When I reflect back on my own days as a preschooler, Kindergartener, and elementary school student, I remember “Show & Tell” as a fun, personalized activity—which occurred only a few times a year. I don’t recall any rules in regard to the items we selected to bring in (which is not to say that there were none), nor do I remember any prompts or guidelines. You had something cool to stand up in front of the class and talk about? Great!
Boom. Done. Simple.
Flash forward 20-something years to this past fall. My daughter kicked off her second year of preschool, and I was legitimately excited that her Show & Tell days were beginning. For her very first Show & Tell, there were no stipulations; and Harper brought her “field journal” of the butterfly garden project we did together over the summer. How fun this will be! I thought. I can’t wait to see what else she wants to share with her class!
Then, during the second week of school, a roadblock: Every Wednesday, I was told, the students would draw a letter of the alphabet out of a hat. Then, on the next class day, they were required to bring in something that begins with that letter.
This didn’t concern me much until the third week of school, when my daughter climbed into the car carrying a handout: “Dear Parent: Your child’s letter this week is ‘U.’ Please bring a Show & Tell item beginning with the letter ‘U’ on Friday. Thanks!”
OK, I consoled myself, we can do this. Umbrella starts with “U.” And I’m pretty sure she has a stuffed unicorn somewhere.
Harper then handed me a small fabric pouch. “Oh, Mommy? They gave these to us today.”
“What is this?” I asked.
“It’s our Show & Tell pouch,” she explained. “Whatever we bring for Show & Tell has to go in there.”
Hmmm, an item that begins with “U”…that is also small enough to fit inside an 8” x 6” pouch? This is going to be trickier than I thought.
“Well, what do you want to bring? We have to think of something that starts with a ‘U.’”
Just scratching the surface of her knowledge of phonics and knowing only a handful of “U” words, Harper shrugged. “I don’t know. Ooooh! A unicorn, maybe? A real one!
“Uhhh, that’s a great idea, Harp, but I don’t know if we can find a real unicorn to come to school by Friday. And I don’t think it would fit in your pouch.”
Sooo, an item that begins with “U”…that can fit inside the equivalent of a quart-sized Ziplock…and that actually exists. Tough criteria.
Call it pregnancy-brain-that-I-still-have-not-fully-recovered-from-even-though-my-child-is-almost-five or just one of those days, but I thought about potential ideas the entire drive home and was still empty-handed by the time we pulled into the driveway.
Naturally, I turned to social media for inspiration and implored my Facebook friends to help me brainstorm. When someone suggested “uncle,” I knew we had a winner. A picture of my little brother, whom my daughter adores, would be a perfect fit. Harper & I combed my computer for pictures of her beloved “Uncle Carson,” printed them out, and sealed them up in her Show & Tell pouch. She was pumped to show off my little brother’s pictures to her class, and the fact that he long ago attended the same school that she does now—with, amazingly, the same teacher—only gave her extra ammo for discussion.
Although our letter “U” situation turned out to be a successful scramble, I wanted to be a bit more prepared for future Show & Tell sessions. So, Harper & I compiled a “master list” of Show & Tell ideas, with various items for each letter of the alphabet. These days, when Show & Tell falls upon us, I read all of the options we have listed for Harper’s respective letter, and she chooses which idea she likes best.
Some of the items on our list are specific and not-so-creative; others will appeal to your child’s imagination. Some are wearable, which is always a big hit with little kids; others are edible; and many fall under broader categories such as colors, shapes, etc. These ideas are not there to trump your child’s, nor are they limited to their intended purpose. Alternatively, homeschooling parents or those simply looking to work on letter sounds with their child(ren) may find these useful to incorporate in “letter of the day” activities or even verbal exercises. The possibilities for how you may choose to use this list are endless, as are the number of word options you can add to it. Happy Show & Tell-ing!
“A” is for…
alphabet (blocks, puzzle pieces, foam letters, etc.)
“B” is for…
baby (baby doll, bottle, etc.)
“C” is for…
Christmas (a Christmas card, drawing of a Christmas tree, ornament, etc.)
collage (a fun one for you and your child to create together!)
collar (borrowed from the family pet, perhaps?)
“D” is for…
Disney (a souvenir or picture from Disney World, a Disney toy, etc.)
doctor (a toy doctor’s kit or doctor’s supplies)
“E” is for…
“F” is for…
first place ribbon (maybe that your child won? alternatively, you can always create your own)
the number five (e.g., five fingers, five toes, five of the same item)
“G” is for…
“Greatest Teacher EVER!” certificate (if you’re looking for extra brownie points!)
“H” is for…
Halloween (a Halloween mask, costume, or picture from previous Halloween)
Honey Nut Cheerios
house (a picture or drawing of your family’s residence)
“I” is for…
ice cream cone
“J” is for…
joke (an age-appropriate joke written on a strip of your paper that your child could tell in class)
jigsaw puzzle piece
“K” is for…
kisses (e.g., a piece of paper with lipstick kisses all over it)
killer whale (e.g., Shamu)
“L” is for…
letters (Scrabble tiles, foam letters, etc.)
“M” is for…
Mickey/Minnie Mouse (mouse ears, perhaps?)
matching items (socks, gloves, etc.)
“N” is for…
name (an item with your child’s name on it)
“O” is for…
opposites (black & white items, etc.)
“P” is for…
“Q” is for…
“R” is for…
roadrunner (UTSA fan gear, perhaps?)
“S” is for…
“T” is for…
tooth (your child’s tooth fairy pillow, maybe?)
tickets (to past events that your child attended)
“U” is for…
ultrasound (your child’s sonogram photo)
“V” is for…
“The Velveteen Rabbit”
“W” is for…
wedding (picture of you & your husband on your wedding day)
wish (an item that your child wished for and got or a drawing of something they wish for)
“X” is for…
x-ray (doctor’s offices and radiology clinics discard old x-rays all the time—just call and ask for one!)
“X marks the spot” (you can get super creative with this one!)
Xerox (a Xerox copy of your child’s hand, etc.)
a letter signed “XOXOXO”
Cabbage Patch doll (all of them are signed on their dimpled bottoms by Xavier Roberts!)
“Y” is for…
year (a calendar or items having to do with the current year)
yesterday (use a calendar to demonstrate the concept)
yummy (actual “yummy” items or pictures of different foods/things your child loves)
YUCK! (same as above–actual “yucky” items or pictures of different foods/things your child hates)
“Z” is for…
This post was originally published in January 2014 and was updated in December 2021.