This lesson is the most successful I’ve ever designed for early elementary students to promote the skill of developing questions. It is tied to the Unit of Inquiry on health and making healthy choices, and I’ve chosen a popular text and paired it with a question-asking exercise. The output is a class book that parallels the text. I’ve provided the template so all you need to do is take our my kids’ work and fill it with your kids’ work! Your children will love the activity once they get the hang of asking questions, and you’ll have a top-rate class work sample for your Weebly, digital portfolio, or display. Hurrah for vegetables and learning how to ask questions!
To develop questions to guide further inquiry about vegetables and healthy eating. (AASL 1.1.3, “Develop and refine a range of questions to frame the search for new understanding.”)
The class will write a book with at least fifty questions for further inquiry about vegetables, gardens, or healthy eating.
Ask the children to tell you what their new Unit of Inquiry is about. Hopefully they will be able to tell you, “Making healthy choices”. or “Staying healthy”. Ask them what they know about how to stay healthy. One of the children will undoubtedly mention healthy foods. Follow that up with “What kinds of foods are healthy?” Hopefully one of them will reply with, “vegetables”. If you are in a multilingual environment, ask the children how to say “vegetables” in their mother tongue languages.
Tell the kids that today’s lesson is about vegetables, but it is also about becoming great question askers. To become good learners, we must ask good questions, and to ask good questions we must practice. Quickly review how questions are formed. For early learners, I simply say, “You can make a question by starting a sentence with ‘Who,’ ‘What,’ ‘Why,’ ‘When,’ or ‘How.’” Many teachers have the question words displayed in the classroom. If your teacher does not, consider making a small poster or chart for the class with the question words on it. (See attached photo.) If you are working in the library, be sure to have the question words prominently displayed.
Explain to the children that today, they will learn a story, but they will also write their own book full of questions!
Teach Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French. Make sure the children understand the progression of the story including the days of the week and Oliver’s search through the garden. Also make sure they understand Grandpa’s deal with Oliver. Children should understand what “chips” are – this could vary for your country.
Go back to the beginning, and this time work through the story with the PowerPoint template (attached). Replace the date and name of the class and take out my children’s work. Before you erase my kids’ work, please have a quick look through the file so that you know the kind of product we are after. I have taken a key sentence from each two-page spread, inserted an image, and left room for the children to ask questions.
This will be hard for the kids at first, and you may have to prompt them by asking, “We need a ‘What’ question for spinach.” They may then come up with, “What does spinach taste like?” or “What can you make with spinach?” Try to get the kids to use every question word on every page and try to get at least ten questions per page.
Project the file so that the kids can see their book coming together as they work! They will love this, and teachers love it too, because the evidence of learning is immediate!
Wrap up by drawing everyone back together. Emphasize how important it is to be able to ask good questions. (Learner Profile: Inquirer.) Challenge the children to ask good questions to guide their learning. Also, encourage them to follow up on some of these questions with a bit of research next time they come to the library. Print a copy of the file so that each class has a hard copy of the class book.
- A copy of Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French.
- Question Word Poster (optional).
- Power Point Template for this lesson. (See attached file.)
This lesson has a solid Unit of Inquiry link and has a strong information literacy component as well. Better than that, though, is that it shows the children that with a bit of practice, and by using their question words, they can come up with questions to guide inquiry.
I like teaching the skill of forming questions, and I do it at least three different ways in different grade levels. My target is for the children to have one lesson in which they practice asking questions with me each year.
Be sure to print and spiral-bind a copy of the file so that the kids have a class book. They will be very excited to show off their work, and it will also remind them of the importance of asking questions.
Recommended books for this lesson:
- Oliver’s Vegetables by Vivian French.
Vegetables, Gardens, Grandfathers, Health, Diet, Nutrition, Potatoes, Chips