Preschool Documentation Ideas

Michele Meleen
Girl holding up her painting

Communicate each child's learning process and learning style with students and parents through unique preschool documentation ideas. Look for ways to create visual displays of your preschoolers' education and development that can be displayed at school, shared at open house events and meetings, and treasured at home as keepsakes.

Ideas for Preschool Learning Documentation

Meaningful learning documentation for the preschool curriculum often focuses more on images of and conversations with each three or four-year-old child. Since kids in this age group aren't writing much on their own yet, you can supplement these materials with your accounts of the activities or topics. Preschool documentation should be useful, but it should also be interesting and exciting to look at.

Photo Timeline

Involve the kids in a sequencing activity where each kid can organize images of himself along a timeline.

  1. Give each child a piece of cardboard, a glue stick, and the bulletin board border strip.
  2. Kids can glue the border strip horizontally down the center of the cardboard to create the timeline base.
  3. Give each student four to six images where they are engaged in a process such as a science experiment or learning to write their name.
  4. Ask kids to place the images in the correct order along the timeline.
  5. Kids can then glue the images in place on the timeline.
  6. With help from a teacher, students can add dates, comments, or even writing samples to go along with each image.

Topic Mobile

Mobiles are fun to make and engage preschoolers in a creative art activity. You'll need scissors, a single hole punch, drawing supplies or magazines to cut up, string, and a coat hanger for each child.

  1. Kids start by drawing or selecting images that represent their ideas and skills from the chosen topic.
  2. Students then cut out each image close to the edges of it.
  3. Kids can punch a single hole in the top of each image.
  4. Students then cut different lengths of string for each image.
  5. Kids thread one end of a string through the hole in the image and tie a knot (or tape it together if they can't tie).
  6. Students thread the other end of that string over the edge of the coat hanger and tie a knot.
  7. The end result is a hanging mobile that can be hung from the ceiling.
Girl with homemade mobile

Bulletin Board Storybook

Turn your classroom bulletin board into a giant 3D picture book that represents each child on a separate page. Parents and kids will be able to explore each child's learning process by turning the pages of this big book.

  1. Cut several pieces of bulletin board paper into equal vertical rectangles that will fill about three-quarters of the center of your bulletin board when stacked.
  2. Give each child one piece of the cut paper and art supplies like markers, stickers, glue, scissors, and photos of them engaged in learning.
  3. Ask each student to fill the front of their page with images that show how they felt or thought before learning about a specific topic.
  4. Once dry, ask each student to fill the back side of their page with images that show what they learned, thought, or felt after exploring the topic.
  5. Create a cover for this giant book.
  6. Stack all the kids' pages on top of each other, then place the cover on top.
  7. Use long tacks, staples, or small nails to attach the whole book to the center of your bulletin board by tacking vertically down the left side of the book.
  8. Poke a large hole through the center, right side of each page, including the cover.
  9. Attach a small hook to the bulletin board under the last page of the book so holes in the right side of the book can be placed on the hook. This holds the book closed.
  10. Open the cover and attach a small hook to the bulletin board under the cover so the hole can be placed on the hook. This holds each page open.

Classroom Cam

All you need is a video camera and internet connection to give parents the chance to watch their kids in action during the school day. You can do a live feed of the whole class or give each student a different day and time for their individual live video where you focus the camera only on that child and share the link only with their family.

  1. Set up a live feed video camera in your classroom during a time most parents will be on lunch break or during a specific activity.
  2. Make sure you have the settings on a private mode.
  3. Announce the date and time of your live feed on a flyer for parents with information on how to access it.
  4. Share the link with parents and only they will be able to view your feed.
  5. Be sure to record the feed and email the file to parents requesting it.

My Jar of Memories

Little kids love collecting things and often remember exactly where each item came from. Capitalize on this unique form of storing memories with a learning memory jar.

  1. Give each child a large, clean, clear glass jar that has a lid at the start of the year.
  2. Give kids a chance to decorate their jar any way they choose.
  3. Throughout the day, week, unit of study, or year let kids add anything they want to their memory jar.
  4. Encourage students to take keepsake items such as leftover supplies from each activity or learning experience.
  5. At the end of your pre-selected time period, display the jars so kids can share their memories as prompted by the items they've collected.

My Year MP3 Player

Audio clips of preschoolers are priceless because kids say so many funny and thoughtful things while they're exploring the world.

  1. Have each parent provide a kid-friendly MP3 player as part of their child's school supplies. If you have a large enough classroom budget, purchase one for each student.
  2. Keep a digital recorder handy and record children playing, learning, and singing.
  3. Throughout the school year, add recordings of each individual child to their own MP3 player.
  4. At the end of each study unit and the year, give the MP3 players back to the families for a listen.
Adult recording little boy

Recollection Performance

Give kids a chance to look back on fun memories and act out their learning process with a recollection performance.

  1. During an activity or play session, write a transcript of what the kids are saying.
  2. Revisit this activity another day by asking students to role-play what happened during that event.
  3. Encourage kids to remember the activity in their own way and act it out alone, using only their part, or as a group who did the activity together.
  4. If they have trouble remembering or ask for help, you can read some of the transcript as a prompt.
  5. Do this performance live or record it on video.

Classroom Comic Strip

After kids work in pairs or small groups of three, have them create a fun comic strip to capture the steps and memories of the activity.

  1. Do an audio recording of each pair as they work or play.
  2. Give each child a blank piece of paper with comic strip-style boxes on it.
  3. Plug headphones into the recording device or upload the audio onto computers and let the kids listen with headphones.
  4. As each child listens to the recording, they should draw cartoon images to illustrate what they're hearing.
  5. If you want to enhance the drawings, you can type out the script, cut out each line, and add them to the appropriate boxes of the comic strip.

A String of Feelings

Give preschoolers the chance to show how movies, sounds, stories, or music makes them feel with a simple art activity. This will get messy, so it's a good idea to give kids art shirts and cover their work surface is plastic.

  1. Listen to a piece of music once.
  2. Give each kid some yarn and scissors. Ask them to cut some pieces long and some pieces short in any colors that remind them of the song you just listened to.
  3. Give each child a bowl filled with white glue.
  4. Turn on the music again and ask kids to dip their yarn in the glue then form it on the paper in any way the music moves them.

Learning Sculpture Park

Turn large shoe boxes into mini sculpture parks that showcase your preschooler's learning journey. You'll need modeling clay or other types of sculpting materials that dry hard, glue, and a shoe box with no lid.

  1. As your child explores a specific topic, ask her to sculpt things that illustrate what she's learning.
  2. Once each sculpture dries, your child can glue it in the shoe box.
  3. When your child is done exploring the topic, she'll have a box full of mini sculptures that show what she's learned.
Clay doll sculpture in cardboard box

What Is Preschool Classroom Documentation?

Learning documentation is one way of showing the learning process of each individual child. Documentation includes things students and parents can see and touch that explain events, experiences, and development. Teachers use learning documentation to show a child's growth and achievements. Learning documentation is important because it helps students, teachers, and parents communicate effectively and grow as individuals.

Basic Learning Documentation Ideas

These materials should be engaging and show the whole story behind how or why something happened. Simple documentation examples include:

  • Classroom photo albums
  • Individual child portfolios
  • Student art displays
  • Classroom newsletters and notes from the teacher
  • Time-lapse videos of the learning process

Tell the Whole Story

Using varied preschool learning documentation ideas helps teachers, students, and caregivers see the whole picture of the who a child is and how he learns. Go beyond progress reports and teacher conferences to find creative ways of sharing a child's whole educational experience.

Preschool Documentation Ideas