Documentation + Assessment. Let’s talk.
The key to valuing play is to treat the work done through play as important. You need to show the same excitement and encouragement you show when the children are beginning to write, read, add, multiply, divide, ride a bike, etc.
Spend time playing. Spend time watching. Spend time documenting their play.
If you do these things, you’ll find it easy to assess the children on objectives/standards/skills that you might have done via a worksheet (…don’t get me started on worksheets. blah).
I usually turn the play the children do into a learning story. I find the curriculum outcomes within their play. I ask questions to deepen their thinking. I ask for the reasons why they chose to do the things they did/do in their play, I ask them to reflect, I listen, I write, I take photos, I take videos. Sometimes I say nothing, sometimes I say a lot. It really depends on what stage you are observing them in, and whether or not you are a participant in the play.
It’s important that whatever documentation you are doing, you make this visible within the classroom. This shows accountability and makes the children responsible for their learning. I usually read the learning stories to the class with permission of the children who are in the story (which makes them usually beam with pride, and bumps their confidence up. It also serves as a model for the others). It also shows parents the kind of learning going on through play, and what they’re children are doing.
This is how I do my documentation (before I turn it into a learning story or documentation panel),
I use a checklist with some curriculum objectives that I think I might see throughout this period (ex. if we are doing a unit on Living Things – I might put some science outcomes, writing specific outcomes, maybe some measurement for math?) and I jot down notes as I am observing play and asking questions. I also do a lot of anecdotal notes and observational notes on scrap paper as I move around the room. I have a clipboard that I attach these to papers to (usually I have a separate checklist for math, writing, etc, and lots of extra paper).
And then it becomes something like this…