Sep 5, 2015
Mystery Box: Introducing Questioning
For many kindergarteners and first graders, forming a question can be a challenge. How many times have you heard, "I have a question?" But then they proceed to tell you a really long story.
A couple years ago, Karen started using a Mystery Box activity to introduce our firsties to questioning. Any type of object can go inside the box. Karen typically puts something in it that will connect to a story or activity that we are teaching. Here are the rules: Ask a question about the object in the box but we can only answer "yes" or "no."
These are not higher order thinking questions. What we are working towards is knowing how to ask a question versus a statement.
Once that is established, we encourage them to ask questions that help them to gather more information. And when we sat back and actually looked at the questions they were asking, we were pleased with the results.
Day 1: Our little firsties started off by asking a lot of questions like this: "Is it a rat?" "Is it tickets?" These types of questions are not going to get them very far because they are not able to gather information from them. But then a little girl asked, "Is it made of paper?"
Now we are getting somewhere!
Once this question was asked, Karen and I were able to swoop right in and point out all that they had learned about the object from this one question. With this little bit of encouragement, questions were formed with this in mind. "Can you draw on it?" "Does it have colors on it?" Wow! Great questions!
By Day 3 look at the questions that were being asked...
Each question seems to be so thoughtful and each provide us with valuable information about the object. How quickly they caught on to this idea!
As the year progresses, we will revisit this activity. They love it because it is a mystery and they must work together to solve it. But in the end, it provides us with a tool to teach questioning. And this is a much needed skill.