Kei Tua o te Pae

Kei Tua o te Pae/Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars is a best practice guide that will help teachers continue to improve the quality of their teaching.

The exemplars are a series of books that will help teachers to understand and strengthen children's learning. It also shows how children, parents and whānau can contribute to this assessment and ongoing learning.

We are making improvements to our Download to Print functionality, so if you want a printed copy there are pdf versions available at the bottom of the main cover page.

Licensing Criteria Cover

Relationships – Ngā hononga

Effective assessment practices reflect reciprocal and responsive relationships with people, places, and things.

What to look for:

  • Assessments that are conversations between learner, peers, teachers, and families about the learning in progress
  • Adult assistance and teaching as part of assessments
  • Peer assistance and teaching as part of assessments
  • Documented assessments that reflect opportunities to learn what is valued (the roles of people, places, and things)
  • Documented assessments that build on and construct informal everyday interactions and vice versa.

Reflecting on our practice

How can teachers make space and time for reciprocal assessment “conversations” with families and whānau in our setting? How might some of these be documented?

Discuss the occasions when, in our setting, assessments have made visible instances of children assisting each other. (For example, see “Toddlers as teachers” and “Bella and Nina dancing”)

Assessments will document what is valued in our setting. Discuss some assessments and record the learning that is valued in them.

Do the assessments in our setting give details of the opportunities to learn? (For example, the learning contexts in “Mana reo” are very clearly described).

  • Bella and Nina dancing
    • Child playing with a poi

      Bella has been dancing with her friends at playcentre. Her little sister, Nina, approaches the dancing. She seems very interested in the poi. Nina picks up the poi and begins to explore its movement.

      Child playing with a poi

      In this photo, Nina has dropped the poi and is working with a flag and castanets. The older children are dancing behind her. She seems very involved.

      Two children playing

      Nina swings the poi from a small height. The older children continue to dance around the deck.

      Children playing

      Nina decides that she will participate in the dancing. She waves her flag to the music. The older children wave their streamers.

      The family connection is very important here. Nina may not have chosen to participate as readily if her older sister had not been close by. Bella has played a role in inducting Nina into the playcentre by being a safe and known person who could help Nina become involved. Bella and Nina have a new sibling on the way. Next it will be Nina’s turn to nurture and create a sense of belonging for another.

  • A shadow came creeping
    • Story one (written by Caroline)

      Jo was settling a child by reading to him. Jo’s expressive language caught Bede’s attention.

      He moved over to sit beside Jo and Charlie. He began to point to the pictures with “oohs” and “ahs” and saying “cat”, “mouse”, and “shadows”. When Jo had finished reading, Bede brought the book over to me. We sat together and read.

      Whenever I said “a shadow came creeping”, Bede would go “Ooh, shadow!” and laugh.

      I saw Bede with the book several times during the morning.


      Bede’s interest in books is shown in this story. He chooses to sit with Jo, then continues the exploration of this particular story with me.

      [Reference: Judy Waite (1998). “Mouse, Look Out!” Mascot, NSW: Koala Books.]

      Bede's parent's voice

      Child's name: Bede

      Date: 27/02/02

      Teacher: Caroline

       Examples or cues

      Whānau voice

      Taking an Interest


      Mana whenua

      Finding an interest here – a topic, an activity, a role. Recognising the familiar, enjoying the unfamiliar. Coping with change.

      Just Bede and Mum went to Memorial Park for some quality time together.

      We discussed our shadows and waved and chased them. When Bede first discovered his shadow a few weeks ago he got quite a fright and tried to run away from it saying “no shadow, go away”. He is now happy to show you where his shadow is and says “goodbye shadow” when he has had enough of the game.

      We also discovered that if you talk, and in Bede's case, yell, down a long tunnel you get an echo. He loves this and we spent ages going to all the tunnels and yelling down them.

      He is still grasping the concept that there needs to be a tunnel and every now and then he just yells and says “echo”. I have to remind him that he is just shouting rather than creating an echo.

      Our next stage is to go to the library and get some books on both subjects, talk about them some more and find new ways of exploring them.

      Being Involved


      Mana atua

      Paying attention for a sustained period, feeling safe, trusting others. Being playful with others and/or materials. 

      Taking Responsibility


      Mana tangata

      Responding to others, to stories, and imagined events, ensuring that things are fair, self-evaluating, helping others, contributing to programme.

      Expressing an Idea or a Feeling


      Mana reo

      In a range of ways (specify). For example: oral language, gesture, music, art, writing, using numbers and patterns, telling stories. 

      Persisting with Difficulty


      Mana aotūroa

      Setting and choosing difficult tasks. Using a range of strategies to solve problems when ‘stuck’ (be specific).

      Story two (written by Kim)

      Bede walked up to me today with a book called Mouse, Look Out! He handed it to me, saying, “Shadows, shadows.” I assumed that someone during the week had read this book to Bede. We sat down together and read the book, looking for the cat and the mouse. I would ask Bede where the shadows were. “Shadows, shadows,” he would say.

      During the day, on a number of occasions, I heard Bede saying, “Shadows, shadows,” and saw him sitting down reading the book to himself. When Darren, Bede’s dad, came to collect him, I asked him if he’d like to take the book home as Bede had shown a real interest in this story and in shadows.

      The next day, Bede and Tania brought the book back, sat down, and read it together. Tania said that they had read it many times and were going to explore shadows in the weekend.


      Over the day, Bede showed a fascination with a new concept, “shadows”. The interest was sparked by an expressive story. We should look for some more books based on similar concepts. In everyday activities, we can extend Bede’s understanding of shadows.

