In this paper, we synthesize two bodies of work related to students' representational activities: the notions of meta-representational competence and representation as a form of practice. We report on video analyses of kindergarten and first-grade students as they create representations of pollination in a science classroom, as well as summarize results from interviews regarding the design choices that they made. Analysis of the semistructured pre- and postinterviews reveals that students attend to the content domain, local activity, and their personal preferences when evaluating representations. Analysis of video case studies that followed the students as they created their representations further reveals several key mediators of the students' representational activities, including other students, task constraints, the teacher, and local norms for what constituted a “good representation.” In addition, the data show that these norms shifted over time as new content was covered in the class, and were appropriated in interaction with other students. Finally, both sets of analyses reveal that students often face competing constraints when creating their representations, and resolve these constraints through a complex set of negotiations. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed91:1–35, 2007