Oh, assessments and data collection.... such a necessary evil for preschool teachers all over the globe. While assessments and evaluation give us teachers the information we need to construct lessons and small groups, they aren't always very much fun for students.
I mean lets be honest... there aren't too many kids out there that like testing. But, that baseline data and growth data really can share some good info - so the probabilities of assessments going away, in my opinion, is very unlikely.
So, what's a preschool teacher to do who needs to do assessments but knows they are a drag? We do what we do with literally everything else and find a way to make it engaging!
With some simple ideas, you can easily knock out all of those assessments in a way in which children don't even know they are testing! Win!
How? By incorporating games, hands-on tools, movement and observations! Let's break them down...
Assessing through Games
By using single player games that focus on a skill, you can gain some pretty great data without your students even realizing it! Take the shape game in the picture below:
The student spins the spinner and the teacher asks what shape they landed on to see if they can name the shape. Then, the student covers up the matching shape on the gameboard. The game continues until the gameboard is filled.
Or, take this parking lot game that assess numeral recognition. The teacher calls out a number and the student drives a toy car to that numbered parking spot.
Even a simple path game can tell us how children do with counting with 1-1 correspondence and counting dots on a die.
Using Hands-On Manipulatives and Tools
Create engaging assessments by just adding math manipulatives. The skills of patterning and sorting work great with bear counters.
Need students to name letters? Let students use a pointer to point to the letters and name them.
Other fun ideas...use a fly-swatter and have students 'whack' a card and name the shape on it. Use puppets and have students 'feed' the puppet colors or shapes and name them while they feed the puppet.
One thing preschool teachers know for sure is that littles like to move! So, why not add some movement to assessments?!
Try laying out shape/color/letter/numerals cards on the carpet. Have a child toss a beanbag on a card and name what is on the card. Or, lay the cards at one end of the rug, while the students starts at the other. Give the student an action, like 'hop to go get a card'. They hop over, grab a card, hop back and name what is on the card.
Observations through Play
Children are always learning something new through play! Is there a skill that you could observe during free play that could be documented as an assessment?
Sorting lends itself great to play because children sort often when cleaning up or using manipulatives in the math center or light table.
Counting with 1-1 correspondence can also often be seen and heard through play. Document when these things happen because children are showing you exactly what they know!
How do you keep your assessments and testing times engaging?