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.

Belonging in a particular early childhood setting

  • Jedd's increasing participation
    • At 5 months of age Jedd is able to express his wants and needs verbally. He will cry when hungry, tired or when he wants to be picked up. He will laugh and smile when spoken or sung to, showing his delight to his teachers Nadine (primary caregiver) and Shaz.

      Jedd can sit unassisted for brief periods and will reach out purposely for objects, sometimes bringing his hands together to grasp objects. Jewellery and people’s faces are of special interest to Jedd.

      Jedd recognises familiar people, showing his recognition and excitement by shaking his head, waving his arms, through his facial expressions and by vocalising.

      At the same time that Jedd is communicating more actively with the adults around him, Nadine and Shaz notice that Jedd has started to show a new awareness of the other children he shares the under-twos area with. His new-found physical skills are supporting his interest as he is able to reach out and touch others more than ever before.


      Infant playing with another infant

      Recently Jack has begun showing an interest in interacting with Jedd. Jedd is just beginning to gain confidence with Jack and the other children being near him without an adult nearby. Jedd enjoys Jack’s smiles and language and responds by reaching out to touch Jack.

      Infant boy playing with toys

      Jedd is gradually gaining confidence in being on his tummy. Jedd plays a game with the ball, sharing with us his pleasure in discovering the sounds and movements the ball makes.

      Jedd’s teachers discuss their observations of Jedd and decide to provide experiences for Jedd that will challenge him physically. They also plan to support Jedd to play near or interact with other children. Gradually Jedd builds trust and confidence in playing near other children.

      Twio infants playing on a purple cushion Infant boy looking at picture book

      Jedd is involved in a shared story with other children.

      Infant playing with block set Infant playing with block set

      Things that interest Jedd are placed strategically near him to encourage him to use his body to support himself while on his tummy.

      At 7 months of age Jedd regularly participates in small-group experiences.


      Jedd participated in our music session this morning. He sat very contentedly amongst his friends, observing Nadine who was singing a song about butterflies. He watched, mesmerised, as Nadine waved the coloured butterflies around the children, including Jedd. His eyes grew bigger as Nadine landed a butterfly on his knee. He was quick to pick the butterfly up while still keeping a close eye on Nadine. Jedd reached up with the butterfly as if he was going to mouth it but seemed more fascinated with Nadine who was continuing to sing and float the butterflies around.

      The next day we used the butterflies and sang the same song to follow up on Jedd’s interest. Again he was mesmerised by this experience and cried when Nadine started to put the butterflies away in the box so we gave them to Jedd to play with until he was satisfied.

      Jedd’s interactions with other children are becoming longer and Jedd now uses more strategies to interact with them and adults, for example, his expanding verbal skills, in combination with his non- verbal skills.


      This morning, Jedd was sitting on the rug and busily playing with the stacking rings when Nadine laid Elizabeth next to him. Jedd looked at her and Elizabeth started smiling, and they watched each other for ages. They shared beautiful smiles and conversation.


      Jedd can now support himself with confidence. He is able to make his body move more freely to reach the objects and people that interest him. Nadine recorded some of these events in a learning story.

      A learning story

      Belonging - mana whenua

      Recently Jedd had begun to enjoy spending time on his tummy. Today, when most of the children were outside, I put Jedd on the floor without setting up toys around him and left him, explaining that I was going to get Harrison changed, then I would return.

      Well-being - mana atua

      When I came back, I saw for one of the first times Jedd showing confidence and happiness with being on his tummy. Looking around eagerly to see what he could reach, he found a push along frog. Stretching out he grabbed hold of it and moved it from side to side. Looking very pleased with himself as he experimented with manoeuvring this toy, he was moving backwards without realising.

      Exploration - mana aotūroa

      I continued with other things, watching Jedd with interest, intrigued as to what he would do next. Occasionally, he would rest his head on the floor, then on hearing my voice, he would quickly look up, smile, laugh, and kick his legs. It was as if he was saying “Look at me and what I’m doing!”

      Communication - mana reo

      Reaching out for toys Jedd continued to manoeuvre himself around on his tummy. As he came across different toys, he somehow managed to keep hold of or come back to the same push along frog toy.

      Contribution - mana tangata

      Another interesting moment was when Jedd found himself at the edge of the carpet, where there is a wooden strip of floor before the next piece of carpet begins. At this point there was a metal car. Jedd discovered that it was great to bang the car on the strip of wood, listen to the noise and then compare it to the sound the car made on the carpet. Squealing with delight and vocalising the whole time, he was expressing his enjoyment in his own initiated activity.


