Show and tell

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By Fe McKerrelleducation writer, researcher and former primary teacher

Discover how to make your sessions go beyond the favourite toy…

Teacher with toy puppet

Image © bananastock/jupiterimages/gettyimages

Do your show and tell sessions lack pizazz? Are they always tagged on to the end of the day? Can you bear to sit through another session about favourite toys? Approaching show and tell with forward planning and creative thinking will not only brighten up these weekly sessions but also help children to get to grips with their individuality and broaden their vocabulary.

One summer term, a few years ago, I was gently coaxing one of my Reception children to tell the class something, anything, about his rubber dinosaur. I realised that he genuinely had nothing to tell us about it. Yes, he liked playing dinosaurs with it, and yes he had picked it up at the Natural History Museum two weeks ago, but beyond that he was pretty uninspired by his toy. What the children needed was inspiration, so I set about developing an alternative approach that would breathe new life into show and tell.

Delicious dishes

In my class, we had been chatting a lot about lunches and food, so I sent a note home explaining that for their next show and tell session the children should choose their favourite meal and bring in something to represent it. I also sent home some key questions that the children might be asked during their session (What do you like about this meal? What are the key ingredients? Where does the dish originate from?). The ‘Favourite food’ theme lasted for half a term, with five children doing their show and tells in each weekly session. Over the next few weeks there was a buzz in the classroom. Little chats took place in the book corner (now full of recipes books and food magazines) about the children’s favourite dishes. There was talk of time, cost and measurements in the home corner (now a restaurant) and a dish of the day with its country of origin was posted on the ‘restaurant’ chalk board. Show and tell was infiltrating every area of the classroom.

Children brought in recipe books, pictures, photographs, paintings and ingredients for their show and tell session. Some children had photographs of themselves making or eating their favourite dish. One child even brought in their favourite pasta salad for the children to taste. My teaching assistant and I joined in and we did our own show and tell session as well – the children loved quizzing us on our choices.

A planned approach

As the new school year approached, my colleagues and I introduced a range of new show and tell sessions to fit in with our plans and the children’s interests. The results were phenomenal. The themes, which ranged from simple ideas, such as ‘my favourite book’, to more complex ones, were open to interpretation so the children could create whatever they liked.

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