Show and Tell…and beyond!

I just had to start with this old commercial!

I like “show and tell”…I really do – there’s something special about show and tell when children actually want to bring things in to their class to show everybody else.

It’s certainly very, very special in the Early years when children are just getting used to school and the world around them seems very large and perhaps frightening. The act of bringing something into school and class to show everyone marks quite a transitional moment in just how that particular child is adapting to school, their teacher, their new friends and the world about them. Perhaps the interaction during the show and tell may well be one sided; with the majority coming from the teachers side….but with the child standing at the front it certainly is an important time.

It ticks so many boxes…..(if you like ticking boxes!)

Aside from the developmental benefits; the educational benefits are enormous. To be honest if you were to start looking at the National Curriculum statements on Speaking and Listening then you could probably fulfil most of them simply through this one simple activity. Ok, so you may have to structure things a little but you can see how adaptable this is.

It is not my purpose here to start listing the benefits and “curricular tick off’s” that may be achieved by involving Show and Tell in your timetable – merely to bang the drum for its inclusion.

So let me ask you the question – and this applies right the way through the Primary School….

                                                Do you have Show and Tell in your class timetable?

It’s NOT just for Key Stage 1

Although many people think that it is and it seems to fade away once children move into Key Stage 2.

Which is a pity because the requirements of the National Curriculum with regard to Speaking and Listening are still present and are stated as being from Y1 – Y6.

Here’s the extract:-

As you can see it is quite a wide ranging statement and as such, if we are to provide teaching in these skills, we should also be providing opportunity for the children to use them.

Speaking and Listening skills are part of everyday classroom life. In every question that is asked and answered, in every sentence that is spoken and in every interaction between peers and also with you as the teacher. These can occur naturally but in order to extend the experiences and also the capabilities of the children there must be some structure and planning to achieve this.

Extending Show and Tell activities to older children

The basics of Show and tell are these…

  • Bring something in
  • Show it to everybody
  • Talk about it

Simple….and depending on the age of the child then there may be more or less teacher involvement at any of these stages.

But adapting this to Key stage 2 obviously requires a little more structure and also more from the children.

I am sure that you can think of many ways in which this can be achieved – but as for me…well I stuck with the Show and Tell premise and just sort of upgraded the requirements!

As many of you know, I always arrange my Fridays to be a sort of finishing off / mix up day where we eased out of the week. As such Fridays are a great opportunity to have what I termed “Presentations”… and tell seems a little bit too young for KS2 children!

Depending on the year group and as such the age of the children, then you can either have the presentations done by 1 or 2 people. I never used more as it then becomes a group and of course some members of the group can fade into the background. By having a maximum of 2 children then it really does have to become a shared effort with both taking turns and presenting their own piece in the limelight.

I would suggest that for Y3 and Y4 the topics are left open for the presenters to choose with quite a straightforward format to their presentation. However, as always, it is useful to show the children the sort of things that would make a good presentation and then let them make the decisions which to use on the day.

Here’s the basic format that I gave:-

  • The presentation should last between 5 and 10 minutes
  • You can write what you wish to say on paper and read it.
  • It is possible to use the interactive board to show photographs
  • You can bring in objects to talk about and show
  • It is possible to have questions at the end …both from you as presenters and also the audience.

The presentations would be given on a Friday when the next weeks presenters would also be chosen. We generally had 3 presentations each week with children allowed to stay in after finishing their lunch during the week to research and prepare their information.

I did notice that in many cases children were also meeting up after school to have additional practice in each others homes…which is great!

For Y5 and Y6  I think the expectations and brief need to be raised. This may mean individual children giving presentations but it really is up to your judgement as the teacher to decide if this is viable with your class.

I personally think that  Presentations (show and tell) for this age range should not be open ended and should instead have a definite focus.

  • It may be directly linked to the current topic that the class are studying
  • It could be in response to perhaps an issue raised by the school council
  • Possibly some commentary and opinion on a current event either in the area or even around the world
  • You could perhaps follow a theme for presentations ….lets say for instance; rivers and mountains or famous figures from history – the choice is really yours.

In conclusion

From a practical level these sort of activity is not difficult to set up and run whatever the age group that you teach. It does not have to be done continuously throughout the year and perhaps even just for 1 term  would be sufficient as you then move the focus towards other alternative activities.

The benefits for every age are enormous and the enthusiasm of both parents and children in getting ready for this is palpable. Yes, as the children get older, their enthusiasm needs to be maintained by perhaps the choice of  subject matter but the actual practice of preparing and presenting is an invaluable experience which they all need to rise to.

This may be  only one potential activity within the speaking and listening curriculum. But from my own experiences it is an enjoyable and productive one – an activity that in essence spans the complete age range in Primary school, not only building those vital speaking and listening skills but also contributing hugely in the personal development of the children themselves.


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