SHERIDAN — Bright eyes peeked over a desk in the corner of the room, scanning the faces of classmates, eager for show and tell time in Cody O’Dea’s Classic Kindergarten class at Henry A. Coffeen Elementary School.
His items retrieved from the “special box” behind the desk, 5-year-old Hudson Johnson walked to a swivel chair placed front and center and stretched on tip-toe to take a seat. O’Dea’s students — affectionately called friends — sat criss-cross-applesauce on the floor, ready to listen as Johnson talked about what he brought that day.
“It’s just fun to bring in something that makes you happy and share it with friends,” O’Dea said.
The practice may seem surface level — it has been abandoned by many kindergarten teachers for more pressing educational pursuits — but the joy of sharing something special with others is universal for children and adults. Not only does it teach speaking and listening skills and build trust, it is a form of self-expression.
There’s a reason artwork fills gallery walls and artist receptions include a time for the artist to “show and tell” about his or her creations. In fact, some would say displaying art and telling its story is a crucial part of creative expression.
One Saturday each month, SAGE Community Arts hosts a show and tell time for artists. The program is an avenue for feedback and affirmation as artists discuss the emotions and experiences behind works in progress and show off finished pieces.
“Any time you can get constructive criticism, and feedback and another set of eyes on your piece, it’s always helpful,” artist Linda Hartman said at a recent session.
When that feedback has been incorporated, Hartman said it’s fun to bring a piece back in and show it off with a little pride.
She spread her arms, one up and one down, in a triumphant stance: “Ta-da, it’s done!”
Back in O’Dea’s classroom, the joy of show and tell was evident.
Thatcher Rudloff, 5, held up an egg in a sandwich bag, ducked shyly behind a figure of a Steeler’s football player, and playfully waved his “Terrible Towel” like a flag. He said it made him feel special when his friends liked the items he brought.
Johnson stretched a toe to the ground and swiveled in the chair as he held up a Spiderman with an ice-blue sword that he’s had “for a long time” and a football he received for Christmas.
Classmates affirmed Johnson’s special items.
“I like your sword and Spiderman, Hudson. Does your Spiderman talk, by the way?”
“I got the same Spiderman as you, but it doesn’t have a sword.”
“I like your Spiderman and your ball.”
Johnson smiled and looked down, shy but pleased.
For another day, for two of O’Dea’s friends, the value of showing and telling, of feeling important, has been realized.
“That makes my heart happy,” Johnson said.