We live in an age of rapid change. Advances in communication and information technology continue to create new opportunities and challenges for the future. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, today’s young learners must develop strong 21st century skills in critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. These skills will form a vital part of their future.

Freia Layfield, Teacher Trainer for Oxford University Press provides 5 tips for bringing 21st century skills in to the kindergarten classroom:

Grow a bean (Critical Thinking)

Give each child a cup, some cotton wool, some soil and a bean. Get the children to splash a little water onto the cotton wool and place it in the cup. Help them to add soil and the bean. Cover the bean with more soil and lightly water again. Place the cups on a windowsill. The children can see them grow a little every day. Get the children to measure the plants as they grow. You could also read them the english story, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.

Masks (Communication, Creativity)

Draw a simple mask outline that will go around the children’s eyes. Cut out the masks, or help the children to cut them out. They are now ready to be decorated. On a table, place a selection of art products, such as feathers, coloured paper, magazines, paint, and glitter – or even just felt- tip pens and crayons. Children must come up to the ‘art table’ and ask ‘may I have this, please?’ You can respond as appropriate, for example, ‘yes, you may’. Once the children are finished decorating their masks, make holes in them and thread through string to go around the back of the children’s heads. The children can now use the masks for imaginative play as new characters! Ask them ‘What is your new name?’, ‘Where are you from?’ and ‘What do you like?’

Class height (Critical Thinking, Collaboration)

Create a simple height chart with centimeters or inches on a large piece of paper (or stick several pieces of paper together). Get the children to measure each other. They can write their own names next to their measurements. Repeat the activity a few months later to show the children how they’ve grown.

Float or sink? (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication)

Collect a variety of different items and prepare a tub of water. Will the items float or sink? Ask the class to guess what will happen before you try the experiment. Place the items into two categories: ‘sink’ or ‘float’. Now test their predictions! Place each item in the tub and see what happens. As you test each one, place it in the correct pile. Talk to your class about what they have learned. For example, things that sink are often heavy and things that float are light or have air in them.

Alphabet hunt (Creativity, Critical thinking, Communication)

Give each child three letters, such as aa, Bb, cc or dd, ee, Ff, so your class has the entire alphabet. Write the letters on the left side of a piece of paper. Hand out child- friendly magazines. The children look through the magazines. When they find something that starts with their letter, for example a butterfly for Bb, they draw the picture. When they have finished, help them to write the word of each object. Display the posters in your class – you’ll have class-made alphabet posters!

For additional information, please email deniece.wheeler@oup.com. These are just a few ideas to get your students on a firm path in developing 21st century skills and remember it’s never too early to start.

By Deniece Wheeler, Guest Writer

All photos courtesy of Oxford University Press

FIRST PRESENTED AT MENA COMMON CORE CONFERENCE IN DUBAI – OCTOBER 2014.