Very young children have the power to demand speech from you with the wassat? question. They learn a bit later the way to extend conversation with why? and this can become a game which will go on for ever!

(If you ever wonder why it is that your child uses that why instead of because I think it is that we teach them to do it! After about ten why/because exchanges, adults often become harassed and say firmly because I told you, that’s why! Children – who frequently recall the last thing they heard from a long utterance – hear this that’s why in a firm and usually rather louder voice. Subsequently they may use that why instead of because. Well, that’s my theory.)

We actually need full command of the question words to consider all the different sorts of information for a situation: when/who/where/what-happened/why/how… Some children find it very hard to match the correct sort of answer to the question word. If I ask a who-question, then a where-answer will not do. It is helpful to explain what went wrong.

Adult: Who pushed you?

Child: In playground.

Adult: I didn’t say where did it happen – I want to know who did it. Was it a boy or a girl?

When children reach the reading and writing stage, things become more difficult if they haven’t gained mastery of the easier question words and the matching sorts of information. (The whys, hows and what-ifs are harder.) Some of my resources try to make the skill more visual with symbols and shapes to represent the question words and the sort of information to answer them. There are other methods out there too, often based on colour coding.

PICTURES FOR LANGUAGE WORK questions 1 A selection of pictures chosen for their usefulness in making up good sentences to include who/doing-what/where information and for asking questions to elicit this information.

WHAT CAN I INFER BOOKMARKS questions 2 Bookmarks with reminders about the sort of information for which there might be clues in the text: what happened, when, who is it about, how do they feel, where did it happen, why and how.

MAKING UP QUESTIONS USING SHAPE CUES questions 3 Many children have difficulties with questions and give mismatched answers. This is a way of linking question-type to the sort of information required in the answer.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH SHAPE CUES + WORKSHEETS USING THE SAME PICTURES questions 4 Includes guide for adults. Practice with asking and answering questions using a clear visual format. Worksheets require KS1 reading skills to match questions and answers about the pictures.

MAKE QUESTIONS and STATEMENTS questions 5 Symbols (c) Widgit Software 2010. Print the NOTES as a sheet for reference. There are several suggestions, including how to use the resource with a mixed ability group with readers and non-readers. Print the MAKE QUESTIONS AND STATEMENTS on card. The little cards will be more manageable if you use full size A4, but they are legible if you print 2-up. Basically it is an activity requiring rearrangement of word cards to make questions or statements but there are other ideas in the guide too.

SPEAKING AND LISTENING PLUS questions 6 A set of double-sided cards with pictures one side and mixed questions on the other for the adult to ask. Designed to give practice with responding appropriately to different question words, and picture description. Pictures can also be used as a prompt for writing sentences, and for pairing up with given sentences as a reading for meaning task.

INFERENCE – READING FOR MEANING AND INFERRING PT 1 questions 7 Symbols (c) Widgit Software 2010. Aimed at children with fair reading skills who do not pick up on all the meaning behind the words. Three stories with suggested activities based on published research as to what helps children focus on implied information including straightforward questions and inferential questions.


CAN AND CAN’T – ASK QUESTIONS AND ANSWER questions 9 A simple repetitive format to teach Can you…?/No, I can’t. Illustrated with PCS or Widgit symbols.

QUESTION AND ANSWER, PLUS FOLLOW-UP Q AND A (1) questions 10 Where/why. Three games providing a framework for question and answer exchanges to promote the extending of the initial exchange with a further exchange. Each set includes 10 small game cards which give a vocabulary and association task before the main game. BSL signs for the question words are included. Other illustrations from PCS and Widgit symbols.

QUESTION AND ANSWER, PLUS FOLLOW-UP Q AND A (2) questions 11 Who/why. Two games providing a framework for question and answer exchanges  as above. One game features people who help us and the other has reasons for making a 999 call.

QUESTIONS AND SENTENCES ABOUT PICTURES questions 12 A set of ClipArt pictures and word cards. The activity is to ask questions in a barrier game and select word cards to match the replies and build sentences. Other suggested activities plus thoughts about asking questions orally or with worksheets to target different developmental levels. Two files. Mat with word cards made with Widgit’s CIP.

RECALL, RETELL STORIES questions 13 12 pictures with 3 sentences to be read out to make a ‘story’ as the child sees the picture. Read twice through and then ask the child to retell the story. Then put the suggested questions. You can also use the text and questions for more able children to read and answer the questions by writing. All answers available from the text.