Developed by Sally Flagler, PhD, the Infant-Preschool Play Assessment Scale (I-PAS) is a criterion referenced assessment instrument that enables teachers, clinicians and other caregivers to systematically observe children at play and in other routine or natural environments for the purpose of:

  • determining a child's developmental level of functioning
  • identifying developmental gaps, skill deficits and emerging skills
  • evaluating child progress; and,
  • evaluating program effectiveness. 

The Play Assessment Scale lists behaviors in developmental sequence beginning at birth and continuing to age five. While the sequence of skills is based on current literature and practical experience, it represents general child development and mayor may not represent the development of a particular child. The purpose of the scale is to provide the observer with a frame of reference and general guidelines of "normal" child development.

The I-PAS may be used in a variety of ways. In a multidisciplinary setting, it may be used to help professional evaluators determine the presence of disabilities in children who have been referred for diagnostic evaluation. It also may be used by teachers to help them plan activities for entire classrooms as well as for individual children. Because it requires few, if any, formal arrangements and specific tools, the I-PAS also may be used to monitor child progress on an on-going basis in the child's natural environments at home or in a center or play group.


I-PAS Guide (158 pages) is $29.95

I-PAS Manual (112 pages) $15.95

I-PAS scoring booklets (20 per pack) $19.95

Order I-PAS products online.

Why Play Assessment?

Spontaneous, natural play is basic to child development. This is where the child learns, and it follows that this is where the child best demonstrates that learning. A teacher or evaluator who is trained in child development and familiar with the scale can observe the child at play and accurately determine levels of functioning in various skill areas. Assessment instruments and tests which require children to sit for long periods (15 minutes or more) performing various adult directed activities may not reveal a true picture of the child's abilities or newly developing or emerging skills.
For most children, play is intrinsically motivating, and since play is natural and needs little instruction, more typical behaviors may be seen with this method than with more formalized testing situations.

Using the Infant-Preschool Play Assessment Scale (I-PAS)

Because no one person can become expert in all areas of child development and its associated assessment procedures, the I-PAS helps the assessor document skills observed in natural play and other routine situations. Item descriptions include procedural directions similar to other more formalized assessment instruments which clarify criteria for mastery and assist the observer in "setting-up" activities if expected behaviors are not observed in the natural environment.

In addition to the scale found in the manual an abbreviated checklist is also
available for more economical observations.

The suggested process for using the I-PAS may be modified and amended in cases where child behavior or disabilities warrant. While there is not a rigid protocol, child behavior should be assessed within a general framework.

The first step is for the observer to become familiar with the instrument itself. A general knowledge of child development is necessary if accurate observation techniques are to be beneficial.
2. Next the observer should be aware of the purpose of the observation. How will the results be used?
3. The observer should be familiar with the "Play Observation Guidelines" section of the manual. The observer may use one or more of these guidelines to form a framework or structure for the observation activity. The summary form is organized by these important child development and play concepts. Although a more comprehensive integrated assessment is recommended, the observer also may examine child behaviors in specific skill domains, such as:

        • communication 
        • cognition
        • sensorimotor
        • fine motor
        • gross motor
        • social-emotional

Applying the Results

I-PAS results may not be used as standardized or norm-referenced data in determining exact developmental levels. Skills are listed in the order they frequently occur in most young children. For individual children, however, the order of skill development may be different without indicating the presence of a disability or other problem.

Professional, licensed diagnostician may find the I-PAS an alternative method to assess children's skills while conducting a multi-disciplinary evaluation to determine special education needs.

The Infant-Preschool Play Assessment Scale is also a reliable method for observing on-going progress of children during the program year. Programs which administer pre and post assessments can use the I-PAS approach to observe children during the year so that plans can be adjusted to more effectively meet the needs of the children.

Children with Disabilities

While the I-PAS has an underlying developmental structure, it may be
administered with a degree of flexibility. Because children with disabilities
may have widely variable skill development, the I-PAS becomes a useful tool
in assessing their behaviors. If the child has a modality deficit (cannot see,
speak, hear, etc.) then the observer should examine individual skill items to
see if they hold relevance for this particular child. If they do not, leave them
out (with comment) and move on to items which are not directly impacted by
the child's disability. Most of the skill items can be demonstrated without language and, where appropriate, the observer may use physical prompts if necessary. The use of assistive technology devices and strategies is appropriate as well.

Multidimensional Assessment Through Play


Sally Flagler has also written this 158-page guide to help teacher and caregivers as they observe child development through play. Contents include:

  • Play and the Developmental Process
  • Cognitive Assessment
  • Social/Emotional Assessment
  • Behavioral Assessment
  • Assessment of Autism
  • Adaptive Equipment

This 158-page manual is available for $29.95

Why Play Assessment?
Using the I-PAS
Applying the Results
Children with Disabilities
Prices and Availability
Multidemensional Assessment Through Play


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Order I-PAS products from CHTOP, Inc:

PANDA for Substance Abuse Prevention

PANDA is a substance abuse prevention program developed for use in early childhood settings. It includes a wide variety of developmentally-appropriate activities for children aged four and older. Designed to teach young children about the importance of building healthy bodies and saying "no" to substances that can hurt them, the curriculum helps children develop positive feelings about themselves, and gives them practice in making appropriate decisions in the face of peer pressure.