      Jedd spent at least 30 mins on the floor on his tummy.

      He appeared to thrive on this opportunity for freedom and space to explore and develop his physical skills.

      Jedd is rapidly gaining confidence in and control of his body.

      Infant boy playing with toys Infant boy playing with toys

      22 November

      Wow! Jedd is now crawling. It took such a short time for him to develop the necessary motor skills – from becoming confident on his tummy to gaining control on his tummy (e.g., getting onto his front independently and sitting back up) to moving on his hands and knees.

      26 November

      Jedd has been very confident crawling today, everywhere! He is really starting to explore the environment, enjoying his new mobility. He is definitely very excited and proud of himself, panting, vocalising and smiling as he crawls along. This morning during music he was able to move away from the group to get closer to the tape player, following his curiosity as he tried to find out where the music was coming from.

      Back in our room, he followed some children across the room to the beds, watching with interest what they were doing.

      Jedd smiles back at Rosie who is enjoying giving him a gentle push. Rosie has taken a special interest in Jedd recently becoming a very kind friend to him.

      Two infants playing with indoor swing-set

      Jedd’s interest in other children is growing and he is beginning to develop another friendship, this time with Elizabeth. Where previously Jedd had enjoyed Elizabeth pushing him while in the swing, he is now able to approach her to initiate play.

      5 December

      Jedd has had a great day. He has become very fond of Elizabeth, crawling over to her at any chance he could and talking to her and touching her face while they both smiled.

      Jedd is now also initiating and taking the lead during play with teachers.

      When Jedd finished his bottle this afternoon he sat up smiling and saying “Dad, dad, dad” while looking at the song posters on the wall. I began to sing, “See how I’m jumping,” and Jedd bounced on my knee, laughing with a real chuckle. Once finished, I asked him if we should sing it again. Jedd bounced eagerly, like “Yes, yes,” many times over.

      13 December

      Jedd was very interested in the balls this morning. After he had been sitting playing with one, he threw it to me, initiating a game between the two of us. When I threw it back, Jedd would smile and laugh and throw it straight back. This went on for ages.

      Jedd also started some pretend play this morning. Twice he pretended to feed me with different objects. The first time was with a spoon and the next with a toy elephant; holding it to my mouth, he made eating noises and smiled.

      Jedd’s teachers recognise Jedd’s growing communication skills. They see how these new skills are supporting his interactions with other children and with them, and they recognise their role in utilising any opportunities they see to allow him to practise the new words he is beginning to use, as well as his growing range of non-verbal skills. Some of these times were recorded in his profile book.

      After the Christmas break, Nadine and Shaz noticed a big change in Jedd. Usually it had been other children initiating play or interactions with Jedd, but in the month or so before the holidays they noticed how gradually he had started initiating these. Now after the holidays, at 11 months of age, Jedd is able to confidently play a part in a small group.


      Wow Jedd has grown so much over the Xmas break! It has been great to see him again and he seems happy to be back with his friends. A favourite game at the moment seems to be a “ta” game, where he shares toys with me and other children. When we were playing with the cars and planes today (with Elizabeth and Jimmy), Jedd would make car noises and then copied an aeroplane noise that I made, showing the others what to do.

      Jedd’s involvement in dramatic play has continued to develop in the past two months, as shown in the following example when Jedd is playing with his friend Elizabeth. He is also pulling himself up to stand a lot more recently.


      Jedd was standing at Elizabeth’s high chair, role- playing feeding her with Elizabeth responding beautifully by playing along with Jedd’s game.

      From their observations of Jedd’s and other children’s involvement in dramatic play, the teachers decide to shift some of the equipment around to form a home-like dramatic play area for the children to support their play. This area included highchairs for feeding “babies” and opportunities to use water with the tea set. Water was provided outside for the children to wash and bath “babies”.

      A Learning Story

      Robert was the first to arrive this morning, noticing the newly set up family play area almost immediately.

      Becoming deeply involved in play with the tea set, Robert was very busy using a spray bottle (a very important tool in Robert’s play) to “pour” into the cups, drinking from the cups himself and offering them to Lisa (another teacher) and to me by placing the cup onto a saucer and carrying them over to us carefully.

      When Chris arrived he joined Robert at the table, giving him a gleaming smile before playing alongside him and with him at times, giving each other drinks they had stirred.

      After a while Jedd joined Chris and Robert, smiling at them as he used the spoons to stir in the cups and talking and watching the others.

