Play-Doh Teaching Tools

The 4c's : Essential for 21st-century learning and success

When it comes to educating young kids, many of us have heard of the 3 R's: reading, writing, and arithmetic. Perhaps you haven't heard, however, about the 4 C's: critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity. Essential for 21st-century learning and success 1 , the 4 C's set a platform for discovering the world in an innovative and non-prescriptive way 2 . These skills can help prepare kids to navigate their immediate environment 3 , and can help set them up for success in their educational environment 4,5 , and beyond.

As we look toward our children's futures, engaging toddlers and young children (ages 2- 5 years) with sensory, open-ended activities can help them prepare for this big, elaborate world. These activities not only encourage development of basics such as fine motor skills, but can also provide ideal ways to practice and nurture critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity. To get started on these activities, all you need is some Play-Doh compound and a few other materials from home! Also, the questions you ask and your participation are critical to your child practicing the skills referenced below.

[1]. National Education Association. Preparing 21st Century Students for a Global Society: An Educator’s Guide to the “Four Cs”. www.nea.org/assets/docs/A-Guide-to-Four-Cs.pdf

[2]. A R Saaveda, V D Opfer. 2012. Nine Lessons on How to Teach 21st Century Skills and Knowledge www.rand.org/blog/2012/10/nine-lessons-on-how-to-teach-21st-century-skills-and.html

[3]. R Rende, J Prosek. 2015. Raising Can-Do Kids: Giving Children to Tools to Thrive in a Fast-Changing World. New York: Perigee / Penguin.

[4]. The College Board. 2011. Arts Education Standards and 21st Century Skills: An Analysis of the National Standards for Arts Education as Compared to the 21st Century Skills Map for the Arts.

[5]. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). 2011. NSTA Position Statement: Quality Science Education and 21st-Century Skills

[6]. B M Stecher, L S Hamilton. 2014. Measuring Hard-to-Measure Student Competencies: A Research and Development Plan. RAND Corporation.

[7]. A Gopnik. 2012. Scientific Thinking in Young Children: Theoretical Advances, Empirical Research, and Policy Implications. Science, 227, 1623-1627.