Anecdotal and Running Record Assignments

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Anecdotal Observation Assignments

“Education of the mind without education of the heart is not education at
all.” Aristotle

Goal - Observing Children
The goal of observation is to enhance your understanding of the major concepts and
milestones of development through observation of real children rather than just reading or
hearing about how children grow and develop. Child development refers to the kinds of
changes that occur from conception through late adolescence. Physical (fine and
gross/large motor), cognitive, emotional, social, self-help, and aesthetic development will be
explored through these observations, providing a brief account of development as it occurs.
In addition, using well-written anecdotal records teachers are better able to track a child’s
interests, how a child is getting along, learning, and progressing in a program, become the
basis for planning developmentally appropriate curriculum to help the child build skills, and
have documentation to support classroom assessments. Observations, recorded over time,
and representative of all domains of development can present a comprehensive picture of a
child’s development .

Piaget’s Concrete Operational Stage (2-7 years of age)
The preschool-aged children that you will be observing have entered into Piaget’s
preoperational stage of cognitive development. The key feature of children’s thinking in this
stage is symbolic representation. The child is now able to use a symbol, an object, or a
word to stand for something else. The use of symbols can be clearly seen in the child’s use
of language; for example, the child can now represent objects in the environment with the
appropriate word and can refer to past and future events. The use of symbols is also
apparent in children’s drawings, imitation, mental imagery, and symbolic play. For example,
a preoperational child might be observed feeding her doll imaginary cereal or drawing a
picture of the balloons at her last birthday party. Thinking in terms of symbols does permit
more flexibility and planning in their problem solving.

Despite these increases in cognitive skills, the thought processes of preoperational children
result in characteristic differences in reasoning. Because they do not use logical operations,
their reasoning often seems flawed to adults. One of the most easily observed differences
in how preoperational children reason at this age is the tendency to view the world from
one’s own perspective only, a phenomenon that Piaget termed egocentrism. Because of
egocentric thinking, preoperational children may “hide” by covering their eyes or only parts
of their bodies, believing that if they can’t see the seeker than they, themselves, can’t be

Other preoperational reasoning errors result from thinking that is intuitive, rather than
logical. For example, preschool children are incapable of conservation – they do not
understand that certain properties of objects, such as volume or mass, do not change just
because the superficial appearance of the object changes. Preoperational children are not
only tied to their perceptions, they are also unable to de-center their thinking, or think about
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more than one aspect of a problem at a time; \. Their thinking shows what Piaget called
irreversibility – they are unable to reverse or mentally undo an action.

During this stage of development, children acquire new words at an astronomical rate.
These rapid gains in children’s vocabulary are accompanied by mastery of more complex
grammatical structures such as forming past tenses and plurals. As children acquire the
grammatical rules of their language, a type of error called overregularization may occur in
which children overuse the basic rules of language. For example, a 2 ½ or 3-year-old may
say, “I bringed my puppy,” or “My feets are cold.” Children also become more likely to use
correct syntax – that is, they become more aware of how words should be ordered to
convey a particular meaning.

Children’s knowledge about gender and gender-role expectations develops very early.
Preschoolers have a strong sense of gender identity, a sense of being male or female.
Between the ages of 4 and 6, children develop gender constancy; the realization that
gender stays the same regardless of how one looks or behaves. At this point, they may
adopt very rigid standards for what they believe is appropriate male and female dress and

Preschool children are more likely to play with sex-appropriate toys; that is, boys are more
likely to play with stereotypical “boy toys” – such as trucks; and girls are more likely to play
with stereotypical “girl toys” – such as dolls and kitchen sets. Over the preschool years,
gender segregation also increases, as children are more likely to play with same-sex peers
rather than opposite-sex peers.

Preoperational children’s social interactions become increasingly reciprocal and
coordinated, which is reflected in their play. Children’s play can be divided into four
categories, ranging from least to most socially complex – nonsocial activity (onlooker and
solitary), parallel play, associative play, and cooperative play. Around the age of 4 of 5
there is a developmental shift in the type of play in which children engage. Four and five
year olds begin to demonstrate constructive play, drawing pictures or working on puzzles in
pairs or groups, purposefully creating and constructing something together. Play also
becomes more complex as children begin to experiment with both everyday and imaginary
roles through pretend or dramatic play. This type of play involves advances in cognition,
perspective taking, and communication skills.

While there are individual differences in development, most children develop typically.
Some children, however, may show significant maturational delays or differences – these
children are often identified with developmental disabilities. While many developmental
disabilities are identified based on delays or differences from what we know of typical
development, and different labels are used to describe the patterns of difference. It is
important to remember, however, that a child with a disability is first and foremost a child,
and that all children are typical in many ways. So instead of saying ‘disabled child’, it is
more appropriate and respectful to state ‘a child with a disability.’