  • Toddlers as teachers
    • Story one

      Tenaya (twenty months) is sitting in a high chair with her lunchbox on the table beside her. Tyler-Jackson (twenty-seven months) opens Tenaya’s lunchbox and offers her raisins. She shakes her head. He offers her yoghurt.

      She nods and reaches out with both hands.

      Tyler-Jackson struggles but takes off the oil top and puts it on the high chair tray.

      He then walks towards the cupboard, saying, “Soon, soon.”

      “Tyler, do you want a spoon?” He nods and points to Tenaya. I give Tyler the spoon and say, “Did you give Tenaya her yoghurt and open it for her?” He nods, walks towards Tenaya and says, “No figas” fingers), takes the yoghurt off the tray, gives the spoon to Tenaya, and then puts the yoghurt back on the tray and says “Soon, soon.”

      Short-term review

      • taking responsibility for others;
      • met the needs of another before his own;
      • followed a sequence of events: opened the lunchbox, offered choices, opened the yoghurt, and got a spoon.

      What next?

      • Allow older children to assist Tyler and Tyler to assist them.
      • Encourage Tyler to follow requests and offer plenty of reinforcement for any efforts.

      Story two

      Tenaya walks over to Sean in the high chair and “gabbles” at him. She then gives him his lunchbox, opens it, and takes out the raisins. Sean holds out his hands. Tenaya says, “Raisins?” Tenaya opens the box and takes out three raisins and puts them on the tray in front of Sean. (She has some difficulty, but she succeeds.)

      When Sean has taken the three raisins, she gives him more, puts the box of raisins back in Sean’s lunchbox, and pulls out the sandwiches wrapped in plastic wrap.

      She rips open the plastic wrap. She separates one sandwich and gives it to him.

      Short-term review

      • Tenaya is responding to the needs of another.
      • She selects items for Sean and gives more when he is finished.
      • She problem-solves by ripping the plastic wrap.

      What next?

      • Encourage this interdependency by allowing Tenaya to assist others and by encouraging others to assist her.
      • Acknowledge all acts of kindness among babies and toddlers.
      • Include games with choices.
  • Mana reo
    • Assessment One

      • Amokura is now using two-word sentences and is on the verge of extending them to three or four. Her favourite sentence at the moment is “He inu māku.”
      • When she is given simple instructions in Māori, Amokura has a great understanding of what is being said: “Tangohia ōu hū ki waho” and “Horoia ōu ringaringa.”

      Amokura enjoys karakia each morning. She will stand up patiently and listen as a whaea runs through her pepeha.

      Curly-haired child with teacher

      Amokura enjoys either having a book read to her or sitting on the cushions reading through a book on her own.

      Curly-haired child reading a book 

      Amokura loves waiata, her favourite songs being “Hei Tira Tira”, “Pūrerehua”, “Kei raro i te Moana” and “Tita Tita”. Her best performance is with the award-winning haka stance in “Ka Mate”.

      Curly-haired child singing

      • Amokura has learned the other children’s names very well and can put the name to a face. Mimicking the other children has helped her pronunciation. Her favourites are “Koouuuu” (Kohu), “Kawakawa”, “Poowai” (Te Puawai), and “Baea” for the attention of the closest whaea. And she has finally learned how to say “Whaea Bernie”. YEAH BABY!!!!
      • Amokura has a great sense of humour and can often be heard having a giggle with either the staff or other children.
      Links to Te Whāriki

      “Toddlers have plenty of opportunities to talk with other children, to play verbal games, and to encounter a widening range of books, songs, poems, and chants.” (page 71)

      Needs identified

      Amokura needs to maintain and extend her current language level.

      1. Read a book to her at least once a day.
      2. Encourage her to kōrero as much as possible.
      3. Use repetition and try to encourage her to repeat after us where appropriate.
      4. Introduce new waiata.

      Assessment Two

      Tohenga tuarua

      “Children experience an environment where they develop verbal communication skills for a range of purposes.” (Te Whāriki, page 42)

      • Amokura can say her pepeha almost right through without assistance.
      • She has a good understanding of te reo Māori, showing us by either attending to the task asked of her or answering the question, often using a mix of bilingual sentences and full sentences in Māori. (Her preference is Māori.)
      • Amokura is also starting to use more complex sentence structures, such as “Ka taea e koe ki te hua” (huakina) as she was passing me her chippies to open.
      • She recognises the names of body parts or items in books.
      • Amokura is able to express her feelings or needs verbally – and non-verbally, I might add, by stamping her feet and giving you her look of disapproval!
      • She enjoys singing and doing all the actions, her favourite songs being “Pūrerehua” and “Te Tereina”.
      Developing skills

      Increasing language skills: repeating patterns, practising different vowel and consonant sounds.

      Pre-reading skills: recognition, pointing, naming, telling the story from the pictures she sees, holding the book up the right way, often reading from the middle to the front then back to the end.

      Responding to and recognising rhythm: remembering the actions to the waiata ā ringa or stamping to the beat of the drum.

      It has really been awesome to see and hear Amokura’s reo develop over the past few months, an area which I feel that she has excelled in.

      Needs identified

      To continue to encourage and enhance Amokura’s current language level.

      1. To encourage Amokura to use as much Māori as she can, providing the kupu and/or phrases where needed.
      2. To encourage her to repeat the kupu and/or phrases after us.
      3. To continue to read to Amokura as often as possible throughout the day, prompting questions that require a detailed answer (not “yes” or “no” ones).
      4. To continue to encourage her interest in music by going over our latest waiata and introducing a few new waiata.
      5. To continue to encourage her to say her own pepeha all the way through without assistance.