Anji Play: auto-assessment with smart-phone help

True Play: the focus in Anji Play

Anji Play is an educational method that originated in rural western China. The core idea is awesome. If the child plays out of itself (true play), the educators task is:

“Hands down, mouths shut, ears and eyes open to hear and see the child.”

(Coffino & Bailey p.6).

And often: get out the smart-phone. Because the observation is supplemented by pictures and videos.

Play Sharing: the ingenious method of Anji Play

The reflection is dedicated to special time in the Anji Play, so-called “play sharing” sessions. Together with the child, the records are looked a. The child is asked to describe his or her experience.

“The complex problem solving, discovery and insight, conflict resolution and social negotiation from the day´s play was expressed in children´s thinking and ideas with confidence and clarity.” […] Play Sharing requires very little active guidance from the teacher and instead demands the teacher´s attentiveness to the direction of the children´s thoughts […].”

(ibid., p. 6-7)

What does this mean for us as educators?

That making videos and pictures of the children’s play has huge potential. It should be borne in mind that children’s awareness of themselves being recorded will affect their behavior. And that data protection rights of all parties involved must be discussed and respected.

The largest study ever conducted on influencing factors on learning outcomes (John Hattie, 2008) weights 252 factors that are important for learning (although related to school, but of course to some degree transferable to shared daycare children). These include tactile stimulation, birth weight and non-labelling of learners. The most powerful factor, however, was “self-assessment.”

Anji Play shows a way to support children in their ability to self-assess, reflect and control their own learning.



Robert Coffino, J.; Bailey, C.: “The Anji Play Ecology of Early Learning”, January/February 2019, also at

Visible Learnung,, Accessed: 2020-25-05.


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