Evaluation of health promotion interventions aimed at behavioural or environmental change involves assessing change that occurs as a result of the program, Direct observational methods can be used for this purpose and this paper describes three such methods that we pilot tested for use in a 5-year intervention study aimed at reducing sun exposure in primary school children. (1) Monitoring 'No hat, no play' policies. This method involved video taping children in selected school play areas during lunch time and analysing the content of the videos to assess the proportion of children wearing various types of hats. (2) Assessing shade provision in the playground. This method involved taking aerial photographs of each school and using them to estimate the proportion of shade in play areas available to children at lunchtime, (3) Shade use. This involved children wearing polysulphone film badges to measure the amount of UV-B exposure they received during one lunch period, relative to the total possible dose registered on index badges. Each method was implemented successfully, and we demonstrated that the video and aerial photography methods produced highly reproducible results and that all three methods were feasible. These three methods will be used in our intervention study to assess longitudinal change in schools' sun-protection policy and practice.