Show n' tell - Sharing Time- Valuable Lessons Learned- Teachers, Parents and Children

g. kirklandholmesStarred Page By g. kirklandholmes, 23rd Jul 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Education

Children all over the world participate in a sharing or show n' tell experience. While this is a very popular opportunity for those who participate, Early Childhood teachers still question and ponder over whether their precious classroom time should be used for this purpose. One teacher shares how this is a very valuable learning experience for children, teachers and families.

Show n' Tell Time

Show n' tell is a special time in the lives of young children. They look forward to going to day care and or school to share with others. It's a very special time and it doesn't matter what we call it show n' tell or sharing. But some people thing that there are differences. But I'm not assured that there are major differences.
Show n' tell in some settings mean that a child is allowed to show some object and then tell about it. Others merely think the child is given an option of showing something or telling some information.

Then sharing time is the major focus of the process of allowing children to participate in a large or small group discussion of sharing objects, items or verbal information. During this process children are to be in control and are allowed the option of choosing which experience is appropriate for them at the time.

Sharing- Talking or Telling?

As teachers of young children are asked questions about this experience of show n' tell, does it mean talking or telling? Everyone is aware of some children who need no encouragement to talk! They can talk, talk, talk and talk! Some like talking so much until the teacher may have to give the child a reminder that other children would like to talk also.

Now there are some children who specialize in "telling." They really may not need an object or item because they would rather tell and tell lots. Now as an early childhood teacher, I should caution parents that we are not responsible for what your child tells, wow that included my own four children.

How many times in our lifetime have our children gone to school, church or other places and told some of the family business that you didn't even know that they heard.
Telling is a form of sharing very important and valuable news and information
that children feel empowered to share. As the child's name is called, they very excitedly and happily come to the front of the group, revealing, "My mom and dad are getting a divorce." (Silence from everyone including the teacher). Four year-old Bizinnina raises her hand, "What is a divorce?" The child answers the question. "It's when your mom and dad fight a lot. Then they get tired of fighting. So me and my mom and baby sister are moving to a new home." Then the teacher joins in and says,
"We'll talk about it some more during our group time. I have a new book and we will read it about divorce. Thank you Jametta for sharing."

Language Development Enhancement

Many early childhood educators feel that show n' tell, sharing times are so critical to the language developmental skills of young children that it should happen every day and as often as possible.

Four year-old Audranna was transferred to my class in the summer. She had spent the other half of the school term in another teacher's classroom. But the principal knew that I was a very strong advocate and supporter of children's language development skills. I just felt in my heart that if the child could talk, it was our responsibility to help young children to learn how to use language to their maximum potential.

So the first day that I met Audranna, I observed her actions rather closely.They told me that while she was in the other class for a substantial amount of time, she "refused" to talk.They also told me that all of that time, she had never uttered one sound. They weren't sure she could talk.

Well, I believed that she could talk. She came from a beautiful family of communicators. Mom was a "stay-at-home" mom and gave she and her brother lots of positive attention. Dad was a weather forecaster at one of the local television stations. So I just trusted my instincts that this beautiful girl could talk.

Finding Out About Language Use At Home

One of the suggestions during our first week as preschool and kindergarten teachers, was that we teachers should go on a few homevisits. So the other teacher who had her previously decided to go along with me on the visit and I set out to Audranna's home.

When we arrived the family was happily awaiting our visit. Mom,Audranna and brother met us at the door. Dad was at work. Audranna smiled and said, "Wanna see my room?" Well her previous teacher and I were already shocked, first that she greeted us and then wanted to invite us to see her room.

Since this is not the article that I am writing about the values of homevisits, I'll focus on the value of safe, familiar and supportive environments that support young children's language development skills. If we could hold a magic wand and find out which of the magical touches cause young children to talk, which one would it be.
So some people choose to call some children who will not talk or speak when in certain environments or around certain people, "selective mutes." That is they choose not to talk- pretty powerful weapon.!

Listening Skills Enhancement

My teacher goal was to find out if Audranna was one of the chosen, "selective mutes."
I felt like I was well prepared for relating to them. I had three the year before and I learned how to really help each one to talk. Some of the people in my school felt that was my area of specialty- language development of young children. I think so also. As I got deeper into my professional career, including my doctoral dissertation, research on the language development skills of young children was among my greatest interest. I believe my personal background encouraged me to become very interested in children's language development skills. I learned at a very young age in Charleston,
South Carolina that listening was a very important skill if I wanted to learn! I had to learn how to listen closely to my teachers. I had to learn to listen carefully to other children in my classroom as well as my community. Then I know it was critical that I listened to my family, the neighborhood and people with whom I came in direct or indirect contact with. The sounds they uttered were critical to my academic and social skills development!

