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What is Show and Tell?

By Phil Shepley
Updated May 17, 2024
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When a child is in elementary school, most at one point or another will be involved in show and tell. It is one of the simplest activities that young students can engage in, where he or she gets in front of the rest of the class with a particular item and proceeds to show what it is while providing information about the item, such as where he or she got it, what it is used for, and how it works. The benefits of this activity are mainly to teach students about the skills of public speaking as well as the skills of audience participation and cooperation.

There can be many different variations of show and tell, all based on the same simple concept of showing an object and talking about it. One, for example, is for the teacher to determine a common theme for the activity, and all the participating students must base their objects around that particular theme. Examples of themes that can be used are seasons of the year, family-oriented objects, favorite toys, books, careers, or any of a limitless number of possibilities so the children can compare and contrast the differences in their similarly themed objects.

Another variation of this popular activity includes altering the number of students who are involved at a time. For example, groups of students can be assigned to show an object to the rest of the class, and this will teach them about group participation and turn-taking. Alternately, the time can be assigned to only one student per day or week, promoting individuality and allowing teachers to focus on single students at a time.

Children often look for unique and original ideas for objects to bring into school for show and tell. Many like to bring in objects that the other students may have never seen before and are unfamiliar with. Objects that are related to an interest that a child might have can also make for an enthusiastic presentation. Pets can be a good choice because of their uniqueness, but of course, the student should show a picture of the pet to the class instead of bringing in the actual animal, in most cases. The possibilities are endless, and that is why this remains one of the most rewarding school activities.

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Discussion Comments

By surfNturf — On Nov 02, 2010

Sunny27- There is a great show and tell story called, “The Show and Tell Lion.” In the story, the main character Matthew does not have anything for show and tell so he makes up a story about a lion in his head.

This story is a wonderful story about the vivid imagination that children have and how we often forget what a gift it really can be like in this story.

The book is geared toward children in kindergarten and first grade. Barbara Abercrombie wrote the book and Amazon sells it.

By Sunny27 — On Nov 02, 2010

Icecream17-I used to love show and tell as a kid in elementary school. My daughter had a show and tell once in elementary school and she spoke about her American Girl experience in New York.

She had a photo shoot there and the store gave her a copy of an American Girl magazine with her on the cover.

When she shared this with her classmates they loved it. She was the most popular girl in school that day because everyone was asking her questions.

This made her feel good about the public speaking experience which hopefully will continue as she gets older because most people fear public speaking.

By icecream17 — On Nov 02, 2010

Show and tell day in pre K is a great opportunity for these young children to express themselves and share some things with their classmates.

Developing verbal skills and having an opportunity to practice public speaking even at that age is very beneficial.

Sometimes teachers will create a show and tell blog for the parents in order for them to see what all of the children brought to class.

Usually the best show and tell show in class involves family trips that the children have taken. Children will easily be able to recall the events of the trip and their enthusiasm really makes for a great public speaking experience.

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