In the framework of The Project Approach, documentation is the process of keeping records of the project by thoughtfully selecting and displaying various phases of work.
Let's consider making art. Think in terms of phases rather than steps (as in a tutorial). For example, the children might have an interest in clowns and might want to make a clown. They might investigate different types of clowns and different media, the materials, gather materials, set up the workspace, do problem solving, do initial sketches or drafts, then the actual construction (or molding or papier mache etc), help each other with challenges (i.e. the piece falls over, how to strengthen an arm), embellish, place on display, discuss etc. All of this comprises the project - not just the finished piece. Typically the person working with the children might focus on the outcome, putting it on display, but that is not the entire story.
In order to document the story, the children's work, you can take candid/unposed photographs of the children at work. You can keep bits of work at various stages of development. The hallways of our pre-school were lined with documentation, on shelves, in frames, on cork boards. The finished work would often be accompanied by the teacher's notes and photos of the work in process. It was fascinating to see these together. It gives more depth, a frame of reference.
- The Project Approach: Display and Documentation
- The Project Approach: Documentation
- Project To Do Checklist (from a certification program)
- The Contribution of Documentation to the Quality of Early Childhood Education by Lillian Katz and Sylvia Chard.