Learning to speak in front of other people at an early age has advantages in building confidence as children mature. It is particularly important in developing communication skills that are vital for many jobs as well as social situations. An elementary school teacher helps by providing activities that work toward this desired outcome.
Speaking games are a popular way to motivate and prepare elementary schoolchildren for more complicated speaking activities. They allow students to meet their classmates and enjoy a speaking experience. Getting to know the members of the class serves as a relaxing warm-up activity.
The first child tells the class her name and something she likes to do. For example, she may say, "My name is Martha, and I like to jump rope." The next child repeats that information and adds his name and something he likes to do. This continues until all of the students had a chance to speak. At the end of the activity, the students know something about each other and had a speaking opportunity.
Simple Speaking Activities
Because elementary school students enjoy speaking about items they know and care about, they can perform simple speaking activities on those familiar topics. Students stand and briefly describe their home, family or favorite foods. They may tell jokes or display and explain an item from a hobby. They may describe the country their ancestors came from and use visual aids. These activities usually result in a pleasant experience. Being involved in their topics helps to alleviate their fear of speaking to an audience.
More Advanced Speaking Activities
More advanced activities further develop the young students' speaking skills. For example, they may tell classmates about a story they read. Teachers of upper elementary school grades may assign students to research a topic from their social studies class and present a report on the material. If someone in a class runs for office, a practical activity is to present a campaign speech. In order for the students to benefit, their teacher should evaluate their presentations for volume and clarity and should make suggestions for improvement.
Acting out scenarios is beneficial, with the students using familiar scenes to create a speaking situation. Because they feel comfortable doing this, the activity helps them overcome nervousness about speaking. In one activity, two students face the class and pretend to buy something, pretend to have a telephone conversation or pretend that one of them is a television reporter interviewing the other student. Such activities increase confidence and speaking skills.
Reading aloud is another speaking skill that elementary schoolchildren should perfect. In a readers' theater activity, each child reads part of a play while standing in one place. He makes his words' meaning clear with voice and hand gestures rather than movement. Students can practice until the play is ready for an audience of parents and other classes. The experience emphasizes use of voice and develops speaking skills and personalities.
A school assembly presentation increases self-esteem as elementary school students evaluate their accomplishments. The class could present a play such as "The Wizard of Oz" for the assembly and invite community members to attend. Another option is a holiday celebration that includes stories, songs, poems or a play as well as reports of celebrations around the world. Such activities expand the classroom into the community and bring satisfaction to the pupils for a job well done together.
- Marilyn Shimon, Former Elementary Schoolteacher and Director; Learning Leaders for New York City Board of Education; Queens, New York; 2011
- "A Plus Junior Guide to Giving a Speech;" Louise Colligan; 1989
- "Childhood Education;" Fearless Public Speaking: Oral Presentation Activities for the Elementary Classroom; March 22, 2007
- School girl image by Mykola Velychko from Fotolia.com