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To wrap up the unit on wh-questions, this week we did books and activities which feature ALL of the wh-questions mixed together. It is important to make sure that students understand each of the wh-questions separately before mixing them altogether, but once you have checked or taught each of the wh-questions, it’s time to bring on the challenge!

My theme this week was Robert Munsch books. His books were some of my favorites when I was a child, and I love sharing favorite books with my students today. Munsch books are always a hit with the students, who love the silly themes and ridiculous (but *almost* realistic) reactions of the characters.

Our first book was “Purple, Green and Yellow”, about a girl who begs for her mother to buy her markers, and ends up coloring herself all over with “super-indelible-never-come-off-til-you’re-dead-and-maybe-even-later” coloring markers. The opportunities for wh-questions are almost endless: Who was in the story? What did Brigid want from her mom? Why did Brigid color herself? Who did mom call to help? Etc.

After the story the students took a quiz of wh-questions, and did a coloring activity based on the book.

CLICK HERE for the wh-quiz and activity.

CLICK HERE to listen to Robert Munsch reading Purple, green, and yellow.

Our second book was Thomas’ Snowsuit – a silly story about a boy who does *not* want to wear a snowsuit outside. He ends up getting it on both his teacher AND his principal, and then back onto himself, before he runs out to play. Our activities and questions were very similar to the day before, so I won’t post them here, but  CLICK HERE to listen to Robert Munsch reading Thomas’ Snowsuit.

WHAT are you doing this summer?
WHERE are you going?
WHO is going with you?
WHEN are you going?
Are you excited for your plans? WHY or WHY NOT?

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Because she is the sort of woman I hope to become.

WHY questions are tricky. I do a unit on WHY questions almost every year in the primary intensive support classroom, because a) they are more abstract, which makes them harder to answer, and b) they are so incredibly FUNCTIONAL. Students need to be able to answer ‘why’ questions on a daily basis, particularly at school. Starting with themselves, students are regularly asked to explain their actions (“Why are you late to school?”) and their feelings (“Why are you upset?”). WHY questions are also imbedded in classroom curriculum EVERYWHERE. (“Why did the plant grow? Why did you chose that answer? Why did the character in the book do _______?”). Asking and answering questions is also imbedded in the Common Core Standards.

You can find my previous post on WHY questions HERE.

This year I added the book “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney. I loved this book when I was growing up. It follows a girl named Alice as she learns about life from her grandfather. His most important piece of advice to her in the book is “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” Alice grows up, does many things, and eventually decides to plant lupines as her piece of beauty.

WHY questions to ask while reading this book:

  • Why did Alice’s grandpa come to America?
  • Why did Alice want to travel when she grew up?
  • Why did people start calling her Miss Rumphius?
  • Why did the grown-up Miss Rumphius have to stay in bed for so long?
  • Why did Miss Rumphius decide to plant lupines?
  • Why did her hair turn white?
  • Why were lupines growing all over the headlands at the end of the book?

After reading the book, we made a poster of what we could each do to make the world a more beautiful place. We used tempera paint to make thumb print lupines up the side of our posters. I found the activity on this blog, and the worksheet is located HERE.

Miss Rumphius writing activity

You can listen and watch Miss Rumphius being read aloud on YouTube, if you cannot find a copy of the book at your local library.


Continuing our work on wh-questions, this week we finished up working on WHERE questions. WHERE questions are asking about a place. Often students will answer WHERE questions with an associated object or a person instead of with a place (eg: “Where do you keep eggs?” “Chicken!”).

I’ve previously worked on WHERE questions, so check out the other post here.

This unit I added a new book, by Eric Litwin & James Dean.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes – by Eric Litwin & James Dean

I had never read Pete the Cat books until a teacher friend pointed them out to me last year. This particular book is fantastic for asking WHERE questions! Pete the Cat is traveling around the school, and the book asks “Where is Pete going?” on almost every page. It is fun, and the kids love the song Pete sings throughout the book.

CLICK HERE for a Pete the Cat MAZE!

Here is the Pete the Cat song!

And here is a great video of the whole story!


What have we been working on in the primary intensive support classroom?

Answering WHAT questions!

Many kids with receptive language deficits have difficulty answering wh-questions: questions starting with what, who, where, when, and why. My students usually understand question/answer format, but they have difficulty listening to the specific question, and understanding what kind of answer they need to give. So, we work on each question type individually. We have spent the past two weeks working on answering questions starting with ‘what.’

WHAT questions are asking about things, or things that happen.