Writing Skills
• If you struggle with your writing skills, there are several resources including enrolling
in CLDDV-48, securing a mentor through the Mentor Program (see instructor for
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referral), utilizing MJC’s writing lab or tutoring center, or working with a skilled high-
school or college student or peers to review your assignments before they are due.
• The following pointers will help your success in writing effective and informative
observational reports.
o Use the spell and grammar check functions in your computer’s writing
o Carefully review versions of commonly used words such as they’re (they are),
their (their shoes), and there (There are the missing shoes.)
o Carefully review words such as then and than
Then connotes the relationship between actions, such as, “We will
learn about anecdotal records and then running records.”
Than connotes a comparative measurement, such as, “Amanda is taller
than Dylan.”
o The over use of the word “then” is another area to consider. Try to limit your
use of it in your observational reports as it is often used excessively.
o Learn the correct format for quotations. Anytime you are reporting what the
child said, you must use the standard quotation format. Example: Kevin could
not reach the ball. He said, “Teacher will you get the ball for me?”
o When children are using tricycles, the word that describes how their feet work
is pedal. Examples: He pedaled. She pedaled. He was pedaling.
o Write your anecdotal observational reports in past tense. This means your
verbs will often end in “ed”. Examples: Julia played with the trains. Kevin
walked from the blocks to the carpet area. Keifer asked the teacher, “May I
have my turn now?”

How to record your observation:

• Observations must occur in a licensed preschool center-based program. Licensed
children’s centers are programs that operate either preschool and/or full-day
childcare services for children between 30 months and 5 years of age. They are
licensed by the State of California, Department of Social Services, Community Care
Licensing and receive site visits and inspections on a regular basis.
• The following are NOT acceptable as observation sites: family child care homes,
faith based nursery programs, family events, park visits, or play dates. Past
experience has demonstrated that these observations are not effective for the
purpose of this course.
• Select a program that is willing to work cooperatively with you and provide the
necessary information such as the child’s birth date. It is appropriate to give a
fictitious name to the child to keep the child’s name anonymous.
• Find a position where you can observe without interfering or interacting with the
activities of the classroom. Come prepared with your paper and writing implements
so that you do not bother the staff. A clipboard or supportive binder is appropriate,
so that you can write “on your lap.” Keep a low profile.
Computer Generated Work/Word Processed Work/Paper Headings: All papers
must be word processed (typewritten), with no less than a 12 font, space and a half.
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In addition, each paper submitted is required to be labeled with the information below
in the top left hand corner of the first page. Please number each page and staple all
pages together.
Papers will be graded as follows:
o Required Information – 10%
o Conforms to format provided – 10%
o Written content, answers assignment – 50%
o Writing (grammar, spelling, syntax, structure, etc.) – 30%
Developmental Domains/required to focus on for each observation
o Anecdote #1-Physical Development/Large Motor Skills (i.e. pedaling a
tricycle, hopping, skipping, swinging))
o Anecdote #2-Aesthetic Development/creativity (i.e. painting a picture, building
a block structure)
o Anecdote #3-Cognitive Development (i.e. math, science, memory,
cause/effect, following directions)
o Anecdote #4-Social and Emotional Development (i.e. a social interaction
between the child you select and one other child; you may NOT record an
observation between a child and an adult.) Please record the conversation
between the two children. This anecdote may be slightly longer than your first
three anecdotal observations.

• Write verbs in past tense.
• Select ONE preschool-aged child who is 3, 4, or 5 years of age. The child you select
is the focus in your anecdote. Follow the child as s/he moves, if necessary. Quickly
record in sequence all activity and try to quote, word for word, the child’s speech. It
is not necessary to quote a teacher’s comments; just summarize teacher comments.
Your very first sentence in the anecdote needs to identify that the child who is the
primary focus.
• Observe and document in writing a developmentally significant event; keep written
documentation for later use when typing so that you are not pulling from memory.
• A developmentally significant event is representative of the child’s particular age and
stage of development. Typically, a significant event in the child’s day is something
that you would share with the parent/caregiver at the end of the day while discussing
the child’s growth and development.
• Be specific and date each anecdote.
• Times – note beginning time of significant moment.
• The anecdote is one short story, which is organized around a beginning, middle and
end of a story. Some anecdotes may be 15 minutes long (i.e. several sentences)
especially when documenting social interactions and conversations but most will be
2-3 minutes long (i.e. 5-7 sentences.)
• Avoid giving your opinions or making inferences about things like,
o Goodness or badness (instead of saying that the child’s behavior was bad,
state that when the other child grabbed the puzzle, the child reached over and
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o Intentions (instead of saying that the child was waiting for the teacher to notice
him, state without saying a word, the child was quietly standing next to his
o Feelings/Emotions (instead of saying child is mad, state child is stomping feet,

Skill Building:
• Write verbs in present tense
• Include two specific skills that the child is learning as from the documented significant
• Write two complete sentences and identify the domain area (i.e. aesthetic
development; cognitive development/how one thinks and processes information
including language, pre-math concepts, problem solving, cause and effect, memory;
emotional development; physical development/fine motor; physical development/
large motor; self-help skills; social development.)

