Young children, especially preschoolers, ask a lot of questions, and one of my goals is to help them learn how to ask and answer questions on own their own. The question board is a great way to teach kids how to ask questions effectively, create a guess about the question, and then how to research the answer or test their theory.
How to make the board
- Large board (about 2′ by 1.5′)
- Paint, stickers, decorative accents
- Dark permanent marker
- Post- It notes
- Pen or pencil
- Get your board- I got my board from our local lumber yard. It was a piece of scrap wood they were giving away. I didn’t need to sand this one, but it’s important the board can not easily cause slivers, so I suggest checking that the board is smooth, or smoothing it down before letting the kids decorate it.
- Go wild decorating it- I made this board for several kids with all different ages and interests, so I made a pretty generic one. I almost added some stickers. If I had, I would have painted clear nail polish over them to keep them from peeling off over time.
- Using a permanent marker, I labeled a section for adding questions we think of and a section for the question(s) we plan to answer each day.
How to use the board
I try to use the time we are walking to various activities (parks, the library etc) to bring up topics that will encourage the kids to ask more questions and answer them. Sometimes we talk about random trivia, like US history or what constitutes a berry. Sometimes we talk about things that are happening in the child’s life and how it makes them feel or think. But these talks always end with at least one question for the question board. And the more we did it, the more the kids wanted to learn.
When the kids ask a question that they don’t need to know right away and they can research on their own, I tell them we will put it on the question board. When we are about to go to the library, I remind the kids to pick one or two questions from the question board to answer. We also look some of the answers up online. With the older kids (6+), I talk to them about how to tell if a book or website is a reliable source.
Tips and Tricks
- Keep post- it notes and pencils close to the board. It is a lot harder to “feel like” writing down a question “real fast” if it takes too long to find a pencil or paper.
- Another variation of this board is to do it on a white board. Although that would not leave room for as many questions, it would save a lot of time. You could label the spaces with a permanent marker. Then write the questions with erasable crayon or white board pens.
- This would be a great project to do as a family. By getting the kids involved in the process of creating it, they are more likely to use and enjoy it.
- I used the kid’s tempera paint. I don’t suggest using tempera paint. I had to do about four or five coats to get it dark enough. That took a long time. I suggest using wood paint instead. I tried acrylic paint as well, but the paint just chipped. So did the tempera.
Curiosity is an important part of discovery, development and problem solving. I like this board because it helps us all keep track of our questions and answers and encourages a healthy interest in the world around the kids. We could easily just look up all the questions on the internet, but I like to take the kids to the library at least once a week and help them look up some of the answers in books and the reference section. Knowing how to do research from a variety of media sources is a very useful skill to have.