      After a few minutes, Jedd decided it was time to “unset” the table by sweeping it all onto the floor!

      While Jedd’s teachers take action to support his dramatic play, they also recognise his growing repertoire of interests in the programme and how his ever-increasing mobility supports this.

      Jedd’s enthusiasm and delight for music grow every day as he confidently participates in our music times. To introduce music this morning Shaz used the big purple bird puppet to sing “Hello”. Jedd smiled and laughed eagerly when the puppet went close to him and we sang his name. We were singing “What do you think my name is?”


      Jedd’s interest in music continues. This week Jedd especially loved singing and doing peek-a-boo with scarves, moving the scarf up over his face and down again. Another favourite is listening to “Peace Like a River” while lying down underneath a big blue moving scarf. Jedd lay down after watching the other children, moving himself closer to the group.

      In this story and as seen in the story with Robert and Chris playing with the tea set, Jedd is beginning to use strategies to make sense of group experiences. Nadine and Shaz notice how Jedd first watches other children before copying what they do.

      At 13 months of age Jedd is practising walking, supporting himself with equipment or furniture to do this. Jedd’s teachers make sure these objects are available to Jedd at all times. Within the following group story it is evident how Jedd uses the outdoors equipment to support himself as he explores the environment.

      A Learning Story

      Playing outside has become very popular, with the children enjoying the freedom of the large space, initiating and choosing their own interests. This morning was a prime example.

      Harry went over to the storage box and implied to me that he wanted something out. “What would you like, Harry?” I asked. At this point James rushed over saying “bike”. As I opened the lid they both waited patiently for the bikes to come out.

      Jedd enjoyed practising walking by holding onto the back of a bike and pushing it along – looking very proud of himself as he did so. As he drove the bike along he came across a tin hanging from a tree at perfect standing height for him. He stopped for a while, banging the tin with his hand and smiling and singing still, while holding onto the bike with his other hand for support. He later went on to play peek-a-boo in the big cube.

      From being able to explore the wider environment of the centre by his own means, other children and teachers help Jedd to explore environments outside the centre. On an outing Rosie, Jedd’s friend, shows how she is able to take special responsibility for him.

      A Learning Story

      Our Friday afternoon walk

      Rosie amazed us by very confidently walking the whole way holding onto Jedd’s pram. Every now and then she talked to Jedd enthusiastically, telling him about what she could see. Rosie was very proud to be walking with Jedd and introduced him to people walking past! She took on a sense of responsibility for Jedd, giving him a walnut to look at when we stopped to look at them and letting us know when his hat dropped, etc.

      As we walked along the path beside the river behind the school Rosie spotted some children playing in the schoolyard. As she ran up to the fence chatting away Rosie made sure that Jedd saw the children too by turning around to tell him, pointing at them.

      Sarah and Jack sat in the double buggy together, playing wee games and communicating to one another. Jack was in front so he took responsibility for pointing things out to Sarah as he came across them, smiling and talking.

      Jedd was very excited about being in the buggy, waving his arms and kicking his legs about. He thoroughly enjoyed Rosie’s attention, showing this again later by responding to Rosie at the afternoon tea table, touching and talking to her excitedly.

      On the final part of our walk we stopped at the side of the river to throw bread to the ducks. Rosie would tear the bread up and throw it over her shoulder to the ducks, jumping up and down with excitement. An enjoyable walk for all!

  • Suelisa's sense of belonging part 1
    • Child’s name: Suelisa

      Date: 19 February

      Teacher: Karen

          Examples or cues

      A Learning Story


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

      Recently Suelisa has been unhappy when she comes to kindergarten. She has just started morning sessions and due to sickness has not been coming regularly.

      Today Suelisa was upset when it was time to say goodbye to her dad. I gave her a big hug and took her to the book corner. Tama joined us and chose stories for me to read to Suelisa and him.

      I asked Suelisa if she would like to stick the photos of her family into her file. Suelisa said, “Yes,” and we went and found her file. Together, we stuck her photos in and I wrote beside each photo. Other children came and watched and this gave Suelisa the opportunity to share her family with her friends.
      Suelisa was smiling from ear to ear and carried her file around with her for the rest of the session. Suelisa showed her file at mat time, while I explained the pictures.


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

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

      Mana reo
      Expressing an Idea or a Feeling In a range of ways (specify). For example: oral language, gesture, music, art, writing, using numbers and patterns, telling stories. 

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

      Child being held by adult Child getting on a bus with three adults

      Photos of Suelisa’s dad and brothers.

