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Notes from the Classroom: Importance of "Show & Tell"

Notes from the Classroom

When I subbed in one of our three’s classrooms recently, I was able to lead this formative early childhood activity. It turned out to be a special and surprising experience for the adults. To set the scene, earlier in the morning three students responded that they had brought something to share at “Show and Tell” later that morning. After a full morning of activity and as we were finishing our snack, I asked the children if they had brought “Show and Tell” today and if they had, to go and get it, and bring it over to the carpet. Well, everyone suddenly went to their cubby to find their “Show and Tell!” See in the photograph, ​​​​the children’s ardent search for something to share even if they hadn’t brought anything with them for this activity. Each child had something in his or her hand when they joined group time. ​​Caroline Redmond (this group’s lead teacher) and I were so happy to see such enthusiasm. Each child did a wonderful job of showing their item, talking about it, and listening to their friends. Most importantly, the children have lots of fun with this activity (some even reveal their humorous side).

​​Why is Show and Tell such an important activity for early childhood children?

Children begin the process of Show and Tell when they choose an object to bring to school to show and talk about. Some children may require some initial support at home to choose an object and to prepare what to say about it. Gradually, over time, they become more independent in this preparation while others are able to talk off the cuff about the object. The idea is to provide a platform in which young children can practice and gain confidence in public speaking, a skill they will need throughout their lifetime, in an appropriate developmental way. The teachers provide guidance by repeating what the child says to clarify, they assist with sentence structure, and encourage the quiet child to speak a little louder. As the child speaks, the teacher also guides the child with responses and questions to prompt the dialogue. Once the child is finished speaking and has shown his or her object to all, everyone claps and the child is thanked for their participation.

Show and Tell benefits young children in a number of ways

Speech Development – It provides the child with an opportunity to use language, think conceptually, and to tell stories. For example, the children observe their peers and practice for themselves how to organize their thoughts and communicate the details. These skills will develop into effective communication.

Emotional Development – Children have an opportunity to share a part of their life – in talking about their own interests, home life, family the child’s emotional self is acknowledged and fostered.

Listening Skill Development – The structure of Show and Tell provides an opportunity in which young children learn to be respectful of others, i.e. listening when another person speaks.

Leadership Skills– From choosing the item, to talking in the front of the class, to using their vocal chords, these components of Show and Tell contribute to leadership development in young children via decision making, leading, and commanding group attention.

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