Subjective Summary:
• Verbs will be written in a mixture of tenses as you share what she did in the past in
order to explain her current skill base
• You, the observer, share your professional opinion about what you observed during
the developmentally significant moment.
• You, the observer, share your professional recommendation for future curriculum
• Stay away from words such a good and great and also stay away from labeling and
diagnosing behavior such as attention-deficit or autism.)

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Sample Anecdotal Assignment

(Set up your assignment using this same format; the sample format in
the syllabus is not correct. You are welcome to copy and paste this
sample into your own word document and then replace the existing
information with your information.)

Last name, first name:
Smith, Laurie
Title of Assignment:
Anecdotal Observation #1
Due Date: Monday, January 25, 2010
Date Turned In:
Monday, February 1, 2010 (late) or Monday, January 25, 2010 (on time)

Name of preschool:

Address of preschool:
Name of head teacher:
Date of visit:
Time of significant event:
Number of adults present:
Number of children present:

Name of child:
Birth date of child:
Age of child including years and months: 4 years and 8 months

Focused on the following developmental domain:

Objective Anecdote: While outside during free choice, Angelica walked over to Daisy and
asked, “Do you want to go swing?” Daisy responded with a big smile on her face, and then
they ran to the swings. With the help of a teacher giving them each some starter pushes,
they both began to pump. Angelica had a big smile on her face as she began to pump. She
looked at Daisy and said, “Look. I’m up so high!” Daisy responded by saying, “Me too.”
They continued swinging on the swings for a few more minutes before moving to another

Skill Building:
In terms of Angelica’s physical development/large motor skills, she is
developing balance and strengthening the large muscles in her arms and legs as she
pumps on the swing. A second skill that Angelica is building is in the area of social
development. The emergence of prosocial behavior is observed as she respectfully invites
the other child to swing and then continues to interact with her in a positive manner during
this interaction.

Subjective Summary:
After observing Angelica swing, it is believed that she has well-developed physical
coordination in the area of her large motor skills as she is able to sustain pumping on the
swing with just a little help from the teacher getting her started. In addition, Angelica
appears to play well with other children as noted when she not only respectfully invited
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another child to swing, but also continued to initiate a conversation with the other child while

In the area of curriculum development, Angelica is encouraged to continue to be provided
with opportunities to socialize with other children. Also, she would continue to progress with
activities that allow her to work on her large motor skills not only with swings but also with
other experiences such as pedaling a tricycle or hopping on one foot.

(If she was not able to swing yet as a four years and eight months, you might say: She is
encouraged to continue to practice swinging with the support of a teacher who can break
down the steps as she teaches her how to pump. If she was only three years old, you might
say: She is encouraged to continue to have positive experiences on the swing with the help
of a teacher putting her on the swing and pushing her. As she grows older, a teacher can
break down the steps as she teaches her how to pump.)

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Use this chart to help you locate skills that the child is developing.
The Creative Curriculum Goals and Objectives at a Glance

Sense of Self
Learning and Problem Solving
-Shows ability to adjust to new situations.
-Observes objects and events with curiosity.
-Demonstrate appropriate trust in adults.
-Approaches problems flexibly
-Recognizes own feelings and manages
-Shows persistence in approaching tasks.
them appropriately.
-Explores cause and effect.
-Stands up for rights.
-Applies knowledge or experience to a new context.

Responsibility for Self and Others
Logical Thinking
-Demonstrates self-direction and
-Classifies objects.
-Takes responsibility for own well being.
-Arranges objects in a series (i.e. sequence/set.)
-Respects and cares for classroom
-Recognizes patterns and can repeat them.
environment and materials.
-Shows awareness of time concepts and sequence.
-Follows classroom routines.
-Uses one-to-one correspondence.
-Follows classroom rules.
-Uses numbers and counting.

Prosocial Behavior
Representation and Symbolic Thinking
-Plays well with other children.
-Takes on pretend roles and situations.
-Recognizes the feelings of others and
-Makes believe with others.
responds appropriately.
-Makes and interprets representations (i.e. be a
-Shares and respects the rights of
symbol for.)
-Uses thinking skills to resolve conflicts.