Check review links on the right.

Educating the children is important, but may not be enough to affect future choices and behaviors. Research indicates that family members have a significant impact on a child's behavior. Therefore, an effective prevention program must include family education and support.

PANDA includes materials and guidelines for involving families, teachers, administrators and other segments of the child's community. Through teamwork, coordinators of education, parent involvement and social services, PANDA can help early intervention programs help children and families say "yes" to a lifetime of good health.


Contents of the PANDA Kit include:

  • 320-page manual with dozens of activities for children,
  • ideas for involving parents and community,
  • words for all the songs,
  • illustrations that can be decorated and mounted for use with children, and
  • 4 audio cassettes (with CD) with songs and stories.

_______Price for Kit: $ 65.95
_______Manual alone: 39.95
_______To order, click here.

The Curriculum

PANDA is based on the conviction that children can have an ongoing impact on their own health and safety if they are actively educated. The curriculum features four units:

  • Building Healthy Bodies;
  • Saying No to Tobacco;
  • Saying No to Alcohol; and,
  • Saying No to Drugs.

The overall goal of the curriculum is to increase each child's knowledge and under-
standing about the importance of a healthy body, the harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol and drugs and the empowerment to say "no" to peer pressure. For more information on the efficacy of providing this kind of information to very young children, check the PANDA links in the column on the right.

Specific Goals Include:

  • To encourage pride in the uniqueness of each child in order to help children
    develop strong, positive self-images.
  • To encourage children to say "yes" to a lifetime of good health.
  • To help children understand that there are things in their lives over which they can
    exercise control (e.g. what goes into their bodies).
  • To help children learn strategies for responding to peer pressure by providing practice in: a) weighing the consequences of various actions, and b) demonstrating appropriate response behaviors in a non-threatening environment.

In order to meet these goals each of the four units includes activities designed to help
children feel good about themselves and activities which present concrete information
(on food, drink, drugs and tobacco) upon which use decisions are made. Also in-
cluded are activities designed to help children feel comfortable with decision-making
and activities related to refusal strategies to give children confidence in acting on their

Designing a Community Approach

An effective substance abuse prevention program must involve the children, their parents, program staff, and others in the community. The more people who are committed to a substance abuse prevention effort within your community, the more successful your program is likely to be. A coordinated substance abuse prevention program should include:

  • an awareness and utilization of community organizations and resources for sub-
    stance abuse;
  • ongoing parent education and family support; and,
  • component coordination and cooperation in implementing the substance abuse

The first step in designing and implementing a drug education program is the estab-
lishment of a program-level drug awareness task force involving parents, teachers, and administrators. Invite community representatives (e.g. a mental health or substance abuse counselor, a physician) to join your task force. Together, members of the task force can:

  • assess specific local conditions;
  • survey local resources;
  • develop a program for staff, parents and children;
  • implement the program; and,
  • evaluate its effectiveness.

Once the program is underway, the local task force can expand its efforts to the com-
munity at large in order to let others know what your program is doing in the sub-
stance abuse prevention effort.

To order the PANDA curriculum, click here:

Sample Illustrations:

Bobo is tempted to try a cigarette.

How does it make him feel?

Bobo eats something he shouldn't

the doctor helps.

PANDA Links:

Study of PANDA in Hillsborough County, FL.

PANDA in Baltimore, MD (Abstract)

PANDA in Baltimore, MD (Journal Article)

PANDA in Baltimore, A Review

Substance Abuse in Children

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To Promote and Measure Child Development*

The LAP System from CHTOP, Inc. on Vimeo.

The Learning Accomplishment Profile (LAP) System is a comprehensive approach for facilitating and measuring the development of children from birth through age five. The LAP curriculum and assessment materials can be used to address requirements for any early childhood program, such as Head Start and state pre-k programs. This curriculum model is grounded in early childhood research that recognizes young children as active partners in learning by:
  • Emphasizing the value of child choice and responsive teaching.
  • Promoting individualization and respect for each child’s unique qualities.
  • Including activities to help children understand and respect diversity (culture, gender, abilities). 
  • Emphasizing the importance of family and community. 
  • Promoting inclusion of children with disabilities
The Learning Accomplishment Profile (LAP) System includes:

The Chapel Hill Model

* The LAP System evolved from the "Chapel Hill Model " that was developed by CHTOP in the 1970's and validated by the US Department of Education (then a part of the US Department of Health, Education and Welfare) in 1983. The Chapel Hill Model of Services for Young Children with Disabilities include three basic elements:

  • Assessment; first we must learn what children can and cannot do before we can plan effective learning activities;
  • Curriculum; once we have conducted the assessment, we can develop an individualized curriculum that will be developmentally appropriate based on the child's age and stage of development; and,
  • Parent Involvement; which is based on the CHTOP philosophy that the child's parents are the child's primary teachers and this vital role should be strengthened and promoted by CHTOP materials and programs.

