Forms | ABC Event Sampling Record

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Here’s a free download and print form designed to help early learning professionals collect information and better understand behaviors or situations.

What’s An ABC Event Sampling Record?

This is an anecdotal observation form designed for observing a targeted behavior or situation (Kim’s biting, Clive’s meltdowns, Sam’s hair pulling). With this form, you can record the ABCs of the targeted activity and hopefully gain some insight into the situation. ABC stand for Antecedent (What happened before the targeted situation/behavior–what triggers it?), Behavior (the targeted situation/behavior), and Consequences (what came directly after the targeted situation–what does the situation/behavior accomplish? ). This form helps users see patterns–which can be very useful in managing the environment.

While this tool can be used to increase understanding of negative behavior, it can also be used to focus on positive situations (Darin sharing, Kim not biting, Alex sharing her block building skills with younger kids) or even to collect data on staff activities.

How To Us The ABC Event Sampling Record

First, select a target situation or behavior. For this example, we’ll focus on Clive’s meltdowns.

Then, wait for the targeted situation to occur and record what you observe (as well as the date and time). For example, You may record that Clive started yelling, flailing is arms, and crying (Behavior) immediately after Kim told him she didn’t want to play ninjas (Antecedent). Then Clive self-calmed and Kim called him a baby and went back to the block tower she was building (Consequences). When recording your observations, try to remain neutral and include as much detail as possible. To making recording easier, I suggest keeping the form nearby on a clipboard so you can jot down your observations as soon as possible after the targeted behavior occurs.

Now, one sample record may not provide much insight, but if you record each of Clive’s meltdowns over the course of a week (or more), patterns may emerge when you analyze your records.

Maybe the majority of his meltdowns happen on Mondays and they taper off as the week goes on. Maybe most of them involve Kim. Maybe they involve him being told NO. Maybe they happen in the hour leading up to lunch.

The pattern(s) you observe can help you manage your environment. For example, pre-lunch meltdowns may mean Clive’s tummy is rumbling and hunger is triggering his loss of control. What would happen if you started feeding him a bit earlier?

Here’s The Form



This form is a tool that can help you gain insight and understanding into situations in your early learning setting. You may be interested in our other observation forms too.

If you have questions about this form or want to share experiences using ABC Event Sample Records, make use of the comments section below.

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I'm an early learning speaker, podcaster, content creator, author, and founder of Playvolution HQ and Explorations Early Learning.