What’s Under My Bed? By James Stevenson

What’s Under My Bed? By James Stevenson

This is a book I remember from my childhood. Two kids are visiting their grandpa, and they get scared by a scary story and run to their grandpa for comfort. Grandpa tells them of the time he was visiting his grandparents, and all of the things he [thought] he saw under his bed! The book is full of opportunities to ask and answer ‘what’ questions. What was under his bed? What did he think was under his bed? What did he do when he was scared? What did his grandparents do to make him feel better?

After reading the book, we did a coloring page where the students had to think of one thing that was scary, and one thing that was not scary. Then, they decided which thing they wanted to imagine under their bed.

CLICK HERE for the directions. CLICK HERE for the activity page.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback

This delightful book has a song that goes with it! The story is about a man who has an overcoat that gets worn out. When it has too many holes to use, he makes a jacket out of it. Then when the jacket gets too many holes, he makes a vest. He goes through a whole series of smaller and smaller items, until he is left with nothing.

WHAT questions for this book focused on the items. What did Joseph make first? What did he make after that? What did he make third?

Our activity page had pictures of all of the items from the book, and the kids had to sort them into the correct order. It was nice for the group leaders, because we only had to remember one question: What did Joseph make next?

CLICK HERE for the directions. CLICK HERE for the activity page.


My newest unit in my primary intensive support classroom focuses on the pronouns HE and SHE. Most of my kids are good at using HE, but they often use it as a gender-neutral pronoun, using it for girls and women, as well as boys and men.

The Gingerbread Boy, by Richard Egiekski

The Gingerbread Boy, by Richard Egiekski

Our first book was the Gingerbread Boy. For this lesson, we focused on the word “he.” HE is for boys. We talked about what the Gingerbread Boy was doing (HE is running!), and made guesses about what was going to happen next (HE will meet a fox!). We made Gingerbread Boy paper doll chains, and decorated them with oil pastels. This was the easy day. 🙂

The Gingerbread Girl, by Lisa Campbell Ernst

The Gingerbread Girl, by Lisa Campbell Ernst

Our next book was The Gingerbread Girl, by Lisa Campbell Ernst. This time we were focusing on SHE. What is SHE doing? Where is SHE going? The kids took turns describing the pictures and events in the story, emphasizing every chance to use the word SHE that we could find.

After reading the book, we colored a picture of a gingerbread girl, and made statements about her. “SHE likes ____________. SHE has ____________. SHE is ________________.”

CLICK HERE to download the coloring page.

One last way to work on pronouns is by using Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head toys. Play with them, describe what they are wearing (HE is wearing a hat. SHE has a purse.). It’s a great opportunity to model correct pronouns, and gives chances for kids to practice using them too. (It is also an opportunity for everyone to play with a fantastic, classic toy. Don’t pass it up!)

I have done this unit before (CLICK HERE for the post!) but of course I added some things this time around. My new books included:

Big Cat, Little Kitty

This book is a great compare/contrast book. It features “big cats” (a lion, a cheetah, a cougar, a snow leopard…) in their native environment, and contrasts them with “little kitties” who resemble them in miniature. The vocabulary is rich without being wordy, and the pictures are dramatic. It’s a very fun book, and a great way to repeatedly contrast “big” and “small”.

The Three Snow Bears

Every book by Jan Brett has wonderful illustrations, and this one is no exception. There is a big polar bear, a medium polar bear, and a small polar bear. The classic story is reinterpreted in a northern climate, which keeps it both fresh and familiar. Since “medium” is much trickier to teach than either big or small, I like to have as many books featuring it as possible. This was our last book, and possibly my favorite of this unit.

And lastly, a super-cute video:

We did this unit last year in the primary intensive support classroom, using books like Caps for Sale, and The Napping House, and singing Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes. This year we are adding more books, and more songs.

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

This book is about a mice family that lives at the bottom of a set of steep stairs. Papa mouse warns the children “DON’T go to see what is at the top of the stairs! There is a MONSTER up there!” Of course the children mice are curious, and they decide to go and look anyway. To find out what they see, you’ll have to read the book!

CLICK HERE for the directions. CLICK HERE for the activity pages.

We also sang “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” The spider starts at the BOTTOM of the spout, climbs up to the MIDDLE and then gets to the TOP! And then of course she gets washed down back to the bottom again.

We started with the concepts IN and OUT in the primary intensive support classroom this year.

Bronto Eats Meat, by Peter Maloney & Felicia Zekauskas

Bronto Eats Meat was our first book. A brontosaurus (cleverly named “Bronto”) accidentally eats a BOY named Billy! Having Billy IN his tummy makes him feel sick. His family takes him to the doctor, where they figure out how to get Billy OUT! After reading the book we talked about what we like IN our own tummies, and what we want to keep OUT!