      Two girls reading a book together 

      Suelisa sharing her file with Jane.

      Short-term review

      It was great to see Suelisa smiling today. Using photos of her family at kindergarten has begun to create a sense of belonging for her.

      What next?

      It’s important that Suelisa comes to kindergarten every day so that she can form friendships; this will give her a greater sense of belonging.

      Encourage Suelisa to choose her own activities by giving her choices.

      Suelisa has also shown a great interest in the video camera. We could use this tool to replay Suelisa’s play to her and to add photos to her file so she can take it home and share her fun times at kindergarten with her family. 

      Child’s name: Suelisa

      Date: 21 February

      Teacher: Karen

      A Learning Story

      Girl arranging a file

      Today, Suelisa brought her file back to kindergarten.

       Girl arranging a file

      We had a look at the photos of her brothers and when it was time to say goodbye to her dad there were a few tears. However, Suelisa’s sadness was short-lived as there were more of her friends wanting to look at her file. 

      Girl arranging a file

      Today, Suelisa chose her own activities. She worked close by me with her file not far away.

      Girl arranging a file

      Suelisa had lots of fun doing puzzles and a painting. In between puzzles Suelisa checked out her file and arranged her front picture again.

      Girl drawing at table outside

      Short-term review

      It is great to see Suelisa feeling happy at kindergarten.

      Yesterday Suelisa wasn’t keen to choose her own activity and when I offered options she shook her head – “No!” Today I feel Suelisa had a greater sense of belonging, perhaps because she had her file with her. This has empowered Suelisa to choose her own activities and work independently.

      What next?

      Continue to use Suelisa’s file as a tool to further develop her sense of belonging.

      Suelisa to take her file home and share her stories with her family.

      Give Suelisa time to direct her own learning. It is OK for Suelisa to watch the other children playing. She will know when she is ready to join their play.

      Child’s name: Suelisa

      Date: 22 February

      Teacher: Karen

      A Learning Story

      Four children playing with toys

      Today after mat time Suelisa wanted to hold my hand. I said, “You can’t hold my hand because I need to help Lachlan but you can hold your file.” Suelisa went and got her file and continued to watch Eric and Lachlan. 

      Three children doing artwork

      A while later I turned around and spotted Suelisa in the block corner, watching her friends. I noticed that she had left her file behind.

       Two children playing with toys

      I went and helped Suelisa to join the group by role modelling the words to use, “Can I play?”

      Three children playing with toys

      Suelisa joined the small group and continued to play with Andrew for quite some time. They took turns and shared the fun of watching the marbles go down the run. Other children joined the group and Suelisa included them in her play, making sure everyone had enough marbles.

      Short-term review

      It was fantastic to see Suelisa choosing her own activity and being fully involved in a small group. (Te Whariki, Contribution, Goal 3.1)

      Suelisa’s sense of belonging is growing each day and it is great to see her smiling and having fun with her friends at kindergarten. She is now taking a more active role in the programme.

      What next?

      Continue to foster and strengthen Suelisa’s sense of belonging.

      Continue to use her file as a tool to develop a stronger relationship with Suelisa.

      Suelisa may like to play the marble game again with her friends.

      March - A Learning Story

      Two girls reading a book together

      Suelisa is reading the puppet book, and Tapaita is reading Suelisa’s file.

      Two girls reading a book together 

      Suelisa shows Tapaita the photos of her brothers. Suelisa finds Tapaita’s file.

      Two girls reading a book together

      Suelisa and Tapaita pore over Suelisa’s file chatting about the photos.

      Two girls reading a book together

      Suelisa asks Tapaita, “Have you got a brother?”

      Two girls reading a book together

      Tapaita is too busy reading Suelisa’s file to answer so Suelisa flicks through Tapaita’s file looking for photos.

      Short-term review

      Today I spotted Suelisa and Tapaita sharing and reading each other’s file. This story is a great example of the interest Suelisa has in her own and other children’s files and of how proud she is to share her family with her friends. Using Suelisa’s file as a tool to help her settle into kindergarten has helped Suelisa to develop a greater sense of belonging, form friendships and take an active role in the kindergarten programme.

      Child’s name: Suelisa

      Date: 13 March

      Teacher: Karen 

          Examples or cues

      A Learning Story


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

      Children dancing 

      As the weeks go by, Suelisa’s sense of belonging continues to grow. Occasionally, she is sad at the beginning of the session but this is soon forgotten as she becomes involved in the session.

