sharing,  show and tell

Ideas for making show and tell meaningful

I think that show and tell is a wonderful idea – in theory.  I love that children get to share something that is really important to them, and that they get the opportunity to be the expert, even if only for a few minutes.  I don’t love show and tell when it turns into “everyone bring the fanciest most expensive toy that you own and brag about it while the teacher spends the day making sure nothing gets broken and no one cries.” Yup, I’ve been there too.

I think there are a few really great ways to stay on the positive side of show and tell, and make it something interesting, valuable, and relevant for all of the children in your group.

The first idea comes from a program that I worked with for a time.  They used show and tell bags, and five different children got a show and tell bag to take home at the beginning of each week.  By the end of the week those children would bring something back in their bag, and they would share with the class.  This helped make sure that show and tell didn’t last all day long – because there were only a few children who got to share.  These genius teachers also did show and tell at the end of the day, right before dismissal.  This is an incredible idea because the children who are sharing know that they have to wait until the end of the day, so they don’t spend the entire day asking to get their show and tell item out of their cubby to play with.  It also helps make sure that items brought from home return home intact because there is no time to play with them.

Another great idea for show and tell is to give show and tell a theme.  A theme helps the children makes sense of the items brought in through opportunities to compare and contrast.  It also gives them the opportunity to show off their creativity based on how they interpret the theme and the item that they chose to fit that theme.  Here are some examples of themes that you might use for show and tell:

  • Ask the children to bring in something that starts with the letter ____ (you chose the letter).
  • Challenge the children to bring in something of a specific color. 
  • Think about the other themes that you are using in the classroom and ask the children to bring in something that is related, for example if you are studying autumn ask the children to bring in something that is related to autumn, or something that makes them think about autumn.  
  • Ask the children to share a favorite memory or talk about something that their family does for a holiday.
If you are really struggling with children bringing their “stuff” to the classroom then encourage your students to make a poster with photos of the item that they want to share (or their own drawings).  This still gives them the opportunity to share, and you can hang their display in the classroom after they have shared. 
Show and tell can be a great way to get to know your students, sometimes you just have to be a little creative in order to make it a positive, valuable experience for all of your students – and for yourself!

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