Public Speaking Skills

This week, my kids had an opportunity to use their public speaking skills
while learning about animal science at 4 H. 

Most of their public speaking has taken place in homeschool settings, in nursing homes, or in Sunday school at church.   But now that we have joined 4 H, and are participating in two different 4 H clubs, they are getting a whole new opportunity to use, and to develop more of these essential skills.  One club is large, and one is smaller and more intimate, and perfect for trying out public speaking skills.  I love the 4 H experience.  The kids in these clubs range from 5 to 18, though both groups have graciously allowed me to bring my preschooler and toddler to the meetings too.  Though they are not officially in the club, they are learning right along with their older siblings.  Just like homeschooling.  Yeah!!!

One of the best skills that public speaking develops, is being able to communicate your ideas to a varied audience of listeners.  It is one thing to tell your family your ideas.  But it is a whole different experience to talk to people who don’t know you, and love you unconditionally such as your family.  Public speaking helps you build confidence to talk to people.  It gives you a chance to talk about something you have researched, or talk about a project to bring social change, or a subject you are passionate about. 

I remember getting up in front of a classroom full of kids as a youngster, and it was scary at first.  Thankfully, 4 H gave me opportunities that were a lot more relaxed.  In a public school classroom, the teacher often picked the subject and then gave you a grade based on the number of mistakes they found as you gave your speech.   This really added to the fear of public speaking in my younger years.   But 4 H was a place to share from your heart.   I wasn’t critiqued as strictly and somehow it was less scary and I felt I accomplished something special.   Both the public school and the 4 H experiences of speaking in front of groups as a kid prepared me for many wonderful opportunities as an adult.  Today, I can speak to groups large or small and though I still get a little nervous about giving a presentation, I know I can do it.  I can communicate my ideas to lots of different people, because I had an opportunity to practice when I was younger in settings such as these.

Thank you 4 H and to the coordinator of the Wildcats club, Tracie, for such a fun experience today.  Tracie made this a very relaxed learning experience for the children to practice their public speaking skills.  My kids had a super great time.  This day reinforces a personal motto for my family:  “Learning Should Be FUN!!!!  and when it is FUN, the kids learn so much more and retain what they have learned.

The Presentation

The children were given an assignment to pick an animal they were interested in, and research information about it. 

Some of the details children researched were things such as:

Name of the Animal:
Predator or prey:
Size (height, weight, length):
Geographic Range:

Each child prepared their information according to their own skill level.  For example, the highschoolers were more advanced in what they shared compared to the elementary students, etc.

It wasn’t required, but everyone prepared a folder of information to talk about.  This helped them organize their information and keep it all together.  As each child gave their presentation, they passed around lots for all to see.  Some kids brought in maps, pictures, library books, drawings, and one child had a great idea to prepare three manila folders he glued information and pictures into to pass around.  All of these various hands on items were a lot of fun and made the speech more interesting, especially for the younger learners.

The lists of animals the children chose were quite varied.  Some talked about wild endangered animals, and some talked about domesticated animals.

            The list of animals the children chose included: 
                    Gray Wolf
                    Fennec Fox
                    Jersey Cow
                    African Lion
                    Pink Flamingo
                    Komodo Dragon

My Kids

Research & Presentation

Four of my five kids shared about an animal they were interested in.  We spent some time at home brainstorming three animals they liked and then we narrowed down and they picked one.   We researed online, copied photos, and made a folder for each animal.

Inside their folder, we put together six to twelve pictures of their animal they could pass around to their listening audience or put on an easel for display.  We also included information with pictures from an encyclopedia or wikipedia online. 

Each folder also had a map showing the geographic range of where the animal lived.

On the outside of the folder, we paper clipped an index card that contained a summary of the most important information and answered the subject areas the class was asked to address.

My 10 year old shared about the Komodo Dragon.  He had a tough time narrowing down his choice.  If it were up to him, he w
ould have given three speeches.    His first choice was the Spitting Cobra, then the Komodo Dragon, and finally the Poisonous Dart Frog.  We could not find any good photos online specific to the spitting cobra so eventually he was ok to go with his second choice the Komodo Dragon.  But he loves learning about lots of animals and he could talk all day about each of them. 


