Saturday, April 13, 2013

Formal observation 2, case example

Child or children observed (fictitious names): Johnny
Children’s approximate ages: 4 years 1 month
CHECK ONE OF THE FOLLOWING: Boys ____     Girls ____     Mixed Group ____
Observation Context: Child’s Home
Date of Observation: 11-20-04 Time Begun: 3:15pm Time Ended: 4:30pm

Brief Objective Description of Setting/Situation
The child, which we shall call Johnny, was observed in the front room of his home on a Saturday afternoon.  Johnny stayed in this room for the duration of the observation.  The room had white walls, light gray carpet, and a large bay window taking up the majority of the north wall.  Sunlight filtered through the rose bushes outside the window.  An assortment of approximately fifty Hot Wheels cars lay next to pieces of a track on the floor in front of the window, and Johnny spent most of his time in this area of the room.  There was also a Hot Wheels Car Launcher, which was designed to accelerate toy cars through the track.  Johnny’s father and nine month old sister sat on the other side of the toys.  Throughout the observation, I stayed seated on a couch which was positioned on the east wall of the room.
I am certain that I observed play.  At one point, Johnny said, “How will I fit them together?” while looking at his father and motioning to the track pieces.  His father replied, “Well, see if you can figure it out.”  From what I saw, Johnny was not told what to do or how to use the toy cars; his actions were of his own choice.  One semi-consistent rule I saw that may have hinted at game play was Johnny’s repeated attempts to manipulate the toys in ways that launched the cars into the air.  Johnny employed methods such as adjusting the track, rearranging track pieces, moving the jump closer in the track to the launcher, and using different cars.  Otherwise, there were not any other noticeable consistent rules.
The intensity and frequency of Johnny’s laughter, smiling or comments after each car launch increased as the distance the car flew increased.  The fact that Johnny enjoyed the play is an example of a positive affect, according to the Five Descriptors of Play.  Towards the end of the observation, Johnny discontinued using the car launcher to shoot the cars into the air; he instead aimed the track ramp towards a table and launched cars directly into the table.  He responded to a direct collision between car and table very similarly to how he responded to a long distanced launch earlier.  This change in the pattern of play illustrates the flexibility aspect of the Five Descriptors.
Parten’s Types of Play (Berger, page 305)
Solitary Play – A child plays alone, seemingly unaware of any other children playing nearby
Johnny was adjusting and playing with his Hot Wheels cars and track while his nine month old sister lay on her back in a baby gym, batting at the hanging toys.  Johnny’s father is sitting on the couch looking in the direction of the television.  I did not notice any form of interaction at all.
Cooperative Play – Children play together, either jointly creating an elaborate game or structure or taking turns
Johnny says, while looking at father, “Liv want to play hot wheels too.”  ‘Liv’ is what Johnny calls his sister.  Johnny places a hot wheels car in his sister’s hand.  She places it in her mouth.  Johnny says, “Liv!!!” and laughs.  Johnny places his fingers around her arm and, with the car in her hand, the car is moved to the track, then through the launcher and into the air.  Liv giggles and smiles.  Johnny smiles, then stands up and walks through the room, picking up toy cars from the ground.
Craig’s Forms of Play
Sensory Pleasure – the aim of this kind of play is sensory experience in and for itself
After launching a car into the air or at the table, Johnny was observed saying, “Whoa! Is that cool or what!” six times, smiling every time


According to Johnny, his drawing depicts a “big boy” and “another big boy.”  The boy drawn in black crayon is much more detailed than a tadpole person.  He has eyes, legs, a body, a head, hair, arms, a mouth, and yes, cells.  The cells are the dots around the boy and they “help the big boy from getting colds.”  Johnny said that the boy drawn in black crayon “is looking to the side and he has strong arms.”  The second boy Johnny drew is blue and is a friend of the first boy.  He is also a “big boy, but not as strong.”  This boy has legs, a neck, a head, and eyes.  The second boy was drawn in about half the time it took to draw the first one.  Johnny seems to be right on track with his fine motor development and was able to add a few details, like hair and cells, that the four-year-old in the textbook did not draw.

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