Public speaking provides an opportunity for students to practice standing and talking before a group, as well as a chance to develop listening skills in the audience. Practicing public speaking with students can help boost confidence levels and prepare them for tasks they will face as adults. Use various activities to encourage public speaking with your grade school students.

Show and Tell

Show and tell is a classic activity for students. Create a more developed lesson by including a set of expectations for both the shower and the audience members. Distribute and review a list of criteria for what each presenter must include in his presentation. For example, you can have students focus on the the typical newspaper reporter question words -- who, what, where, when, why and how -- to provide specific details about their objects and deliver a more informative presentation.

Memorization and Recitation

Kids can be adept at memorizing short chunks of text. Direct each child to choose a poem, a speech from a play you've used in class, a part of a famous speech, or any other specific text that lends itself to public delivery. In this activity, students will have the opportunity to practice both memorization and public speaking skills, while also having some dramatic fun pretending to be a character or famous person from history. Modify the activity so that you arrange students in small groups to present a scene from a play or recite a poem as a chorus.

Public Speaking at Home

Assist students in learning to be effective persuasive speakers by having them create, in the classroom, a speech to deliver at home to their parents. Students should use the speeches to lobby for something that the students would like to have, whether it be a new toy or a vacation. Students can learn that public speaking doesn't always entail large audiences in a formal setting by creating a speech to deliver in the familiar atmosphere of their homes to an intimate audience. Have each student develop a thoughtful list of reasons she should receive what it is she desires, and then return to the group to report how well her persuasive public speaking worked.

Fast and Easy Activities

On separate sheets of paper, list the names of common classroom objects. Use only items that the students can see in your classroom, and make enough sheets so that each student will have one word. Put the words in a bag or box, and have each student pick one of the words at random. Instruct the students to keep their items secret from each other. After choosing their words, give students 10 to 15 minutes to plan for a semi-impromptu and short speech in which they will describe their items. After each student presents all the details of his object, see if the other students are able to guess which object it is.