Komodo Dragons are reptiles.  They are carnivores and will eat anything with blood in it or on it.  They are highly sensitive to the smell of blood and will track an injured animal from many miles away.  They are from the Lesser Sundra Islands of Indonesia.  They can swim between the islands with ease.  They have over 50 different bacteria in their saliva and though their bite is about as strong as a common house cat, the bacteria will kill you in less than 24 hours.  The Komodo waits patiently for you to die, and then this predator has a feast.   They get to 330 pounds and over 10 feet long.  They can run in bursts up to 11 miles per hour.  They live over 30 years.  Komodo Dragons are an endangered species.

My eight year old shared about the Jersey cow.  He is a true farm boy!  He used to help get our Jersey cows into the barn at milking time, and he would pet them in the pasture.  Our favorite Jersey cow was Elvira, and she loved being scratched behind the ears and under her chin.  Jersey cows are as calm and friendly as a family dog.  But not the Jersey bull.  He will eat you for lunch, unless you eat him first!


Jersey Cows are mammals.  Their diet consists of mostly grass and hay. Domesticated cows on dairy farms are also given grains to increase milk production (but this shortens their life span, lowers important nutrients in the milk such as CLA, omega fatty acids, and more, and promotes stomach problems and disease).  They live about 16 years if allowed to live out their life span.  However, most are butchered before then.  They weight between 800lb and 1200lbs.  They are various shades of brown in color.  They are valued for their high butter fat content in their milk.  Often the fat content can reach 6%  however many Jersey cows do not achieve such a high ratio.  The Jersey cows we owned in the past had a butter fat content in the 4.6 to 4.8 range which is about average. 

This breed of cow was first recorded in 1700 in the British Channel Island of Jersey.  They are believed to have descended from the cows that were given as a gift by the King of France to a Nomandy Viking who was asked to leave France and not come back.  The Viking took his gift of 500 cows and his crew and then went just off the shores of France and founded the island of Jersey.

My six year old shared about the Cheetah.  He was really nervous.  But I thought he did a great job.  Not that I am partial, being his mom, nope, not one bit.  Well perhaps just a little.  See that “mom I am too scared to do this” look on his face?   Yep, he was feeling the nerves.  But once he saw several others give their speech, he was able to share his animal and did a great job.


The Cheetah is a mammal.  It is a carnivore.  They eat a variety of other animals if they can catch it.  They live 10 to 12 years.  They weigh 77 lbs to 143 lbs.  They can run up to 60 miles an hour and reach this speed in 3 seconds.  They are from eastern and south western Africa.  They are a vulnerable animal and there are only approximately 7,000 to 10,000 left in the wild.

Finally, I helped my preschooler share about a pink Flamingo.  This was her very first experience to share in a group.  She did not want to be left out as she watched her older brothers prepare for this fun event.  She begged that mommy help her find out about a pink bird. 

Being a preschooler, she doesn’t read yet, so I couldn’t help her write out a speech or even a summary.  So She passed out her pictures while  I did the talking on this one. 

I looked online and showed her several pictures and she chose the bird she wanted to learn more about, a pink Flamingo.  This was a new one for me.  Besides seeing them in everyone’s yard, (the plastic version) I really didn’t know a lot about them. 


There are actually six different flamingo species.  The different species are found in Africa, Southern Europe, Southern and South Western Asia, North Western India, South America, Caribbean and Galapagos Islands.  Even though the majority of flamingos are found in tropical and temperate climates, there is a species found in the High Andes Mountains in South America. 

Colors of feathers on the flamingo range from light pink to dark red based on the bacteria and carotene in their food supply.  They wade in the water and eat brine shrimp and blue green algae.  The more blue green algae in their diet the darker red their feathers become.   The stand on one leg and it is not sure exactly why.  Scientists have a lot of theories, but none have proven true yet.  They are social birds and live in colonies.  This helps them avoid predators and gives them more choices for mates.  In smaller colonies the birds will stay with their mate, but in larger colonies, males will compete for females and they will change mates.  Having a mate helps protect a nesting site, but other couples will try to steal the nest, so the birds will fight to protect their chosen spot.  They hatch out a cluster of eggs and then stay with the chicks until they are seven days old.  Then the chicks join a larger group of chicks and learn to feed.  The first six days the parents feed the chicks something they make themselves,  a kind of bird milk or crop milk, made up of fats, some protein, red and white blood cells that they regurgitate to the hungry chicks.  Flamingos are a vulnerable species and are dying by the thousands in places such as the lakes of Kenya and Tanzania.  Scientists do not know why.   

