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Language and Communication Responds to what questions  This resource has been viewed by a moderator.


Pupils listen and respond to simple questions beginning with "what".

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Early years skill:Understanding
Early years typical range:22-36m
P-scales/Curriculum skill:English Listening
P-scales/Curriculum level:P6
TAP skill:Understanding of Language/Comprehension
TAP level:TAP36
Pre/Nat. Curriculum Area:not specified
Pre/Nat. Curiculum Standard:not specified
Section:Early Years (0-5yrs) info; Primary (5-11yrs) info
Activity/strategy name and materials required How to do the activity Key principles for doing the activity and comments
Familiar picture books
  • A familiar picture book;
  • If required, a symbol card to represent 'what' (for example a question mark).
  1. Ask "what" questions about familiar pictures in books. For example, ask 'What is this?';
  2. Model the answer if the child has difficulty answering, for example "What's this?". You could also use a "what" symbol card when you ask questions - pointing to it when you use the word 'what'.

WARNING: it can become a habit to keep asking a child "what's that" whenever you see a picture (a phenomenom that might be called "What's that-ing") - so use in moderation - and, in other situations, try leaving long pauses for a child to tell you about a picture rather than asking a specific question.

When the child is able to understand this question, you could try taking it in turns so that they get a go at asking you "what's that?".

Silly questions

One or more of these:

  • own photos from school or home;
  • pictures of things.

... and if required:

"What" symbol card

  1. Look at a picture for which you know the child knows the answer. Ask a clearly silly question. You want the child to say "no!"
  2. Show the "what" symbol card and say 'What is it then'.
  3. Give help with the answer at first.
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