6 Formative Assessments Simple Enough for Preschool

formative assessment

Are your lesson plans meeting their target objectives? How can you know? Daily formative assessments will help teachers rest assured students are getting it and lessons are affective. Here are two great resources with assessment ideas primary and secondary teachers can quickly use in class.


10 Assessments You Can Perform in 90 Seconds


22 Easy Formative Assessment Techniques for Measuring Student Learning


I’m going to adapt three of these formative assessments to show how they can be used for an advanced preschool or kindergarten lesson objective aligned with Common Core State Standard ELA-Literacy.RL.K.3. For this objective lesson plan, I’ve used Ginger by Charlotte Voake to give context for students.


Objective: SWBAT identify the garden and the little girl’s home as settings, NOT the basket, the chair and the cardboard box.



Draw It

This is a very easy formative assessment. Intertwined with my lesson, I would ask students to draw one of the two settings of the story. I would give students half of a slip of paper. When I say, “Get ready, get set, draw!” Students will start to draw.   If they can draw both settings by the time the timer goes off, I’ll give them a high five!


Yes/No Chart

This formative assessment takes a bit more planning for my ELL students, but it can be differentiated to further distinguish between settings and non-settings. Before class, I would prepare pictures of all characters, objects and settings from Ginger. I picked this book because of its simple illustrations, so it shouldn’t be too overwhelming to gather pictures. On a whiteboard, I would make a yes/no chart and first put up the pictures of the basket, the home, the chair, the garden and the cardboard box next to numbers 1-5. Then, I would ask students to make their own chart on a slip of paper with the numbers 1-5 to correspond with the pictures. I would ask students to check “yes” or “no” for which is a setting and which is not a setting. Then I would walk around the room to look at papers and see if most students are getting correct answers.

After this, I could do one of two things. First option would be to revisit what a setting is and then answer “yes” or “no” on the board if I saw many students were not understanding the difference between a setting and a non-setting. If it was very clear that the majority of students understood, I would push to further differentiate and introduce other objects to check “yes” or “no.”

Then, we would correct answers as a class.



New Clothes

This doesn’t look exactly the same as the assessment with the same name on the website link above, but the title of the original assessment gave me the idea for this newly created assessment. This is a formative assessment that follows and activity giving students additional practice with understanding what a setting is. It should be completed after finding the settings of different stories. This assessment also takes a bit of prep, or skills with quick drawings.

The main point of this assessment is to list elements in picture form from popular stories that are told all over the world, such as, “Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf,” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” I would gather character pictures, a couple of object pictures (such as straw, bricks and bowls of porridge), and all of the settings (the three houses and the bears’ house).   Even if students aren’t familiar with the stories, the houses should be giveaways of the setting if they have a deeper understanding that a person can’t be a setting and neither can an object (in most cases).

Each story would have one row of pictures. The students would circle the setting if this assessment was given in worksheet form. If the teacher put these pictures up on the board (or if she quickly drew the pictures on the board), students would draw the answer on their own sheet. Teachers can pull elements from stories they’ve told or books they’ve read in the past as long as the teacher can remember the correct setting!

This type of formative assessment is one I would use a day or two before I gave a summative assessment to have confidence that students grasped the concept of a setting.


These are all great assessments for assessing each individual student’s comprehension, but sometimes I want to allow practice and assessment at the same time.  For these instances, I turn to games.

I love games because they’re great for girls and boys.  Boys need the activity, girls need to practice handling pressure.  I think each type of game targets different formative assessment needs, though.

Whole Group Games

Whole group games serve the purpose of allowing “group think.”  Teachers shouldn’t assume every student is grasping the concept, but it does help a teacher know if the majority or at least some students are grasping what we’re trying to get across to students.  I really love “Four Squares” or in my classroom… “Four Boxes.”  I tape off four boxes in the four corners of the room and place a picture at the middle of the box, so pictures and students are contained in a specific area.  For this standard I would use characters and settings. I would call out, “Go to a setting,” or “Go to a character.” This would help me see if students are basically getting it.

Team Games

Team games help me identify which students aren’t getting it, since they’re having to actually test what they know under a circumstance of high pressure. I’ve played team games as a formative assessment for phonics words in my EFL class.  I realized students who I thought were grasping the words could not illicit reading/sounding out the words on their own.  I also was surprised to find that some of my students who had rough starts really surged to the top in these games!  For this standard/objective, I would place a mixed pile of characters, settings and objects pictures at the front of the classroom.  I would also make a starting line where students from each team would stand to listen for my instructions.  I’ll call out, “Find a character/setting!” The student who identifies a character or setting first would win a point for their team.  Teachers can take out the selected correct pictures once picked, or they can add the pictures back to the pile to be selected by a different student another time.

One on One Games

I typically use these games as assessments to check on my lowest level kids when I’m in a review part of a lesson plan.  If I had identified students who didn’t quite grasp the setting concept, I might review the concept of a setting and character and then ask those identified students to play a one to one game.  That allows me to give extra practice to these students and assess them, again.  One game I like is called the “flyswatter” game.  I would put pictures of characters, objects and settings on the whiteboard.  Students would slap the picture with clean flyswatters when I called out, “character” or “setting.”


I hope these ideas were helpful and you see a formative assessment you can use in your own classroom!  What formative assessments do you use in class?

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