If you are confused how to calm and to get kindergarten students to sit nicely and pay attention for some time just say “It’s SHOW AND TELL time!”
I assure you they will sit nicely and quietly on the carpet, crossing their small legs, very excited to see what comes next.
Yes, last term we have started a new routine in English class in TK A and TK B, it is “Show and Tell”. There are several reasons why I initiated this activity. First, some students are quite shy to try to speak in English, even to repeat some English words. Second, Show and Tell is usually a good trigger for children to develop their communication skills in general (speaking and listening skills) since children love to show off their favorite things to their friends. Third, not only it will encourage them to tell stories about the object, but also to ask questions to their friends who are getting their turn to do Show and Tell. So, we do this every Tuesday and Thursday before the lesson and this proved to be their new favorite thing to do in English class, beside singing songs and playing games.
Saying “Good morning, friends” is a must to start every session. This is already a challenge because most of TK A students are quite new to English. Since this might be their first experience to be in front of an audience, they need to be reminded that facing the audience and speaking louder are very important to do. Some of them still speak Indonesian when explaining about their favorite things. When it was his turn, Lantang tried to explain about his big poster of different types of vehicles.
“Ini gambar motor”
“It’s motorcycle. Can you say it? Mo-tor-cy-cle.”
“Mo-tor-cy-cle. Yang ini belum nih Bu, ini truck.”
Despite the language barrier, all of them are very excited to describe their favorite things from home and to repeat some English words. When it comes to asking questions, some questions become very popular. “Where do you buy it? Who give it to you? Do you like it? Do you play it? Do you love it?” This may sound boring for adults but ‘repeating’ is one of the most effective ways to learn a language. Dulli, who was quite shy to speak English in the beginning of the year, finally asked a question confidently during a Show and Tell session “Do you like it?” It was truly a great moment to have.
Saying “Yes, I do” to those simple questions is also a good exercise. At first they usually nod or simply say ‘yes’, but now they already know how to answer questions like “Do you like it?” in a complete sentence: “Yes, I do”.
TK B students who are more advanced in English really enjoy to explain and to answer questions from their classmates. To spice things up, I try to be more playful with them by asking some ‘silly questions’. Apparently, they LOVE silly questions. One time, Matthew brought two Hulk action figures for Show and Tell. He was so excited to tell the differences between the two. Then I said “I have a silly question for Matthew”. Just saying that has successfully made some of them giggled “Oh no, silly questions!” and making “please-help-me-God” expressions which is putting your palms and head facing up.
“Matthew, why are your Hulks green? Why not blue? Or orange?”
TK B students burst with laughter.
Matthew who at first seemed confused with the question came up with the most creative answer.
“It’s because Hulk is professor and..and..and he eats green obat. That’s why he’s green.”
This time it was my turn to burst with laughter.
It’s one of the reasons why I love having Show and Tell in the classroom. You’ll never know what you may get. Mika, who were showing his animal T-shirt, told us that he got it from a zoo in Bali. I asked him “What did you see there?” with expectation of a long list of animals’ names. He answered and giggled at the same time “I saw monkeys and they have RED butts” O my goodness, everyone laughed so hard. This is a good example how children learn to use descriptive language during Show and Tell. We can also learn a great deal about children perspective about things around them.
And thanks to their parents who helped them to prepare, some students also came up with very well planned Show and Tell. Fara came up with an amazing story about coffee one day. She brought a dried coffee tree branch with coffee beans on it. She told us how she picked it from her family plantation in Gunung Salak. She also brought some ground coffee powder and Kopiko candy to show how coffee beans can be processed into different products.
Show and Tell is also a great boost of confidence for children. They love having the attention from their friends. For students who are still beginner in English or still very shy to be in front of an audience, they can only ‘show’ the object and things that you can do with it. Rafa showed us once how to put on his blue-framed glasses and Yodha made a cake with his red play dough on the other day.
When ‘silly questions’ suddenly become their favorite (e.g. “Can you eat it?” to Dimi who was showing a Koi fish book, or “Can you cook it?” to Rayi who was bringing a Ninja Turtle doll) and dominate the Q&A session, I try to turn it back to the right direction: “Well, I have a serious question for you.” Now, they can differentiate the two and ask them in a good balance. But even their serious question can be very surprising.
Once Matthew ask a serious question to Kei about his Superman costume.
“Kei, if the wind blows and the cape is moving like this (making the gesture), can you fly?”
“No, I mean if you stand up (take a pause, looking at Kei and try to make sure that Kei got his point) in a tall place and the wind blows and makes the cape moving (repeating the gesture), can you really fly?”
For Kei, it might be a silly question but Matthew really wanted to find out about the effect of the Superman costume to its owner. At this point, you can see how Show and Tell can be a simple tool to develop students’ critical reasoning skills.