Gross Motor
Listening and Speaking
-Demonstrates basic locomotor skills (i.e.
-Hears and discriminates the sounds of language.
running, jumping, hopping, galloping.)
-Expresses self using words and expanded sentences.
-Shows balance while moving.
-Understands and follows oral directions.
-Climbs up and down.
-Answers questions.
-Pedals and steers a tricycle (or other
-Asks questions.
wheeled vehicle.)
-Actively participates in conversations.
-Demonstrates throwing, kicking, and

Reading and Writing
catching skills.
-Enjoys and values reading.

Fine Motor
-Demonstrates understanding of print concepts.
-Controls small muscles in hands.
-Demonstrates knowledge of alphabet.
-Coordinates eye-hand movement.
-Uses emerging reading skills to make meaning from
-Uses tools for writing and drawing.

-Comprehends and interprets meaning from books and
other texts.
-Understands the purpose of writing.
-Writes letters and words.
2001 Teaching Strategies, Inc. Washington, DC. Permission is granted to duplicate in programs
implementing The Creative Curriculum.

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Use the following ideas to help you locate more skills that the
child is developing. The developmental domain area (i.e.
physical development, cognitive development, etc.) is not
identified; therefore, you will need to identify the domain area
when selecting skills from below.

What Children Learn from Play

-to develop imagination and creativity.
-hand-eye coordination.
-to distinguish and purposely create shapes.
-to express feelings and ideas.
-that ideas have value.
-relationships of space and size.
-concepts of symmetry, balance, and design.

-to control the small muscles in my hand.
-concepts of shape, size, color, and location.
-to exercise imagination and creativity.

-to hold a pencil or other drawing implement and to control the pressure.
-hand-eye coordination.
-to exercise imagination and creativity.
-that ideas have value.
-Concepts of shape, size, color, and location.

-to exercise imagination and creativity.
-about how colors mix to make new colors (science.)
-concepts and shape, size, color, and location.
-hand-eye coordination.
-an acceptable way to make a mess, and have fun sharing ideas with others who are near.

-to exercise imagination and creativity.
-concepts of shape, size, color and location, and design, relevant to reading.
-about different textures.
-how to create patterns and designs, a math skill.

-to see the shape against the background of the table, a reading skill.
-concepts of shapes, sizes, length, and height.
-to see negative space when cookie cutter shapes are taken away.
-to express feelings, especially negative feelings with squeezing and pounding.
-to exercise imagination and creativity.
-that the amount of a substance remains the same even when the shape changes.

–to exercise my imagination.
–concepts of size, shape, and volume; empty and full.
–how to use tools.
–to solve problems.
–concepts of warm and cool, wet, damp, and dry, heavy and light.
–how to play socially with others.
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–to create own patterns and symbols, reading and writing skills.
–to observe changes, a science skill.

-new vocabulary.
-concepts of texture, color, weight, and size.
-to group objects into categories.
-to observe likenesses and differences.
-to appreciate nature and develop a sense of wonder.

-to notice details, likenesses, differences and to form categories, essential reading and math skills.
-concepts of color, size, and shape.
-numeral concepts of more and less.
-logical reasoning.

-hand-eye coordination.
-concepts of color, shape, and location.
-number concepts like more, less, longer, and shorter.
-to create and reproduce patterns.
-pride in accomplishment.

-one-to-one correspondence, one peg for one hole, a pre-math skill.
-to make and repeat patterns, a pre-math skill.
-concepts of addition as I add one peg at a time.
-symmetry, shapes, order, and design.
-hand-eye coordination.

-about nutrition, tastes, and food groups.
-how heat and cold change things.
-concepts of volume and measure.
-whole-part relationships, math concepts.
-awareness of my own and other cultures.

-concepts of shape, size, length and location, all reading and math skills.
-to create and repeat patterns, a math skill.
-to exercise imagination.
-to express ideas.
-to cooperate with others.
-to solve problems.
-about the properties of wood.
-to see oneself from a different perspective, that of a giant.

-to competently care for own needs.
-to control the small muscles in hands when buttoning and zipping.
-to problem solve.
-to see oneself from a different perspective, that of a capable person.
-self-confidence, as new skills are mastered.
-I can teach others to help themselves.
-awareness of the importance of hygiene when I wash my hands before eating or after toileting.

-strength, balance, and large muscle coordination.
-to use energy in a constructive way.
-concepts of speed, direction, and location.
-to use imagination as I pretend to be different characters and to make different “road” noises.
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Document Outline

  • Writing Skills
  • Subjective Summary:
    • CLDDV 101
  • What Children Learn from Play