Show and Tell doesn’t look the same in every classroom. And sometimes it’s not called Show and Tell at all. For example, Maureen Prezioso’s class focuses on a Something Special Bag that’s paired with an interactive journaling activity. And each day in Anne Gardner’s class, students share “meaningful moments.” These might include accomplishments, upcoming events, or highlights about their favorite sports team.

Take a look at these nine teachers’ approaches, and find inspiration to bring some of these ideas in your own class:

Amanda Kristofferson“In my classroom, we do sharing time. Students get to bring in one thing from home, but it has to stay in their backpack all day. At the end of the day, the student sharing gets to sit in the teacher’s chair and waits until the class is showing them respect before they begin. They start out by giving two compliments to the audience (‘I like the way _____’s eyes are on me’ or ‘I appreciate that _____ has their hands in their lap’). I find this really invites the students to listen and give respect to the sharer. The student next shares three things about the object he or she has brought in and answers two questions about it. It’s definitely fun and exciting for students to share something special to them, and great practice for speaking in front of an audience. It teaches me a lot about each student to see what’s special to him or her. And it warms my heart to hear the questions the students ask about the object.

Random: I once had a student’s mom bring in his two pet ferrets for him to share — definitely a blast for all of the students. The questions he was asked about the ferrets were hilarious!” – Amanda’s Little Learners

Maureen Prezioso “Show and Tell in my kindergarten classroom is a Something Special Bag. The Something Special Bag is a colorful bag with a drawstring top (easy to make for someone who sews). It contains a brief instruction sheet and a journal. Students are asked to choose something that is special to them — a photograph, a souvenir from a trip, etc. — and write in the journal about why it’s special. When students arrive with the bag in the morning, they place it on my desk. I instruct them not to tell me what’s in the bag because I love surprises; the anticipation provides great fun throughout the day. At the end of the day the student comes to the front, stands by me, and carefully opens the bag to reveal his or her treasure. We read the message, and the student can call on two classmates to either ask a question or make a comment. At the beginning of the year, I ask parents or guardians to write the message with or for their child. And as the children begin to become independent writers, they take over writing the message.

The journal serves as a great visual for their growth in writing, and I stop and point that out to them throughout the year. The benefits of this fun, quick, and easy activity are invaluable. It provides a way to learn about each other, to connect with families, and to practice writing skills and presentation skills. Students who return to visit me years later always remember the Something Special Bag!” – Maureen Prezioso

Cahill's Creations“I use the last 10 minutes of the day for Show and Tell. Basically, I start by calling on the kids who did a great job all day. Sometimes they don’t have anything physical to share, so they tell the class something that’s happening in their lives. One student shared that her little brother was doing a great job potty training! I love this time of day because I get to see and hear in a nonthreatening way what’s important to them. I learn something from them, and they learn from each other. It helps build our classroom community!” – Cahill’s Creations

The Autism Vault“Every couple of weeks, we do Show and Tell. I work with middle-school students with autism, and it’s a great way to get them talking. It’s motivating since they’re discussing something that they love. There are certain students in my classroom who are nonverbal, so I make sure to have communication-choice boards available to them. The students with more advanced communication skills ask questions about the items other students brought in.” – The Autism Vault

Lisa Markle Sparkles Clipart and Preschool Fun“I recently started teaching PreK, and the class was very excited to reinstate a weekly Show and Tell day. At that age, it’s incredibly difficult (and probably developmentally inappropriate) to keep fifteen excited 4-year-olds listening and quiet while one child gets up and shyly mumbles about their toy. So I’ve reworked it into a social, child-directed activity. The students all get their objects out of their book bags and sit on the ‘circle time’ rug. I remind them of the rule: We respect each other by only touching our own object and listening to each other. Then they all get up and walk over to another student, telling the other student about their object and asking them about theirs. This seems to work much better for this age group because it’s active and entertaining. And no one’s getting deprived of their time to shine, which often happens toward the end of traditional Show and Tell when we have to constantly remind the students to sit down and be respectful of the child speaking!” – Lisa Markle Sparkles Clipart and Preschool Fun

Evil Math Wizard“My combined 4th and 5th grade class has grown up a bit and doesn’t need to bring in toys to share, but they still want to share events and moments. So we have crew circle every morning. We go around sharing props when students can give praise to another student, proud moments when students can voice something they’re proud of doing, ‘pologies when students take the time to apologize to each other, and problems when we problem-solve any issues together. It’s powerful (sorry about that), and everyone gets a chance to share.” – Evil Math Wizard

Anne Gardner“I prefer a ‘meaningful moments’ style of sharing. Each day, several students share meaningful moments that might include accomplishments, events, highlights of their sports teams, enjoying their favorite foods, and more. With SmartBoards, these meaningful moments can easily be recorded and projected for the class to read. When compiled over the course of a week, these make a great attachment to send home with classroom newsletters. Kids are highly motivated to read these meaningful moments to their families. An added bonus: Background knowledge is automatically built in, as kids readily recall what their friends have shared.” – Anne Gardner

Get Caught Engineering - STEM for Kids“In my 4th grade class, I incorporated sharing into our Student of the Week program. Each day, the student of the week would have a special event. One of the activities was a bulletin board about them with information about their favorite color, favorite food, sport, and more. Another activity during the week was having them share their favorite book during our Language Arts period. Another day featured ‘What’s in the bag?’ sharing. They were given a lunch-sized brown paper bag and they could bring in items that were special to them (but had to fit into the bag). The final activity in the week was something that everyone looked forward to. The week before, I would ask the parents (or other relative) to write a letter about what was wonderful and special about their child and send it to me in a sealed envelope. We would gather together on the rug with the student of the week sitting next to me, and I would open the letter and read it to the child and class. The letters were so sweet. Sometimes they were poems about the child and sometimes essays, but always wonderful. If a parent was unable to write in English, I had them write in their native language and I’d get it translated. The class loved this culminating event. When I finished reading, the letter I’d always ask the child if they had a place they kept things that were special, and I’d instruct them to keep the letter in this place so they could save it and read it again when they were old like me. Ha!” – Get Caught Engineering – STEM for Kids

Autism Educators“We do Show and Share, which includes visuals and scripted questions for my kids with autism who are developing their communication skills. We even have one of my nonverbal little guys participating using these visual supports. The kids share anything and everything that’s important to them, from a small special toy to a vacation journal. We’ve added this activity to our schedule every Friday morning, and my class really looks forward to it. So do I!” – Autism Educators

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However you do these types of sharing activities, one thing’s for sure: It’s experiences like these that help teach kids the importance of good communication, good listening, patience, and mutual respect. And that’s something we can all get behind.