Saturday, 25 October 2014

Analysis, Reflection and Evaluation in Early Childhood Programming.


Analysis and Evaluation Documentation Ideas for Early childhood educators - Mummy Musings and Mayhem


As early childhood educators we are expected to develop and follow a planning cycle to ensure that all children in our care are supported to follow and extend their learning journey. There are principles, learning outcomes and different guidelines according to where we live that must be taken into account but for the most part it is important that educators develop a planning cycle and method of documentation that suits their own individual style.

You can read more about my own planning cycle here but today I wanted to explore the evaluate and extend part of the cycle as I have been receiving quite a few messages from readers asking for help in this area.

As always with my posts for educators, please remember that I share how I interpret things and how I have previously learnt through my own formal training but also through my own personal experience in different care environments. It may not be what you have been told or what your Director or Coordinator or Scheme requires so you need to be aware of that as you read.

I do always encourage educators to question methods and procedures if they are being forced upon them though. You are a professional and as such have the right to question and seek clarification for the work and processes expected of you. But to do this means coming from a place of knowledge and understanding and confidence in your own planning style and systems so that you can confidently engage in debate.

So you've done your observations on the children in whatever format suits your style...now what? An observation isn't much use to your overall planning if you haven't reflected, asked yourself questions about the observation you recorded and then evaluated the answers. Without this step it is just an observation and that my friends has been a waste of your time. And no one wants that.

So let me break it down for you.....

What does evaluating/analysing an observation mean in simple terms? How do I start?

Well here's what I always ask myself when I reach this step. I learnt to do this over 25 years ago now during my training but I still think the questions are relevant, I have just incorporated a little of the language and context of the Australian EYLF now as well.

 5 questions to ask when you make an analysis of your child observation.


1. What learning took place here? (This is where I now reflect upon the EYLF outcomes and use the language of that document to guide my my responses...not listing specific numbers though.)

2. What strengths and interests can you identify from this observation?

3. Is there anything in this observation that concerns you from a developmental perspective? What can I do to support the child's learning in this area? Who do I need to speak to about this?

4. How could I further support and extend this child's interest/strength/learning journey?

5. Is this learning observation significant - can I plan future experiences from this observation?

I personally think the last question is very significant. There is no point trying to plan your environment and experiences for a group or individual child if the observation or learning that took place isn't meaningful.

When you first start taking observations it can be easy to fall into the trap of writing down every little thing a child does. With experience though you will see that it is more worthwhile to think about what you see happening in front of you first, engage with the child and if you feel it was significant write it down later. 

I like to take lots of photos, I never take notes as i'm not there to just observe every day. A child doesn't want to see someone sitting there with their head down writing notes as they play. They want you to engage and be involved in their play even if that just means knowing you are there watching them and not actually directly involved.

I can hear many of you saying now "But how do I know if it's significant?" (I know, uncanny aren't I? )

Ask yourself....

1. Did I just wish I had the camera with me to capture that moment or did I just take 50 shots of that experience/group/child/activity because it blew me away?

2. Did I want to share that moment with a co - worker or the parent/carer?

3. Did I think of a particular EYLF outcome (or they suddenly made sense) when I saw this particular interaction?

You'll need to think about how you want to document your observation evaluation. Some people do this underneath or beside their observation. I use my forward planning form as I find it easier to keep a sequence going and show clear linking if I keep all steps together. It makes it a little clearer in my mind (and I need that as there is usually so much going on in there lately and frankly I usually do this program step with a glass of wine in hand...!)

It doesn't matter how you do it, just be consistent so you always know where to find the information when you need it.

So now you have a written observation (in the format you prefer e.g learning story, anecdotal, photo collage etc), a review and evaluation from this observation of the learning outcome/strength/ interest that took place....now what do you do with it? You plan and extend!

Still with me? Hang in there, it's not an involved process, I'm just breaking it all down for you into easy to understand steps ( I hope!)

So let's explore how we extend from our observation and evaluation of learning.