      Today I spotted Suelisa fully involved in a group music session that the children had initiated themselves. Jasmine was the leader who directed the game, and Suelisa looked to her for guidance and copied the actions of the other children


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

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

      Mana reo
      Expressing an Idea or a Feeling In a range of ways (specify). For example: oral language, gesture, music, art, writing, using numbers and patterns, telling stories. 

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

      Short-term review

      From the photo you can clearly see the level of involvement Suelisa enjoyed in this activity. Suelisa’s enjoyment is clear by her big smile.

      It is great to see Suelisa independently joining groups and being involved in small-group play. (Te Whariki, Well-being, Goal 2.1)

      Suelisa has an expectation that music can amuse and delight. She took cues from her friends and was able to experiment with ways to move to the music. (Te Whariki, Communication, Goal 4.8)

      What next?

      Continue to foster Suelisa’s sense of belonging.

      Foster Suelisa’s enjoyment and interest in music and dancing.

      A long-term project is planned for next term; this is a common interest for many children in the morning session. (See planning board).

      Discover Suelisa’s other interests.

  • Suelisa's sense of belonging part 2
    • Teacher: Glynis

      Date: May

      Suelisa's Pictorial Learning Story

      Girl gluing wood together 

      Today Suelisa came to the woodwork area, a part of the kindergarten that she hasn’t spent much time in until today. She watched some children using the glue guns and decided that she would like to make something too!

       Two girls gluing wood together

      She chose two pieces of wood and proceeded to glue them together being very careful where she placed the glue. When she finished doing that I suggested she look in the baskets on the shelves to see what else she could decorate her creation with, which she did.

       Two girls gluing wood together Girl gluing wood together Girl gluing wood together

      Suelisa spent a long time choosing the pieces she wanted to place on her creation and then placing them, using just the right amount of glue. When she had finished with her creation she put her name on it so she would not lose it. I then suggested that she could paint the creation with dye. She agreed and did so. When she had finished I told her to put it on the “amazing creations” trolley so that she could show it at mat time. Suelisa did that and she stood up the front and showed all her kindergarten friends her great work.

      Girl gluing wood together

      Short-term review

      Suelisa is gaining more and more confidence in herself and her abilities at kindergarten. She has developed a greater sense of belonging and is making more friends. It is great to see Suelisa challenging herself in an area of the kindergarten that she hasn’t used before and feeling confident enough to show her creation on the mat.

      What next?

      Continue to foster Suelisa’s sense of belonging and her confidence and encourage her to challenge herself even more.

      Date: Week 6, August

      Teacher’s name: Jane

      Suelisa and Tessa’s Block Creation

      Two girls playing with block set

      Today whilst inside, I noticed two very focused children, Suelisa and Tessa, working on something in the block area. I went over to get a closer look.

      Suelisa and Tessa were working very co- operatively, building a tall tower with the blocks. They were using the narrow blocks and carefully took it in turns to add a block to their creation.

      Suelisa and Tessa kept adding the blocks until eventually their building became too unstable and collapsed. Although this is not shown in the photos, their building broke about four times. Suelisa and Tessa kept persevering and rebuilt their creation.

      After their creation fell down a second time, Suelisa and Tessa’s frustration turned into enjoyment as they began to have fun watching their building break. Suelisa would get more and more excited as she added each block, waiting for her building to tumble down.

      Suelisa and Tessa began adding the block people to their creation. Soon more children came to see what was happening in the block corner. 

       Two girls playing with block set

      Here is Myra showing Suelisa her block person.

      Girl playing with block set Girl playing with block set

      Suelisa and Tessa continued to work together. Tessa collected some more blocks and block people, and Suelisa carefully continued to build her tower. “Watch out, Suelisa – down comes your tower!”

      Short-term review

      I do not usually see Suelisa playing in the block area, so it was lovely to see her so involved and focused with block play.

      Suelisa was able to work co-operatively with Tessa, in a joint project, whilst still feeling competent and confident enough to express her own ideas and feelings.

      Suelisa showed perseverance when rebuilding her creation. (Te Whariki, Exploration, Goal 3.3) Self-management and Competitive Skills:
      “as children explore, they show initiative, commitment, perseverance, courage, and enterprise and they adapt to new situations.” (Te Whariki, page 98)

      Suelisa chose to turn what could have been a frustrating experience (i.e., having her building fall down) into an enjoyable and challenging experience. Well done, Suelisa!

      What next?

      Read this story with Suelisa.

      Ask Suelisa to talk about her block creation.

      Invite Suelisa to become involved in the block area again.