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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL Why Observe Children? Learning about the Information and Knowledge Children Are Constructing Through their play and use of materials, children often show you what information and knowledge they are figuring out and what skills they are working on. Read the following note about Fer- nando, and identify what knowledge and skills he is showing in this observation. Fernando (3 years, 7 months) While drawing at the art table, Fernando uses many colors of markers. When he finishes, I ask him to tell me about his picture. He points to the large, yellow circle and says it is a big animal. Then he says, “This is purple, and this is red.” Fernando then gets a purple marker and draws the letter F in the left-hand corner. He says, “F for Fernando.” Using information for assessment Fernando is showing his begin- ning literacy and fine-motor skills as he draws a circle and a letter F, all advanced skills for his age according to developmental checklists. He is also showing his growing vocabulary and understanding of concepts by identifying colors. Using information for planning Fernando may enjoy working with a name card so that he can see the other letters in his name and attempt to represent them. To help him continue to develop the muscles in his hand for writing, you could provide him with opportunities to work with playdough, to string beads, to build with small connecting blocks, and to draw and write with a variety of writing tools. Offer- ing him opportunities to match and label colored objects will build his vocabulary of color words. Learning about Children’s Expression of Their Cultural Backgrounds Children’s cultural backgrounds show through in their play and in the ways that the children function in everyday routines. Sometimes teachers’ assumptions about how a child should go about eating or toileting are different from a family’s assumptions. Whether this COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL 13