To purchase LAP products and training, please contact our publishing partners:


Curriculum Guides and Materials

Assessment results help prepare and facilitate the design of learning activities that will meet the needs of individual children as well as the entire classroom. The LAP System includes curriculum guides and activity cards for infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children that correlate with the LAP assessment instruments. Activities can be linked to emerging skills identified during the assessment process to facilitate a child’s developmental progress. Order online.

Planning and Curriculum Guides

  • Planning for Success is a 196-page teacher’s guide for developing an individualized Pre-K curriculum. Order online.
  • A Planning Guide to the Preschool Curriculum, contains 36 thematic units that include activities in areas such as art, blocks, cognitive, dramatic play, fine motor, gross motor, group play, language, library, nutrition/snack, science/discovery, self-help, and social/emotional development. Order online.
  • The Infant-Toddler Planning Guide, provides hundreds of activities to stimulate infant and toddler development through routine and planned activities.Order online.
  • Activity cards for each item on the Early LAP, LAP-3, and LAP-D. Order from Kaplan.
  • Teaching posters to stimulate language development for preschool-aged children are also available. Order from Kaplan.

Children with Disabilities

All LAP System materials are designed to support the inclusion of children with disabilities and developmental delays in early childhood settings. In addition, a publication entitled, Inclusive Preschool Environments: Strategies for Planning, is available to assist preschool teachers in designing inclusive environments and activities. Information about typical and atypical development, inclusive teaching methods that encourage active child participation, and strategies for integrating individual goals and objectives into daily classroom planning are contained in this publication.

Parent Involvement

Involving parents in the learning process is critical to the success of any early childhood program. The LAP assessment instruments provide information for teachers to share with parents that is accurate and easily understood. Parents are often encouraged to be present while their child is being assessed, and their suggestions and input are valued as part of the assessment process. To reinforce learning activities in the home, the LAP System includes:

  • Summary reports that identify emerging skills for each LAP assessment instruments
  • Homestretch, a book of fun and meaningful activities for parents to use at home that correlate with the 36 thematic units in A Planning Guide to the Preschool Curriculum.
    Order online.

Transition to Kindergarten

Without effective transition strategies, gains made by children in one setting may be lost when they transition to the next placement. The LAP System can be used to support important transitions for young children such as moving from infant and toddler settings to preschool, or from preschool to public school kindergarten. For example, Smooth Moves to Kindergarten includes strategies for program administrators and teachers, community leaders, and parents to use in helping children, including those with disabilities, make the move from preschool to public school kindergarten.

Program Evaluation

To ensure the delivery of high quality services, early childhood programs need instruments that test the effectiveness of service delivery. They want to know if the children in their care are progressing appropriately. With outcome statements embedded in the LAP assessment instruments, early childhood educators need only administer one of the assessment at the beginning, middle, and end of the program year to track child progress and monitor program and curriculum effectiveness. Also, LAP software generates reports for classrooms, schools, and educations systems to help examine program quality.

To purchase LAP products and training, please contact our publishing partners:

Drug awareness for four-year-olds. Click here.



Screening instruments provide teachers with a quick, standardized method of determining if individual children require further evaluation to address unmet needs that may interfere with their ability to learn. The LAP System includes the LAP-D Screens, normed-referenced, developmentally appropriate screens for 3-, 4-, and 5-year old children. The LAP-D Screens are available in English and Spanish. Computer software is also available.


In order to plan ongoing, developmentally appropriate learning activities for children, early childhood educators should first assess individual skill development in each of the primary developmental domains: language, cognition, social-emotional, and fine and gross motor. Through the assessment process, a profile of acquired and emerging skills can be established as well as significant gaps, which may indicate a need for an in-depth evaluation by specialized professionals. LAP assessment instruments can be used for beginning, mid-, and end-of-year observations of a child’s progress as well as for ongoing assessment. The LAP System includes three assessment instruments:

ECO Center Crosswalks

In working with states on outcome development and measurement approaches, the ECO Center cross-referenced the functional skills assessed by various published instruments with child outcomes required by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) for Part B (Section 619) and Part C programs. The purpose was to assess the degree to which these instruments measure the required outcomes. Priority was given to instruments that states identified for outcomes measurement in the State Performance Plans submitted to OSEP.


LAP software is available to assist early childhood professionals in gathering and analyzing data for both individuals and groups of children. The LAP software generates:

  • Individual assessment results and summaries
  • Classroom profiles
  • Parent reports
  • Group progress charts
  • Links to developmentally appropriate activities
  • Individual, classroom, and center analysis of assessment results in relation to the Head Start Child Outcome

Computer scoring assistant software is available for all three assessment instruments (Early LAP, LAP-3, LAP-D) either in a web-based or CD-Rom format. An electronic scoring protocol is also available using a Palm Pilot application. For additional information on LAP software development, go to

To purchase LAP products and training, please contact our publishing partners:

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