6 Questions to ask yourself when planning extension activities


1. How can I further extend this child's learning or interest in this area...where can we go from here?

2. What specific activities could I plan that might fit into the program for not just the individual child but also the group?

3. Do I need to plan for an intentional teaching experience or just provide the environment and resources required?

4. What is my aim by providing these extension activities? (You might like to reflect on the learning outcomes and area here)

5. When do I plan to put this particular extension into the program? 

6. Is this extension a short term or long term goal?

I write a summary answering these questions on my forward planning form and then add to my fortnightly plan in the 'Individual Focus" box. No codes, just the name and extension activity planned. Parents or others reading my plan don't need to see all the specifics, I have the information all in one place on the forward planning form if I need to pull it out.

Ok, final step in the cycle.

Planned Activity Evaluation/Reflection


This is usually pretty brief for me. I come back to my forward planning form, write down the date the extension activities were completed and anything significant I observed. You might ask:

1. Was the child interested in the experiences provided?

2. Did the group join in the planned activity, experience, intentional teaching opportunity? How?

3. What would I try differently next time?

4. Was there any parent feedback or input regarding this experience?

5. Can I extend or further challenge?

6. Were there learning outcomes achieved?

Now you are back to the beginning of the cycle of individual planning! If you are able to keep reading without falling asleep I will take you step by step through how I do the above cycle. But please keep in mind that this is a system I have developed because it works for me. You could do something entirely different but the principles are the same overall.

Ok, deep breath people, stay on your learning journey (ha...see what I did there?) ...here's one I did on one of my own twins as an example for you...I hope it helps.

Step 1 - Do your observation

This is an example of my photo observations - pretty simple, the photos really tell the story.

Analysis and Evaluation Documentation Ideas for Early childhood educators - Mummy Musings and Mayhem


Step 2 - Complete Analysis & Forward Planning

Complete an analysis of the learning observed in your observation - decide whether the observation is significant and  extension would be useful to the child's learning journey. (blue column)

Step 3

Think about and document possible future planning/extension activities (purple column)

Step 4

Plan for when you will provide your extension activities...it might be in one week, it might be over a number of weeks. Make sure you write the dates down. (green column)

Analysis and Evaluation Documentation Ideas for Early childhood educators - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Step 5 - Plan and include on program 

I then add the planned activities into my 'individual focus activities' box. No numbers or codes, just the activities.

Analysis and Evaluation Documentation Ideas for Early childhood educators - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Step 6 - Complete the cycle

When the activities have been completed I go back to my forward planning form and do a short evaluation of the activity/intentional teaching. (yellow column above).

I hope that made sense! If you have any questions just ask in the comments section below.

I'd love to know if you have a similar system or have been struggling in this area!

If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow me on FacebookBloglovin and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes and mayhem!


Warm Wishes...



Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Recycling Fun with Rubbish and Pallets!

You know we love to make play resources from recycled pallets and this one has been on my list for quite some time. Well if I'm honest, not my list, Daddy's list!

He has again made my vision become a reality and says it was one of the easiest of my 'bright ideas'  to build. When I posted a picture of our finished pallet sink a few weeks ago on my facebook page it proved very popular so I promised to share with everyone how we made it.


Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem


I think it turned out beautifully and I had just the right spot in the sandpit ready to go!

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I'm often asked where we get the items we use in our recycle and upcycle projects so I thought I would take you on a little journey through one of our favourite places to visit on a weekend.

I know that probably sounds awful to most of you reading but I just love looking through other peoples trash and finding something I can turn into treasure for very little cost and i personally think it is an important learning journey for children to be involved in to.

We live in such a throw away society at the moment I like to show my girls that you don't always need to go and buy something new. We wander around our local revolve store and talk about what things might have been used for and why people might have brought them to the dump (tip, trash). It's not hard to spend an hour there!


Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Our twins Ruby and Tara love to explore and investigate and tell me how we could use things if we take them home...they are ever hopeful and never see trash, just treasures to be rescued!