Learning Extension Possibilities

If you would like to do some additional learning extension ideas, check out these possibilities:

Make a lapbook or notebook all about your animal choice.

Read story books, fiction or non-fiction, that relate to your animal choice.

Take field trips to see live animals the children discussed in their speeches.  Check out  Zoos, Farms, and Wildlife Conservation Programs.

Take a virtual field trip online.

Visit museums to see fossils or see taxidermy animals that have been preserved and set in a reenactment of their environmental surroundings.  For example, not far from where we live, you can visit the Pisgah Cradle of Forestry Museum and there are bears and racoons and more animals that are no longer living, but were placed in a life like forrest inside the museum so you can learn more about them and their habitat.

Hang a world map on the wall, and have the children place a flag in the region where their animal lives.

If several children are in a group, class, or coop together, hang categories on the wall and have the children place a small picture of their animal in the correct classification or geographic location.

Have children build a shoe box diorama showing the animal in its habitat.

Make a map or diorama from salt dough or play dough.

If possible, bring a plastic toy or model of your animal to your speech as another way to enhance what you are sharing about the animal.  I have often seen these plastic animals at Walmart, KMart, the Dollar Store, kids museums, and online.  If you don’t have a free one on hand in the toy box, this would increase your expense of putting your presentation together and may not be a good idea to spend the extra money.  We did not have any specific plastic animals on hand of any of the animals our children wanted to talk about, and we chose not to go and buy them. But it would be another great way to enhance the learning.

Find out how many of the species live in the wild, and how many live in zoos and conservation programs.  Make a graph of your research.

Research a non-for-profit program the helps or monitors the animal of your choice.  For example, a special program that focuses on labrador retrievers, or whales, etc.

Learn about veterinarians and scientists that specifically help the animal species you chose.

Learn more about the country or region the animal comes from.  What is the culture like?  What are the demographics?

Make a craft with your animal focus.  For younger learners make it a puppet or coloring page, for older learners practice a painting or sculpting a piece of clay to look like the animal of your choice.

Learn about how the animal interacts with humans, and what products humans might use that were made from the animal.  For example, in learning about the Jersey cow, you could visit a dairy farm, milk a cow, learn to make yogurt, ice cream, butter, or cheese.  You could also visit a meat locker and learn how a cow is butchered, and how ground beef is made.  You could learn about the nutritional values compared to other foods.  You could visit a leather tanner and learn how the hide is preserved and made into gloves, belts, purses, and other leather objects that people use.  You could also visit a Native American living history village and watch how hides of buffalo and deer were preserved and made into useful clothing or other items.  If you are doing a project on a cow, or domestic farm animal, compare stats of that breed to other breeds and make a graph and learn which breeds produce more of different things humans use.

Play games that revolve around your animal or a related topic.
We have a Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See game that we play and learn about different wild animals.  But there are lots of games on the market you can use to teach concepts such as running a dairy farm, conservation of endangered species, economics, geography, and more.

Make a graph of the different important parts of a speech. 

Make a graph or a list of the different listeners who might be in your audience when you give a speech.

What ideas to you have to help your children learn public speaking skills and making it fun too?  Leave us a comment, and thanks in advance!  We love hearing from you!

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2 thoughts on “Public Speaking Skills

  1. Weiser Academy

    It takes some getting used to and practice.  My kids are very out going and that helps too.  They like to share information, though they like doing it in a relaxed setting.  This project was very relaxed.  They got to sit at a table and pass around picturs and maps and it was not over whelming at all.  I would definately suggest if you have a student who is nervous speaking in front of others to give this relaxed method a try.
    Best wishes!


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