Observation and assessment are essential
components of an effective play-based
program. Teachers need the knowledge
and skills to identify and describe the
learning that is taking place in order to assess
student performance and make appropriate
changes to the program plan. For the most part,
this can be accomplished through well organized
Documentation consists of:
• anecdotes based on day-to-day observations;
• on-going developmental review;
• representative samples of student work;
• visual records of the learning in progress, as well
as the products;
• notes from conversations with colleagues,
parents, and other professionals.
Documentation is particularly important for reporting
learning through play. Standardized tests and other
forms of quantifiable evaluation do not capture the
richness of learning that occurs during play. Qualitative
assessment through participant observation has long
been accepted as a valuable means of collecting data
on significant human behavior. Teachers need to have
training in this important strategy for evaluating the
students’ learning through play.
This type of documentation is also important for
student reflection and assessment as they view, for
example, the visual records of their learning (work
samples, photos, video) from start to final product.
It allows students to chart their progress, to see
where they started, where they finished, and what
happened along the way. This kind of documentation
is the ‘memory’ of what happened and provides a
‘history’ of development.
Children may also be involved in documenting their
learning as a way of recording what they have done
to share with others.