Assessing the Quality of Collaborative Play

Delivery Method: 

When children play together in small groups, we are provided with an opportunity to understand and respect the quality of their collaboration. This video clip of three children playing in a water basin offers us insights into what it takes to maintain high quality group play.

Following are several guidelines regarding what you might notice as you summarize the quality of the children’s collaboration. The questions follow the chronological order of the video clip. You can use these questions to evaluate other episodes of collaborative play.

* Do the children share the same objective? Janiyah wants to make direct contact with the water. The two boys want to fill the large plastic container.

* Do the children who share the same objective interfere with one another? Leslie (striped shirt) fills the large container with a glass. Judex (yellow/white shirt) fills it using a syringe.

* Do the children with different objectives interfere with one another? Janiyah’s placement of the large blue watering can interferes with the filling activity.

* How do the children negotiate interferences? Judex gives Janiyah a direct command to stop. Judex physically removes the interfering object.

* Do the children note when another child’s goal is in progress? Janiyah watches as Leslie repeatedly pours glasses of water into the large container.

* Do the children permit one another to enter the play with goals somewhat different from the goal in process? Janiyah lifts the syringe and moves it toward the container, but Leslie blocks her move and takes the syringe from her.

* Do children create signals that allow the other children to know in advance that an action will contribute to a common goal? Janiyah lifts the syringe without drawing water into its chamber first, as Judex had done earlier, thereby making her intent difficult to read.

* Do children participate by defining the achievement of the common goal? As Leslie makes the water level approach the top of the container, Judex says, “That’s enough."

* Do children give good reasons for not complying with a suggestion? Leslie tells Judex that the water level is "almost there." Judex repeats, "Almost there."

At this point in the video, Leslie tries to lift the filled container but it is too heavy. Do you see any additional examples of collaboration in the last 2 minutes of the clip? Try this - think of actions that might have occurred and then decide if you have invented a higher or lower quality of collaboration?

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Length of stand alone master video clip: 2 minutes 17 seconds

Keywords: Fours, Child-Child, Communication, Negotiation, Maintaining Play