The revolve centre is located in a big shed at our local dump. It is an initiative of our local council and houses an eclectic collection of used goods that people have disposed of but that have been rescued from the rubbish pile and offered for sale at usually very reasonable (dare I say cheap!) prices.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem
It's not pretty but serves such an important role in the sustainability practices of our community...and is a magical place for early childhood educators like me!!


There are indoor and outdoor areas and with a bit of creativity and imagination you can find a use for most items there. Some weeks there is a lot to choose from, other weeks not so much but that is the fun of the hunt!

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem
On this particular visit we found this little beauty and my dreams were finally realised...yes I know I really need to get out more but stay with me, it gets more exciting!


We dragged out a few pallets from the stash under the house (doesn't everyone have a stash of pallets under their house?) and began to lay out the pieces.


Doesn't look like much here does it? 

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Let's break construction down to a few easy steps...

Step 1


His patient self took a few boards off another pallet and measured them against the sink length. You'll need two long pieces of pallet timber to form the length and two shorter pieces to form the width.


Step 2


Lay your pieces out to form a frame as shown below, check measurements again


Step 3


The frame should fit the sink easily, test by laying it inside your makeshift frame before screwing your frame together to form a secure tray.




Step 4


Now you will need 4 short pallet lengths and 1 long length to make a frame with legs like the one shown below. Notice that the front boards of this pallet have now been taken off to use. 

Screw together at the legs, the back of the pallet will form your kitchen sink cupboard/splashback.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Step 5


Screw the frame to the standing pallet and you are ready for the final few steps already! His patient self also added a pallet length to the top to form a small shelf and neaten the look a little.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Step 6


Now secure the sink frame you made earlier to the stand and cross your fingers that the sink still fits!

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Drop the sink into the frame and you are ready to 'dress' your sink. We use a bucket under our sink holes if  we are playing with water so we can recycle it onto the garden.

Even if you don't fill the sinks with water though there are so many ways to use this new resource.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Have to say my girls do love to wash their dishes in the sandpit though and who am I to stop this beautiful role play...certainly saves the sudsy mess normally following these same helpers in my own kitchen!

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Yes, I do love it when a plan comes together and yet again we have managed to turn someone else's trash into a little treasure for our backyard playspace.

Building a pallet kitchen sink from recycled materials - Find out how at Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Does your council have a recycle centre where you live?



If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow me on FacebookBloglovin and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes and mayhem!


Warm Wishes...




















Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Children's Cardboard X-ray 'Tablet'

October is Doc-Tober for Disney Junior! Your preschooler can see Doc McStuffins and her toy friends in new episodes on the Disney Junior TV channel and enjoy brand new Doc games and activities on DisneyJunior.com.au.



Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem


My twins have reached an age where they are very interested in their body parts and how things work. They also love playing Doctors and I have to hide a chuckle or two when I hear them say things like "I'm going to fix your head bone now".

To support their learning journey with this interest we look at books of skeletons and muscles, research pictures and facts on the internet and sing songs about the body making sure to incorporate lots of actions requiring certain body part movements. 

The lightbox has been popular and we have been examining skeletons of both animals and people and naming the parts. Even my family daycare toddlers love to do this!

There is also lots of craft but as I am in favour of more process based art activities we don't do a lot of stencil or 'end product' type craft about bones.

However, sometimes it's nice to start a project together and complete it with a set goal in mind. Given that they have been showing such an interest in bones and skeletons and being little Docs lately I decided we could work together to make our very own X-ray tablet using some recycled materials and a little creativity!

Now I know you are wondering if I have lost the plot a little...of course the X-ray tablets aren't real but they are lots of fun to make and seeing the excitement on my girls faces when their x-ray machine lit up pictures of the bones they cut and pasted was just priceless!!

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem


You can place them on a light table for a great effect if you have one but you can also just hold them up to the light outside or near a window and they will work just as well! 

Want to make your own x-ray machine with your budding little Docs? 