Understanding Native Languages and Family Languages- Sharing

As a teacher, show n' tell, sharing, language development and listening skills were all natural parts of my life. Little did I know that all of these early experiences would help prepare me for my future career in teaching!

Growing up on the islands in South Carolina is one of the most valuable learning experiences for me as a young girl. It is so important to help children to feel positive about their native land, and those around them. We were taught to love everyone and to treat everyone with respect regardless of their race, ethnicity, cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds. So listening intently to everyone's use of language was quite an honor as a child. One would think that perhaps I would become an actress! It was amazing how everyone spoke so differently. There were so many accents, voice tones, intonations and substitutions for standard english. Later I learned that there were many Africans who resided in South Carolina, who brought forth a rich language representing many tongues of Africa intertwined with the English language. So our teachers understood and accepted all of our different language foundations. They modeled good english, for those of us who were skilled at code-switiching. As I went on to college, I didn't realize the differences in language throughout the United States until most of my friends began to ask me if I was from Africa, the Bahamas, or Jamaica. I was asked this so much, I started having a little fun by speaking with a more intense dialect similar to those of Carribean Islands.
Thus, I was well prepared when we started getting more students with english as the second language.

Learning the Art of Taking Turns

So our homevisit to Audranna's home proved beneficial with her speaking to us rather comfortably just as her mother had told her in regards to her language developmental skills. So this was all the information that I needed to help me to help Audranna succeed in our classroom.

So the next day when she arrived in the classroom, I was prepared to observe her actions after knowing that I knew she could talk. Upon her entrance, she immediately went to her same behavior, acting as if she could not talk. All of the children gathered around her because she came in with a big, talking African American doll, all dressed in pink. Amazingly, she was dressed just like her doll. So I was able to use that as our opening conversation:

"Hello Audranna. I was so happy that I got to come to your home on last night. I was so happy that you talked to me at your home. I am so happy to know that you will talk to me here at school too." She looked at me, but seemed content with what I had just said.
The children began to ask her could they hold her doll. She was very happy to allow them to share her doll. She did this by handing the doll to the child closest to her. She did not utter a sound.

"Audranna, can I hold your doll next? said Brittani. "Audranna, can I be next after Brittani?" Audra would nod her head, without making a sound. As each of the children asked her the same or a similar question, I realized that without her uttering a sound, she was teaching the children all about taking turns, waiting patiently and sharing, all in a realistic way. I said, "Thank you Audranna for helping our friends to share and wait their turn- a very valuable skill for all of the children! Pretty cool doll also.

A Language Experience Chart- Sharing Audranna's New Doll

After each child had a turn to hold the doll, I decided that this would be a great time to attempt to engage Audranna in a sharing conversation. While she did an excellent job of non-verbally allowing the children to share with her, as the teacher, I thought this was a great time to allow the children to hear her voice.

So I started singing the sharing song, "Everybody come to the sharing circle, come to the sharing, come to the sharing circle, please."
The children quickly came to the sharing carpet! They love sharing time. Some of them ran to get their items out of their lockers. They knew that this was a special time for all of them.
I told them that we were going to do a special sharing language experience chart and that we would have small group sharing later in the afternoon.
So as they returned to the carpet. I asked Audranna to join me in the "Sharing Teacher's chair. Each day a child, got to be the sharing teacher and led the sharing time to help keep it more child-centered rather than teacher centered.
As she came right up, I placed the "Sharing Teacher Apron" on her. She smiled. Oh this is a good sign. I worried as to whether she was so genuinely shy as to one of the reasons she hesitated about talking in the class!

"Boys and girls, we are going to write a sharing language experience chart about Audranna's doll since she so nicely allowed each of you to hold the doll. Audranna,
I will hold up each of our friend's name card and you can say their name or point to them. Now, if you prefer you can whisper their name to me in my ear. So as I began holding up the name cards, at first she said nothing. Then the children started to be cheerleaders. They would say the name on the card, and then they said, "say it Audranna. She looked at them seriously. Then she finally whispered the first child's name to me. Of course they couldn't hear her, so they started say, "I heard you." They could hear a whispering sound and the movement of her lips. They were shocked but also very happy for her! Then they started say, "That's great how you are talking."

The Children Helped Audranna with Sharing!

