Monday, March 11, 2013

6 Open Ended Questions To Ask During Play

Quite awhile ago when I first started this blog I posted about our little playroom makeover here playroom-make-over-part-2.

In that post I talked about open ended questions to ask children during play. Often I fall into the rut of being reactive with my children during play. Which definitely there is a place for but I also want to not only answer their questions but challenge them to think further. These questions serve as a starting point to remind me to help them think outside the box!

I thought I would elaborate a bit more on those questions and share how I used them when I was a preschool teacher and how I use them now with my own children.

1. Why Do You Think....?  Examples of this are: Why do you think the tower fell? Why do you think the color changed? Why do you think the top won't fit? These questions encourage children to not only think further but to come up with their own solutions to problems. Not only do I ask "Why Do You Think" questions after something happens but I also use this a lot when my daughters ask why something happened. I put it on her and say "Why do you think that happened rather than jump in and give her the answer. It's empowering for them to come up with the answer on their own.

2. How Might...? Examples of this are How might you make that house bigger? How might you do that differently? Again, you are helping them to think about their play in a different way. Sometimes my daughter will say "I don't know" when I ask her this and I will give her clues and say something like "Do you think it would get bigger if we added more blocks?" Again, you are giving them the language but still allowing them to make the decisions. You are guiding them not telling them how to do it!

3. What Would Happen If...?  Examples include What would happen if we added yellow to the red? What would happen if I cracked open the egg? These are great to encourage getting children to make predictions. Usually after they give me their answer I say "Let's find out!" Often I use the word prediction and paraphrase their answer "Oh, you predicted the color will turn orange, let's find out if your prediction is correct!"

4. What Would You Do...? Examples include What would you do if that happened to you? I use this a lot while reading stories together. This helps to get them relating story context to real life situations.  Another example would be What would you do if I gave you three tea cups? or What would you do if I put a puzzle piece here? This is also can help reinforce cause and effect concepts.

5. What Did You Do...? Examples include What did you do to put the train tracks together? What did you do to fix your baby's hair? These types of questions help with comprehension and recalling sequence of events. It's also a great way to encourage them to come up with their own words and explanations of how they did something!

6. What Do You Wonder About? I love asking children this question! What a great way to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to let them know their feelings and thoughts are valued! It's also an excellent way to pick up on their interests and use that information as a guide to plan new learning experiences.

Obviously there a  million types of open ended questions to ask during play. These serve as a place to start to get the divergent thinking going!!

 I used to have these displayed in my preschool classroom and now I have them displayed in our playroom at home!!


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  1. These are great! I also like Why did you...? They get reflective. Explaining their thoughts is a huge challenge at first. It can even start simple with Why did you put blue in the sky?

    Listening to their answers makes children so happy! And me too :)

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Lenka!! "Why did you" is a great one!! Definitely should add that to my question wall! I agree, listening to their answers and what's in those little minds is the best!

  3. This is a really lovely post which I hope to share on my Facebook parenting page today. Please do pass by and say Hello to us at - see you there! :-)

    1. Thanks so much Lisha! Stopped by and said hello! Thanks for sharing! :)

  4. Excellent way of thinking! You're so right when you say that you can sometimes be reactive. Thanks for sharin!

    1. Thank you Christi! It's a rut I often get into and these questions help me to encourage and challenge my kids. Thanks for stopping by!


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