Let's do it!

Children's Cardboard X-ray Tablet



Here's what you need....


  • Cardboard - we just cut up some cereal boxes from the recycle bin
  • Scissors
  • Paste
  • Pictures of bones - large enough to fit on an A4 piece of paper
  • Paint for your frame colour
  • White A4 paper


Here's what you do....

Cut out a frame shape from each side of a large cereal box (or plain cardboard) as seen in the photos below. 1 box will make 2 frames which is what you will need to make one x-ray tablet.

Keep the cut out pieces from the middle of the frame to paint or craft with later.

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem



 Neaten up your edges so that one frame fits perfectly on top of the other.



When you are cutting out your frame template ensure that you can fit a piece of A4 paper on top without any gaps.


 Now it's the children's turn...lay out some darker coloured paint, place the frames with the blank cardboard side up on a flat surface and let the the kid's create their masterpiece.

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

My twins started out with purple as it is their favourite colour at the moment, I think their current fascination with Doc McStuffins might be encouraging the love of all things purple and pink!


Apparently though the purple in your sister's paint pot is always better than the one right in front of you!!


Now it's time to cut out some bones! I copied these bone images from some activity slides we have been using on the lightbox but you could also just do a search online and download some skeleton or bone images, paste into a document and then print out...easy and cost effective!

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

My girls love their cutting activities and this one was a nice challenge for them. Tara decided to cut out very precisely around each finger bone while Ruby chose to cut all the way around the picture.

They possibly would have done this all day if I had had  enough bone pictures. Now there's a sentence I didn't think I would ever say!


When your little helpers have finished cutting out (if you have younger children use larger pictures with not as much detail and guide them around the bone outline like Ruby did above) it's now  time to paste!

We pulled out the A4 paper and stuck all the bone pictures down onto the paper, we then left them to dry in the sun

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

When your frames are dry as well as the bone pictures, lay the paper down onto the frame  (which should be lying painted side is down) and has been given a coat of glue....try to get picture lined up in the middle of the frame area if possible.





Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Now lay another piece of paper on top of the bones and paste to frame as before.



We're onto the final step, lay the other frame on top of the white paper and press hard to keep everything flat...you are nearly done!

The picture or drawing of your bones should be sandwiched in the middle of the frame pieces,

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

You could let them decorate their frames any way they want, perhaps with some collage materials, natural materials or some writing or drawing. My girls chose to do theirs just with paint.

Remember to use darker colours to hide any printing or pattern on the cardboard.

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Now the fun part, put on those Doctor coats and hold your x-rays up to the light

Seeing the bones started lots of questions and had me trying to find the answers! Tara wanted to know why she couldn't see her foot bones when she put them over the x-ray tablet.

This project has led to an exploration of the role of radiologists and Doctors which has been interesting, I'm not sure if they totally understand the concept of x-rays as yet but they are well on their way!

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Tara kept trying to make the tablet show her hand bones when she lined them up with the shadow on the x-ray and was adamant it would work because she was a 'real Doctor' now!

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Obviously a clearer, larger  image of bones will create a better result, if you can't find any suitable pictures why not just draw some basic bone outlines freehand.

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

The  girls immediately set up their Doctor's clinic and gave all their toys an x-ray as well as bandaged broken limbs when needed...which apparently was often!. 

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

A moment to check the x-rays and then it's time for the all important diagnoses.

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Then we headed to the other side of the house to catch the last rays of daylight and hold up the tablets which then caught the glow of the setting sun.

Children's Easy Cardboard X-ray Tablet - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I can't wait to see how they play with their x-ray tablets again tomorrow!

What is your child's favourite piece of Doctor equipment to play with?



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Warm Wishes...

This post is part of a Nuffnang native advertising series.
October is Doc-Tober for Disney Junior! Your preschooler can see Doc McStuffins and her toy friends in new episodes on the Disney Junior TV channel and enjoy brand new Doc games and activities on DisneyJunior.com.au.

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