CLICK HERE for the activity to accompany Bronto Eats Meat

In the Small, Small Pond

We also read this book, which describes the animals which live in or around a pond. We talked about which animals live IN the pond, and which ones live OUT of the pond. Then we created our own pond scenes. The students placed the animals either IN the pond, or OUT of it. When they were done, they got to describe their pictures using the words IN and OUT. So much fun practice!

CLICK HERE for the activity to accompany In the Small, Small Pond

Hokey Pokey

For a song, how about the HOKEY POKEY!?! Always fun, always silly. Let’s sing it together!

Today is a happy day!

WHY is it a happy day?

BECAUSE SUMMER IS ALMOST HERE!

When you ask a ‘why’ question, you have to answer with a reason. Answers to ‘why’ questions often begin with the word “because” or “so that…” Our last unit in the primary intensive support classroom focused on answering ‘why’ questions. The kids did so well! ‘Why’ questions are the trickiest, because they are the most abstract. They are important for school, though, because how else do you figure out how things work, or the reason things happen?

We focused on several books, one of which I found for FREE on the internet!

My Father, the Dog – by Elizabeth Bluemle & Randy Cecil

I found this wonderful book in our school library. Each page details one way that the girl in the story knows that her father is really a dog. They both scratch in the morning, they both play tug of war, they both pee in the bushes… Every page gives you the opportunity to ask the same question: WHY does the girl think her dad is a dog?

After reading this book, we made comparisons between ourselves and other animals.
I am like a dog because I like running. I am like a frog because I jump! I am like a rhino because I’m sometimes grumpy.

CLICK HERE for activity. CLICK HERE for directions.

Animals should definitely not wear clothing – by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett

I remember reading this book when I was a kid. Each page features a different animal trying to wear clothes, and showing the disastrous results!
Why should a porcupine not wear clothes?
Why should a kangaroo not wear clothes?
Why should a camel not wear clothes?

After the bookwe made a picture showing another animal, and explaining why it should not wear clothes. So fun!

CLICK HERE for directions. CLICK HERE for the activity.

Why, Monkey, Why? – by Jamie Sue Austin

This book was written and self-published by Jamie Sue Austin, who I’ve never met. Every page has Monkey doing something, and a brief explanation of what Monkey needs, and why. “Monkey needs soap. Why does Monkey need soap? Because he is washing his hands.” Each page is missing the object Monkey needs, which is printed on a separate page so that the kids can add it to the picture. I printed the pages of the book, laminated the objects, and we did it as a group activity before having a muffin party on the last day of speech. You can print it to use at home, too!

CLICK HERE for the book.

Moving right along… WHEN questions! A when question is asking about time. You can answer a when question with a specific time (3:15pm), a descriptive time (morning, lunchtime), a prepositional time (after we finish reading) or a situational time (when I’m hungry).

Today is Monday, by Eric Carle.

Everyone loves food! This book is particularly good for asking when questions because each page has a small number of words, and includes the name of the food and the day of the week. We read through the book and asked questions about which food was eaten on each day.

When did they eat string beans? On Monday! When did they eat spaghetti? On Tuesday! When did they eat soup? On Wednesday!

There is a song to go with the book (or is the book to go with the song?). It would be a great way to review the book at home!

Caps, Hats, Socks, and Mittens, by Louise Borden and Lillian Hoban.

Caps, Hats, Socks, and Mittens

This book focuses on the seasons, which is an easy way to talk about time. We started by reviewing each of the seasons, and then while reading through the book I asked questions about the activities or objects that were in the pictures.

When do the leaves fall of the trees? When do we celebrate Halloween? When does it get cold? When do you make snowballs? When do flowers bloom? When do we celebrate the 4th of July?

In small groups we practiced by making seasons posters. I glued pictures of the seasons in the four corners of a large piece of paper, and the students each got a set of small pictures showing different objects or activities. They colored their pictures, and then sorted and glued them near the appropriate season.

CLICK HERE for the poster activity.

I also found a BINGO game on www.speakingofspeech.com in the materials exchange. It’s the same as the ‘where’ Bingo game, but with ‘when’ questions instead. Fun!

CLICK HERE for the Bingo boards. CLICK HERE for the Bingo cards.

The last part of the WHEN unit we haven’t even done yet! I made an interactive quiz to get some data on how much my students have learned in our WHEN unit. For the speech therapists who have Boardmaker Plus, you can find my when quiz HERE on www.boardmakershare.com.

When will it be summer break? SOON!