I was a shy kid, so the words ‘show and tell’ terrified me. I don’t think I really got the hang of public speaking until I was at university and having to present in tutorial groups. Now, seeing my son agonise over ‘talks’ for school projects, I’m looking for activities we can do together, to make his journey a little easier. Here are five activities you can do at home, to help develop public speaking skills in your children:
‘My best day ever’ – recount
For younger kids, recount telling and writing is a good introduction to both speaking in front of an audience and writing independently. Ask your child to think about what has been one of their ‘best days ever’ and to write bullet points, or even just a reminder word on a card or small piece of paper. Help them to practice turning their written cues into a sentence or two. Then, agree on a timeframe for their talk (maybe 3 minutes?) and see if they’d like to present their ‘best day ever’ talk to a friend or family member.
You could do this around the dinner table or with a group of children together – even an entire classroom! Write out a series of ‘story starter’ lines on strips of paper. For example, ‘It was a dark and stormy night …’ or ‘the secret I’ve never told anyone …’. Sit everyone around in a circle and have the first person pull out a story starter from a bag/box. That person reads out the line, then has 30 seconds to add to the story. It then moves on to the next person for 30 seconds, and so on, until you’ve all managed to finish the story. Bear in mind: as the parent, I’m usually the one who has to finish the story, as my kids could keep doing this for an hour!
Me in one minute
Go out somewhere – the park, a shopping centre – anywhere that is convenient and a change of scenery. Ask your child to take a look around at everything they can see. Then, using the timer on your phone (or in your head!), give your child one minute to describe everything they can see. Move on to a new spot, and do it again. This practices a little bit of thinking on your feet!
Behind the News
See if your child would like to be a ‘news anchor’ and present the news. For slightly older children, help them research a topical story in the news. The ABC program: www.abc.net.au/btn/ is actually a good ‘child friendly’ news site to start with.
Your child can view/read information about the story, make some notes and even get into costume, if they’d like. You could then use your phone to record them ‘presenting’ their new story. The great thing about this is that your child will actually get to see and hear themselves presenting their news piece. They might like to do it a few times, to try out different tones and inflections.
What is something your child is ‘expert’ at? It could be playing an instrument, decorating cupcakes, drawing zombies or climbing to the top of the monkey bars – anything! Ask them to prepare an instructional talk, explaining and demonstrating how to do it. They could choose to use drawings or video to help them explain – whatever makes them most comfortable. Ask them to present it to friends or family members.
Many of our Brilliant Box activities include activities to help your children with speaking in front of an audience. In our current July boxes, we suggest a ‘lip synching’ activity for Foundation, a mini research activity to present to your family for Grade 3s and 5s, and the chance to write and perform your own short script, for Grade 6 children. Try a box today – we post anywhere in Australia! www.sunshinecollective.com.au/shop
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