Preschool programs often include lots of hands-on activities that allow the kids to explore concepts. A portfolio is an effective way to capture the learning that takes place through the classroom activities. A variety of samples give a well-rounded view of how each preschool student progresses through the school year.
A three-ring binder works for the preschool portfolio. The binders come in a variety of sizes so you can easily accommodate all that you want to include. Plastic sleeves that go into binders work well for holding student work. Let the kids personalize the front of their binders using paint, markers, stickers and other crafts.
Choose examples of student work that shows their understanding of different concepts. For example, if you're working on sorting, divide a piece of paper in half. Give the kids images that go in two different categories. You might have living and nonliving objects as the two categories. The kids glue each item into the correct category to show their understanding of sorting. Include a note next to each student artifact that explains the objective of the task. You also can include your notes based on observations of the student during the task.
Create checklists for observations such as social skills, fine motor skills, physical development, language skills, pre-reading skills, counting and other concepts. Look at your preschool curriculum when deciding on the skills to include. Fill out the checklists for each student at least two times a year, once at the beginning and once at the end of the school year. Include notes when relevant to expand on the information in the checklists.
Have the students perform the same task each month to show how the child develops. Have each child draw a picture of himself. Start with the first week of preschool. Each month thereafter, have the students again draw a picture of themselves. Date each picture so they stay in the correct order. Compare the differences in the images each month to see how the children grow. In the beginning, they may simply draw a few dots for eyes and a line for a mouth. By the end of the year, the child might draw a circle around the facial features and include a body or other details.
Photos work well for hands-on activities that don't produce a concrete artifact that will fit into a portfolio. Photograph the kids as they perform the tasks. Include information in the captions about the project and how the kids did. The photos also show the physical changes in the kids from the beginning to the end of the school year, making the portfolio more personal and interesting to the families.
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