I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked to spill how I create these little beauties and the truth is…they’re simple.
But first of all, why do we create them? Well, for a number of reasons actually:
- They show parents & carers the kind of activities that children really engage with
- They reassure parents that children have a sense of belonging and well-being
- They often capture the characteristics of effective learning
- They usually emphasise a particular area of learning and development
- They always show what children say word for word
- They demonstrate that we have a thorough understanding of child development
- They are an opportunity to assess children’s learning and plan next steps
- They are integral to our ongoing personal and professional development as there is a requirement to link what we see and hear to pedagogy.
We use them to complement our observations to give to parents and carers a full picture of each and every child we care for. Our inspiration comes from the ‘learning stories’approach from the New Zealand early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki.
So, how do we create them then? Well, it’s embarrassingly simple really.
Open up a fresh PowerPoint presentation (or google slide).
Apply a blank layout. Now your screen will be a completely white, void oblong. You can change this colour by clicking on Design, then Format Background, then Fill.
Now, I’ve made mine pink. Here’s where you add the boxes. One for your logo, two for your images and quotes. (You might want to tweak these from time to time if, say, you can’t find a quote you like online and you have to type one out yourself).
Click on Insert (to the right of Home) and choose Shapes this time.
Select the shape you want (I use the rounded rectangle) then draw in your 3 boxes -you can tweak them later.
Now, you can either use these boxes to insert pictures or text. To put in text, right click on the box you want to type in, choose Edit Text, then write away. To add your main picture to your main box, right click on the box and click Fill. From the drop-down menu choose Picture. You will be prompted to browse your PC for an image you want to use. Click Browse, find your image, then click Insert. There’s your first box.
Now for the quotes box. Find your quote first and save it to your PC. Then follow the procedure as above. Now you have your observation image and your quote.
For the final box you can either upload your business logo just like you have your images (if you have one) or you can simply add text for your business name etc.
But now you want to annotate your image don’t you with the words children have used during their play? Simple. From the bar across the top go to Insert and choose Text Box. Draw your text box where you want it and then add your text. Add as many text boxes as you like without it taking over your image. This is particularly useful where you want to obscure children’s faces to protect their identity and preserve anonymity.
Save it all as a PowerPoint presentation initially. This will be your pro-forma. Every time you want to create a new one all you will have to do is re-open this original presentation and then right click on each image box to change the picture. Right clicking on the text boxes will let you change your text too.
The important next step to enable you to share it with parents is to save your finished work as an image. To do this, when you go to save it, rather than saving it as a PowerPoint presentation – which it will prompt you to do automatically – underneath the file name, where it says “save as type” click in that box and go down the drop-down menu until you come to “JPEG file interchange format“. Then click “save“. You will be asked which slides you want to import. Choose “just this one”. It is now an image and it is saved where you normally save your stuff. Share at will.
And when you get really good at it, put them all together and make a video and use for ofsted inspections, promotions or to showcase learning journeys for individual children. Have fun!