As Audranna called each child's name, they shared what they like about Audranna's doll.
Our experience chart looked something like this!
Audranna's Doll

Bobby- I liked the doll's pink hair bow.
Maikay- I liked Audranna's dolls pink shoes
Jamika- I liked the doll's smile
Tommy- I liked the dolls song she can sing.
Marianne- I like the doll's pink pants and jacket
Jessia- I liked the doll's hair
Myneah- I liked the doll
Luke- I liked the doll's purse
Miguel- I liked Audranna's doll's buggy (stroller)
Seth- I liked the doll's bookbag
Jamie- I liked the doll's pretty hair with the ribbons

After writing what each child said, we read the chart back before Audranna took her seat! We hung the sharing chart up in the hallway!

Why Do You Bring that Same Toy Everyday?

Johhny brought the same car everyday. One of the children said to him, "That again." I had to have a conversation with the group about respect for each other. Johnny had been bringing the same red car everyday for the past three months.
Now, this is the first time that a child made a verbal comment about his bringing the same toy again.
As an early childhood teacher, I had seen this many times before. For various reasons a child may bring the same toy daily. I remember telling one of my student teachers who was a future teacher that this is something that she needs to learn to understand.
We must not look down on a child who brings the same thing everyday. As an experienced teacher I learned that there are many possible reasons why.
1) Even as adults there are some things that we become attached to. Why is it that there are some things that we like and feel comfortable taking with us?
2) For some children it may be the first and only toy that they received.
3) For some children it may be something that reminds them of something for a particular reason/purpose
4) For some children they may bring the same item for no special reason
5) For some children, this item may be placed in a safe place that they know where it is when they come to school.
6) For some children it may be the only item that is with them because they live in transition and may not be in one stable place.

So not worrying about why the child is bringing the same item everyday, will help everyone to feel more accepting of each other.

Who Brings What- Is It Important or Not?

It is not important who brings what. There are some classroom rules in regards to what children bring to share. In conversing with different teachers out in the field, it is amazing their understanding and perception of what children should be allowed to bring to the setting for sharing.
1) Some teachers feel that children should not be allowed to bring any thing expensive to school or in the setting. They don't want to feel responsible in case something is lost or broken.
2) Some teachers also feel that children shouldn't bring certain things to the classroom environment. They feel that it may promote competition of sharing items.
3) Some teachers feel that it is important for children to only be allowed to bring something related to the theme or topic of study of the day.
4) Some teachers feel that children should be allowed to only share what they are asked to bring- if they bring something different, they won't be allowed to share.
5) Some teachers limit the number of items children can bring and therefore share.
They feel that this could take too long if children are not limited.

If you were an early childhood teacher, would you agree with any of these knowing the value and importance of sharing/show n' tell to young children?

What Can I Share?

There are always questions about what children can share. As a teacher, it was early in the morning and most of the children had not arrived yet. When the child came running into the classroom, he said, "Teacher, teacher, look what I found." To my amazement, he had found a dead bird outside of the school. Now to be honest, the last thing that I wanted to see at 8:15 in the morning was a dead bird!

So I had to get myself together real quickly because after all, I am a trained early childhood teacher. We were trained that "it is not about us, but it is about the children."
So I told the child to wait while I got a box to put it in. I went into the other room and found a shoe box. The child was so happy. Then as the other children arrived, he wanted all of them to see.
As the day progressed, I found a book about the death of a pet. I read it to the children. In the book, the children had a funeral and wrote notes to the pet before actually burying it. We had a funeral and went outside and buried the bird!- Amen!
Then after the funeral, I had to hear so many death of pets stories until it finally ended.
So children should be all ready to move on in life.

How Often Should I Share?

This is another controversial topic. Now in my teaching career, I have seen lots of different patterns or days of when a child is allowed to share. Notes are sent home early during the duration of the educational setting for the child. In these, the rules of sharing are shared: 1) What a child can or can not bring
2) How often sharing occurs-
3) The sharing day for each child
4) Rules about sharing from the home perspective- live pets, ie.

So here are a few of the sharing patterns that I have seen teachers use. Most of them are centered around the teacher's perception that sharing will take too long for the children if every child shares.

Pattern One
Child shares one day a week- same day each week- ie. Tuesday
Child shares every other week- same day every two weeks
Child shares once a month- list of designated days sent home
Child shares based on the first letter of their last name
"Star of the Week" or "Child of the Week"- these children may share once during the year
*Every child shares every day of the week throughout the duration of the year if desired.
There are a few more patterns that are related to these, but may be a little more confusing and inconsistent!

