Core Programs & Curricula


At Chess Institute of Canada (CIC), we provide two core programs—in-class and extracurricular—and they are individually described below, including how they relate to our teaching curricula.

Chess World Curriculum

Since 2011, Chess Institute of Canada (CIC) has used Chess World’s Thinking DIfferent teaching curriculum, under an exclusive Canadian license. Chess World is a company owned by Mr. Tal Granite, CIC’s former CEO.

In-Class Programs

Thinking Different provides a unique method of chess instruction for schools and was originally developed with two primary objectives in mind: i) to ensure that chess is accessible to everyone; and ii) to use chess as a tool to improve academic and life skills. Thinking Different is taught in elementary schools (K-G6) and in middle and high schools (G7-12), as an in-class enrichment program (an “ICP“). In our ICPs, children develop a wide range of life skills that have a lasting effect on their personal growth and ability to interact socially, including goal setting, knowledge sharing, maturity, and responsibility.

While it has been well documented in educational and other research that simply playing chess can improve life skills, Thinking Different goes further by addressing life skills directly. It uses a variety of activities alongside chess instruction to make learning fun. Activities can include drama and improvisation, guided imagery, physical activities, unique creative assignments, group discussions and challenges, and chess is used as the common thread in every activity. Relevant worksheets and workbooks allow for an enriched learning experience. This variety of activities and focus on developing life skills is what has made this program work so well.

Extracurricular Programs

Our extracurricular programs—individually referred to as an “ECP” and collectively comprised of lunchtime and after-school chess clubs, plus camps and tournaments—utilize the Thinking Different club curriculum module. This is to ensure that our students continue to receive both a solid foundation in chess at all levels, from beginners to competitive players, along with a well-planned infusion of life skills instruction. We believe that the confidence children gain when involved in these programs results in both improvements to chess and in other areas of their young lives.

In a typical ECP lesson, children are divided into small groups based on age and skill level. Each group receives instruction, which builds from lesson to lesson in a structured, engaging, and entertaining way, with game playing, tournaments and other chess challenges to round out the picture. During the play component, the instructor moves around the class, providing assistance, ideas, correction and support, as children play with peers who are at the same level as them. The learning is accompanied by appealing and dynamic Chess World curriculum workbooks and worksheets, which provide an added value to every child’s experience.

The Thinking Different™ curriculum has served CIC well over the last decade, however, like most teaching curricula, periodic revisions and sometimes even replacements are necessary. This is discussed in the following section.

New CIC Curriculum

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, commencing in March 2020 CIC began converting its ICP and ECP in-person programs to online equivalents, and a few months later, it also launched a new initiative to replace the Thinking Different teaching curriculum with something more adaptable, flexible and reusable in an online teaching environment.

Our internally developed Chess to Life integrated chess and life skills teaching curriculum is that new initiative. It has the following elements:

The new chess curriculum component consists of 7 chess teaching categories linked to 71 individual teaching modules. The categories and the related # of linked modules are as follows: Beginning Chess (6); Goal Setting (3); Openings (7); Strategy (16); Tactics (22); Endgames (9); and Miscellaneous Topics (8).

Compensation is awarded to instructors for using their approved, creative works. For their submitted lessons, instructors identify which of the 71 chess teaching modules and which life skills are being collectively targeted. For each lesson submitted, the instructor and a member of CIC’s Curriculum Committee flesh out the details of the Chess to Life integration being applied.

The transition from Thinking Different to Chess to Life is scheduled to be completed by December 31, 2021. Our aim is to ensure that our students and their parents continue to view our Chess to Life programs as fun, engaging and inspiring, while students successfully improve both their chess skills and life skills. We are both excited and proud to have embarked on this new curriculum update project for CIC.

Learn more about what we teach, or contact us to bring a program to your school

In this Chess960 starting position, what surprising first move could you make as White?

(Click puzzle for solution)
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