Pre-K Student Portfolios

In our portfolios, I include anecdotal notes, photographs, art, stories, and other samples of children’s work. I take photos of children building with blocks, participating in science explorations, dramatic play, pretend-reading a story, etc. and attach it to a page along with a description of what the child was doing and quotes of things the child said while engaged in the activity. I sometimes also take photos of artwork or other projects that are too large or bulky to put in a portfolio.

I do hands-on activities in my class rather than worksheets, but when I need something for a portfolio, I think about how to make a “hard copy” of the same activity. For example, if I am assessing sorting, I have children sort paper cutouts to glue on divided paper, rather than sorting manipulatives in a divided tray. I use the paper punchers that are sold in craft stores for assessment of sorting, patterns, and counting. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes: apples, stars, hearts, bears, leaves, butterflies, etc.


I like to write the objective on the back of each paper I add to the portfolio. This way the parents understand the purpose of the activity. For example, “Math: Making an AABB pattern” or “Math: Sorting by size” or “Literacy: Retelling a story”. One way to do this is to print labels with the objectives on them and stick them to the back of the paper. If you print out all of your labels ahead of time, it can work as a list of which samples need to be added to the portfolio and which children were absent when a sample was completed.

I use the portfolios during parent conferences to show what children have accomplished. I also use them when I need to fill out progress reports.

How to Make Them

I use notebooks with children’s work in clear page protectors. The children’s work is placed in chronological order. I like using the clear page protectors because children can flip through their book to look at their photos and work. I keep the portfolios out where the children can get them anytime. I use notebooks with clear covers with a photo of the child in the front sleeve.

Student Portfolios for Pre-K

Update: As of 2011, I changed schools and began using the Work Sampling System Online. I no longer use the notebooks because the portfolio is online. Even if you don’t have Work Sampling Online, you could make e-portfolios by organizing the students’ work into folders on the computer. Work Sampling has four types of samples collected for each child: notes, matrices, samples (photos of the children’s work), and photos (photos of the children in action).

What to Include in a Portfolio

Portfolio Work Samples:

Don’t miss the assessment resource page!

Some of these ideas I learned in a Georgia Best Practices Portfolio workshop, and some I’ve created on my own.


  1. Priscilla says

    Very detailed! Thank you for your ideas on portfolios. I will definitely keep in my mind for this coming school year. :)

  2. Rachelle says

    Where do you get your pattern block shape cutouts for the students to use on the shape sorting forms? Surely you don’t hand cut all of them do you?

    • says

      If you are referring to the shapes on the shape sorting math portfolio activity, yes, I do hand cut them. It would be wonderful to have a die cut for pattern blocks (they do make them), but I’ve never worked in a school that had them.

  3. Stacie says

    Thank you, Karen. This is extremely detailed and very helpful for me as a first year teacher. The assessment sheets are wonderful!

  4. Samantha says

    Thank you for posting this.
    I’m learning about portfolios in my college class. I have to make a portfolio this week for an online class which can be difficult if you’ve never made one before so this really helped me out.

  5. Catherine Blackmore says

    I love all the work you have shared. I would appreciate any new ideas that you would like to share. It is wonderful to give new teachers examples of what others produce other than your own. Thanks for all the hard work and ideas. Catherine

  6. Marion says

    I LOVE THIS! Thank you so much! This has really come in handy with my classroom! I have a small class for now, so this is perfect! :) Love your blog by the way. Always gives me great ideas!

  7. Jacqueline D. Miles says

    Thank you so much for sharing such valuable information. I am a new teacher and appreciate your generosity.


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