Experts in the field of early childhood education recommend that every child be allowed to share everyday if they desire!

Is This A Child Thing, A Parent Thing or Teacher Thing?

As we begin to come to a closure on this topic. One must ask is this show n' tell, sharing thing about the child? Or is it a comfort zone for the teacher- who can't deal with the challenge of every child having the right to share? Or does it take away from too many of the academic expectations for the children?

Are parents willing to help the child find something at home that is appropriate and that they would like to share? Are parents willing to move beyond their own personal opinions about what they would like the child to take to school to share?

Are parents and teachers willing to take a close look at the value of these experiences to the child, rather than seeing who can be most impressive through their sharing items. This can promote unnecessary competition among the children.
It should be a child thing!

I'm Too Shy to Share?

There are some children who are genuinely shy. This is something I learned as I began to observe some children closer. Why is it that we as adults say that we are shy or feel too shy or uncomfortable going in front of a group and not think that children could feel the same way?

What are the signs of an extremely shy child. The most important thing for us to remember is to give children the opportunity to share if they want to. Sharing is not a time to force children to participate. But as the time passes during the term, it is our responsibility to help a child move from level to another. We must also remember that some children are just like us adults, if we don't receive a little push, sometimes,we may never move from one level to another.
If children are indeed shy, sometimes it may help if they begin by sharing with the teacher, then move to one or two children, then small group and large group sharing would be the final step. Also for some children, they may start with just showing what they brought as a confidence-builder, then during the progressive stages, begin to add words to correspond with some of the shown objects/items.

Every Child Should Have A Chance to Share!

Now, remember that according to experts in the field of early childhood education, if we are promoting the benefits of sharing and show n' tell, we would have no difficulties with allowing a child to share everyday. There should also be time when needed for impromptu sharing that may occur during a different time or intervals of the day.
I became a believer when I observed a child four years old come running into the school with a photograph of his new baby brother who had just been born a couple of hours before he came to school. As the child approached his preschool teacher, so excited and proud, she said to him, "Oh but Johnny this is not your day to share." The child began to cry and I began to cry inwardly. Seeing that confirmed for me the importance o allowing every child to share everyday so that I would not have to make such a statement, "but it is not your day to share." That lifelong experience of the birth of a new sibling will be long remembered by this child. But guess what, the actions of that teacher will also be long remembered by that child.
Another example of a child who would have been very disturbed by our actions and lack of understanding. It was the first day of winter and it was snowing outside for the first time. The child ran inside the classroom to show me a hand full of snow that he picked up- fresh white snow. So I said to the child, let's get a container to put your snow in because I am sure the children will want to see your snow. I already knew from experience that the snow as going to melt. We put it in a container, and it did take a little while before it was completely melted.
But as the other children came in, the child who found the snow showed it to them one by one- of course some of them had recognized the fact that the snow had melted and continued to melt!
Or the child who came in with a cast on the leg because he fell off his bicycle. He wanted all of his friends to write their names on his cast. That was a big task. The children had many questions for him.
But then when we had live pet sharing day, that was one of the most exciting days of sharing. So we had the parents to wait outside the classroom, so one pet could come in at a time to share! Quite a big sharing venture!

No matter what you believe or don't believe, please don't deny a child the opportunity to share when it could be the sharing time of their lives! Happy Sharing and show n' tell time!


Sharing, Sharing Games, Sharing Information, Sharing Toys, Show, Show Others, Telling About Experiences, Telling Others, Telling Stories

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author avatar g. kirklandholmes
I am an early childhood educator and taught pre-school-kindergarten multi-age grouping classes and early childhood courses at the University of Northern Iowa. I also publish with

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author avatar Denise O
24th Jul 2012 (#)

What a wonderful educator you are. A lot of great tips on sharing and how it is utilized to make you a better teacher and them better students. Lovely read. Congrats on the star page, it is well deserved. Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar g. kirklandholmes
25th Jul 2012 (#)

Thank you- one day I will write another one about all of the funny things young children share verbally at school! Thank you so much for your lovely and encouraging comment!

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author avatar Andy S
19th Jul 2017 (#)

Thoroughly enjoyed your post. I'd say that the early years of education, that is, daycare, preschool, kindergarten are vital in shaping how a kid actually grasps information around him/her which makes the role of these schools all the more important. I think that kids should be allowed to learn in their own way, which makes Reggio Emilia based schools a suitable choice for early education.

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