Tips for tots: fun assessment?

Look at that. What a cutie! Despite his fun finished product, this project was about the process. 

At the beginning of the year, teachers are taking in tons of information about their students. Addressing all areas of development is especially important for young children. Their ability to do simple tasks will directly influence how fun or difficult kindergarten is. Art is a great way to assess preschool skills while the child gets to play. 

core strength, standing, reaching up
fine motor, pencil grasp, pre-writing skills
cognitive, mixing colors, vocabulary, recall prior knowledge
executive processing, organizing, complete a task
social/emotional, following directions, self expression, attention

 The direction was, "Use red, white, and brown to paint this whole piece of paper so that there is no more white. Here is a paper towel and a cup of water you can use if you need it." 

During this activity we talked about the color red. I asked him to tell me things he could think of that were red. He needed some direction for mixing color on the paper (not on the pallet) and how to get color off his brush as well as he wanted. He did horizontal and vertical lines independently, then diagonal and curved lines after my model. He was able to stand and reach up to paint on a vertical surface, holding the brush with a mature grasp. He maintained attention to paint the entire paper with minimal redirection. 

core strength, sitting
fine motor, cutting with scissors
cognitive, shape recognition
executive processing, recall prior knowledge, planning
social/emotional, ask for help

This task, completed the following day, went more smoothly for He-man. The direction was, "Cut your paper into rectangles. We are going to make a picture using the rectangles afterward. Do you want to draw rectangles first or just cut them out?" He opted to cut them unassisted and was able to do it nearly independently. He was able to tell me that a rectangle had two long sides, two short sides, and four sides all together. He planned to make his shapes the same size and threw out shapes that were too small. 

core strength, sitting
fine motor, using glue stick
cognitive, same/different
executive functioning, paying attention, stay on task, change thinking
social/emotional, stay on topic in conversation

This is where I was a little surprised - He-man was still sitting attentively at the table after 15 minutes of cutting. Way to go, little man! He did need a little more help with this part. He wanted to put the glue on the big paper, but it was drying too quickly. He was able to change his mind, after seeing a model of gluing the back of the small paper before putting it on the large paper. During this activity we talked about things that are rectangle shaped, comparing same and different shapes. 

executive functioning, planning, organizing, keeping track of more than one thing
social emotional, shows independence

This is where he went off course - in a good way! He had a plan in his head for what his project would look like and took the initiative to change the size of his paper accordingly. 

I use a developmental checklist to help keep track of each child's abilities. Doing a project like this for evaluation helps keep stress off of the child (and myself - honestly), while allowing me to make sure they are meeting developmental milestones.