I think, quite often, teachers either love or hate Show and Tell in kindergarten. In some ways, it can be kind of like watching paint dry . . . your eyes glaze over . . . your mind wanders . . . and it all starts to sound the same.
“This is my Batman . . .”
Then either dead silence or instant chatter . . .
“I have a Batman . . .” “I saw Batman last night . . .” “I’m going to be Batman for Halloween.”
It makes for either a very boring or chaotic block of time that could seemingly be spent on more ‘important’ instructional activities.
Or maybe not . . . I discovered that it wasn’t Show and Tell that was the problem. I was just doing it all wrong. Luckily, I have discovered a better way and now, Show and Tell is not only fun and engaging for my students, but it’s such a huge part of language development (and eventually . . . writing) in my kindergarten class. There are two key ingredients that have helped me transform Show and Tell and make it the best part of the week in my class.
1. Introducing EET
Do you know EET? It’s not a new tool, but it definitely is a valuable one. I have used quite a bit in writing over the years. Basically, EET stands for Expanding Expression Tool! It’s basically a little multi-sensory tool that helps students develop oral language skills by developing descriptive language. Students use this visual tool, to help them organize and express their thoughts on a certain object or topic. By building these skills, your littlest learners develop language skills that eventually spill over into their writing. It has been great for writing, but it wasn’t until a teacher friend of mine told me she used it for Show and Tell a couple of years, that I really realized how important it was to my class.
I absolutely LOVE front loading descriptive writing by using this tool in a totally developmentally appropriate and desirable activity like Show and Tell. So here’s kind of how it works.
Each little ball on the EET (affectionately known as EETCHY in my classroom) represents a different way that students can express what they know about an object or topic. In this case, they use the tool to share whatever it is they brought or with to tell during Show and Tell.
- Green Group-What GROUP does this object belong to?
- Blue Do-What does it do? What do you do with it?
- Eye See – What does it look like?
- Wood – What is it made of?
- Pink Parts-What are the parts?
- White Where – Where can you get one? Where would you find it?
- Question – What else do I know? (For Show and Tell, this became What else do we want to know? And at this point, the ‘show and teller,’ would choose one person to ask a question about the item. This was a great way to teach them what a question versus a comment really was . . . I always give them the prompt, ‘I wonder . . .”
So let me give an example, remember that Batman action figure from before? Let’s pretend a little friend brings that in for Show and Tell. It might go something like this in my classroom . . .
- Green Group – “This belongs to things that are part of the DC Comic book characters.” or “It belongs to the superheroes that can fly group.”
- Blue Do – “It has this car that it rides in and when you pull it back, it can go really fast.”
- Eye See – “He’s black and he has pointed ears and a black long cape. You can’t see his face because of his mask.”
- Wood – (student taps on the outside of the toy) “It’s plastic.”
- Pink Parks – “He’s got his body . . . and then this cape that comes off, and the car he rides in–the Bat Mobile.”
- White Where? “I got this one from my Grandma when it was my birthday last week. My mom got me a bigger one that has a Bat-Plane that goes with it but it was too big for my backpack so I brought this one. “
- Questions: (Asked by a student in the audience. . .) “I wonder if you have any other DC action figures that you use when you play with this one.” (Student answers . . .) “No, but I have a ton of Marvel ones. I like the Hulk the best because he smashes.”
Or something like that . . .
These simple little visual prompts are SO incredibly helpful. I can’t even tell you. If you’d like to find out more about EET you can check out their website HERE. (No they’re not paying me or compensating me for giving them this endorsement. I just really like the product and wanted to share it with you!)
2. Make Them Feel Like a Star
Engagement is EVERYTHING in kindergarten, and this little tool, introduced to me and perfected by The Tutu teacher, is the sprinkles . . . the sparkles . . . the glitter . . . the cherry on top that makes my kinders absolute LOVE getting up in front of their peers and sharing.
In my Show and Tell experience, there have always been those shy little ones . . . those friends who were not confident . . . who lacked a robust vocabulary . . . who were learning English as a second language . . . who just didn’t feel comfortable getting up and speaking in front of their friends. And that was ok. I mean Show and Tell is voluntary in my classroom, but ever since I introduced this wireless microphone . . . Well, let’s say that I have 100 percent participation.
The Tutu Teacher has oodles of information on this device and how she uses it in her class, but for me in the two areas of instruction that I use it religiously –Writers Workshop (when students share what they have written) and Show and Tell –it has totally transformed these two activities. I LOVE it!!! You can see more about this particular microphone by clicking on the picture below or HERE. (It comes in different colors!) But really, go visit Vera over at The Tutu Teacher. She has amazing ideas.
Practical Show and Tell Tips
Of course, a microphone and expression tool won’t help you if you don’t have a good plan for Show and Tell. As with anything in kindergarten, you need to have a good plan. So here are some tips that will make it successful in your own classroom.
- Set clear expectations of behavior for listeners. Model it and practice it . . . over and over again.
- At the beginning of the year, kinder friends sitting through 25 friends sharing may seem a bit LONG . . . Believe me, it is. Break it up. My Show and Tell Day is Friday so I usually try and spread out my friends throughout the day. Three 15 minutes slots or so. Eventually, by the end of the year, I am only doing one slot and it takes me about 25 minutes. They have become quick and know the routine. Some teachers dedicate a certain day each week to a couple of students to share. Do whatever is manageable for you and yours.
- Have a ‘holding table’ or spot. This is where all Show and Tell items are held until it’s your turn to share. This way students aren’t playing with their Show and Tell while others are sharing, and they aren’t distracted. It helps them be better listeners for sure.
- I use ‘name sticks’ to pull names for sharing. It keeps my students guessing about who will be next and keeps their attention.
- Make sure parents understand and support Show and Tell by explaining why it is important.
I like to send out this simple little handout right before our first Show and Tell date. Parents who understand and support your goals for Show and Tell will take some time and help their child in selecting items or stories that are meaningful to them. This makes for a better Show and Tell experience all around for everyone.
If you’d like an EDITABLE copy of this handout, just click on the picture below for the link to the free download. The bottom will be blank so you can your own details. Justs open it using Adobe Reader and you should be good to go.
Here’s hoping you have a great year of interesting and memorable Show and Tell moments. You never know what a friend might share. The ‘dried giant toad carcass purse with a zipper down its belly’ is still the most memorable item ever shared in my classroom. (It was a gift from a grandparent who had traveled to another country!). I’d love to hear about your strangest sharing experience.