity to predict and anticipate consequences, and the ability to use criteria to drive decision making and to evaluate alternatives.

Quarter 4 | CARPENTRY

Carpentry allows children another avenue for creativity; when provided with materials and limits, they can experiment and be creative. It also allows for the children to explore with tools and wood, using large and small muscle coordination. Problem solving skills are learned when children make decisions about the design and shapes to use specific projects. By working together in groups, children will practice social skills and can gain self-esteem.