Use Show and Tell to teach math and science
Show and Tell is meant to be fun and educational for children, but often parents, students and teachers have problems with it. After much experimentation, I created a model that worked well for all.
Show and Tell can be a great opportunity to teach science and math concepts.
When all children bring the same item, such as a rock or a feather, it is easy to integrate learning new, or reviewing old, science, math, and literacy concepts.
In a nutshell the process works like this:
- pick one day a week for the show and tell activity and schedule it as part of math and science time
- everyone in the class brings the same item
- the teacher brings a few extra items for the children who forget
- students bring the items into the class at the beginning of the day, label them with name tags and put them on the Show and Tell display table
- schedule time for students to look at and talk about the items
- as a group, compare or contrast items, weigh them, graph them, teach new vocabulary etc.
- model recording observations
- have students record observations
Please read my article at Ezine Articles for a complete explanation of how it works.
Sample Year Show and Tell list
When creating a yearly Show and Tell list to send home to parents in September, put the date first, then the item to bring, illustrated with a simple drawing and finally a brief description of what the class Show and Tell activity will be.
Here is a sample yearly list to send to parents in the beginning of the school year. I usually choose objects that reinforce monthly themes.
- An apple (not for snack) sorting, classifying and measurement
- A vegetable vocabulary, sorting, comparisons of size, mass, and colors, making real graphs
- A favorite book graphing similar types, observing titles and author words on cover, number of the same unit blocks to cover surface of book
- Something round math vocabulary, edges, face, circle, circular, classifying items by a variety of criteria such as size
- A dried seed head or other seeds classifying, observation drawing with magnifying glasses
- Something square same kind of activities as round above
- A leaf sorting shapes, colors, counting points, graphing similar types, tracing leaf shapes on papers then creating charts of similar and different
- A magnet variety available, uses of, observations and recording observations
- A rock sorting, classifying and measurement
- Something made of wood sort by colors, vocabulary smooth, rough, dull, shiny, initial sounds in names of items
- Something rectangular - math vocabulary, corner, face, sides, edges, classifying items by a variety of criteria
- Something about Canada (map, flag, book, trinket) Canadian symbols, awareness of map shapes, shapes of provinces, graphing occurrences of similar symbols
December (short month)
- Something triangular
- Something shiny comparison, vocabulary reflection, reflect
- Something transparent compare with non-transparent items (opaque, translucent)
- An old greeting card measurement of length with blocks, will the same number of one inch squares cover all the cards? classifying holiday images
- Something cylindrical - math vocabulary, classifying items by a variety of criteria
- Something that floats observation in water tub, float higher, lower, recording observation
- A kitchen gadget what does it do, can it do more than one task, usefulness of item, graph what they are made from (plastic, metal, wood)
- Something red shades of red (black added) tints of red (white added), more or fewer, counting
- Something made of metal types of metal, classify by various criteria, dull shiny, using the balance scales, heavier, lighter, shape vocabulary
- 100 of something in a bag (100 day) volume study, mass comparison, counting in groups of ten
- Something patterned awareness of pattern, copying a pattern, extending patterns
March - (shorter month - Spring Break)
- Something that can be recycled knowledge of recycling, classifying items, counting
- Something made of leather comparison, graphing
- A branch (about 6) with blossoms observation drawing, vocabulary - stem, blossom, bud, leaves
- A spring flower plant vocabulary, classify by number of petals, pattern of leaf growth
- Something about time (an old watch or clock, an hourglass, a picture of a sundial, a book) general awareness of the concept of time, history of time keeping
- Something blue tints and shades, vocabulary, sort and count, classify
- A feather - sorting, classifying and measurement by length
- Something from a tree (bark, pine cone )
- Something soft - vocabulary builder (squashy, squishy, doughy, spongy ), classification by soft, softer, softest,
- Two items that rhyme create book, draw other things that rhyme
- Something green - tints and shades, vocabulary blue greens, yellow greens, sort and count, classify, graph
- A shell - sorting, classifying and measurement, observation drawings
- Something from another country classify by countries, locate on globe or map
- A fairy tale book - graphing similar types, observing titles and author words on cover
Sample Show and Tell Lesson
The children place their Show and Tell items on the center of the carpet, then sit down in a circle around them. Start with observation type questions.
"What do you notice about the ...? How are they the same? How are they different? Lets sort the ...by size. Which looks the largest? Which is the smallest? Lets make a long line. Everybody takes a turn placing his or her ... with student or teacher suggestions to rearrange items when necessary.
Now lets sort the ... by darker colors and lighter colors. We can put the ...on this mat and the ... on the other mat.
Continue with further investigations. Examples, Are there more brown ... or more orange ...? Are there fewer ... or fewer ...?
When there is a large quantity of the same object it is easy to use them for:
- Observing with magnifying glasses
- Extending vocabulary
- Sorting and classifying
- Making and labeling collections
- Writing about "what I noticed"
Demonstrate an observation drawing on chart paper. Read "Encouraging students to record their observations" for an example of how to verbalize your thinking process as you draw. Stamp the drawing with a date stamp. Once you have modeled what you want the children to do, have them repeat the process.
This method of Show and Tell worked well for the children, their parents and for me. All the children had an opportunity to be involved for every Show and Tell day and reviewing old, or learning new, science, math, and literacy concepts were a part of each experience.