Question Board; Help Your Preschooler Answer Her/ His Own Questions

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.

Question Board For Preschoolers By Merissa Hatch

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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.



Four Literary Questions

If you are thinking , or in the process, of writing a book of any kind this post by writer Janet Fitch is a must read! She tells the difference betweyn a “popular” story and a great one.

Janet Fitch's Blog

This question was posed for me by a reader on my Goodreads page. For me, the best questions are the ones that make me think more deeply about the issues involved. This was a good one:
 “What makes a great story/book? There are so many writers out there, but only a few get any acclaim, and some of the best posthumously. It is a herd mentality that snowballs into popularity?”
The questioner is actually asking four separate questions here.
1. What makes a great story?
2. What makes a great book?
3. Why do only a few books get acclaim?
4. Is it a herd mentality that snowballs a book into popularity.
I answered them in order–but Number 2 is the one that interests me most.
1. A great story is one which satisfies the question it raises in the beginning. It can be a…

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4 Science Questions A Sick Pet Opens For Preschoolers

20141017_113141This week, I had to take my pet hamster to the veterinary office and it opened up a whole lot of dialogue about feeling sick with the four year old I babysit. Off and on all week one of the little girls I babysit, I will call her Lacey for the purposes of this article, and I talked a lot about how to make my hamster Lily C. Pancakes (Lily for short) feel more comfortable while she was sick. I am not at all happy that my pet was sick, but it has opened a dialogue with Lacey I was not expecting. Having a sick pet has piked conversations and questions from “how does it feel to be sick?” to “what is the difference between a dog and rat?”

Preschool (ages 3 to 4) is the time when children begin to learn to relate to others and to the world around them on an emotional level. They start to notice things that are the same and different more often. I like to take every possible opportunity to talk with them about such things so they can develop that skill. Most of the questions below were originally brought up by Lacey throughout the week.

“How do you feel when you are sick? How does your pet feel when he or she is sick?”

Nobody likes to feel sick, and Lily is no different. Lacey asked me a lot of questions about how Lily was feeling and why she was feeling that way. Instead of answering right away, I asked her how she feels when she is sick. This was a great way to help her relate the way she feels to Lily. She is starting to learn that nobody likes to be sick, and that if something makes her feel bad, it probably makes others feel bad, also.

“How can we make our sick pet feel more comfortable?”

This question is another one I asked her whenever she wanted to hold my hamster. It is also a great way to teach her to understand empathy. 20141017_113122

“What kind of pet do you have? How do you care for your pet differently than other pets?”

Lacey loves to talk about her pets. It is important for young kids to learn about a variety of different animals, not just dogs and cats. When Lacey started to tell me about her pets at home, that created an open door for me to ask her how it is different to take care of my pet, than hers. It is important for them to start to see similarities in the way an animal looks as well as the way the animal acts and how you have to treat them. In our case, she had a dog, so we talked about how we have to be extra gentle with the hamster because she is small.

“How are animals and humans different? How are they the same?”

One of the key things a child in preschool will need to develop for kindergarten is their ability to compare and contrast familiar objects and living creatures. I try to bring up animals a lot because they are a point of interest to young children, and a great way to help a child develop this skill. Lacey loves her pet dog, and I have a pet hamster, so whenever she is holding Lily, I like to ask her questions about her dog and my hamster. Lacey seems to enjoy talking about her dog, so this works out perfectly.
Preschool aged kids are all about exploring themselves and figuring out where they stand in a family and the rest of the world. They are starting to develop their sense of self, and understand that if they feel a certain way, others probably do also. It is important to take every possible opportunity to help them relate themselves to the rest of their world and to recognize the way things are the same and different. Animals are a great way to do that, even those who are sick.