Let’s be Curious ….5 W’s & 1 H Series – 2

“”Wh” Questions, With Examples”.

They say “ A picture is worth a Thousand Words”. Well, to that I would like to add, “provided you know how to use it”.
What you see above is one of my favourite pictures, I use for picture description. This is an activity we do with all children to enhance their language. Generally, most of us ask a few questions like, “Which place is this?”. “What is everyone doing?” max to max the emotions or expressions we can see on the face of the people. Our children also most of the time stick to the nouns, verbs sometimes prepositions & emotions in one- or two-word phrases and that’s all, i.e. They may describe the actions, position and expressions of a few people.

A picture description gives us a plethora of details and using it to arouse the curiosity of the child, improve his observation skills is the duty of the adult, using it as an activity.
So, we become, that curious neighbour, who has to get all the information about, what where, who, when, why, how etc, etc things happened. Here again I would request the parents to know the level of the child and modify the questions. If the child doesn’t know the answer use it as an opportunity to teach him. We adults generally start with questions with our children, never realising the child may not know the concepts or assume he already knows so when the child is looking lost, or not able to answer, use the opportunity to “TEACH”. Use phrases like, “wow you learnt a new word today”, “let’s use it again in another way”. So, use the new word in different sentences.

Now let’s start with the picture above at the first stage we will start with a few basic questions. (You can use a simple picture with lesser details when starting with smaller kids. I have shared an example later in the blog)

a. Start with the place. (Which place is this?) Here, I chose a park as a child is very much aware of a park. If the child is quiet and not able to answer, give him options, is it a bathroom or a park? Make sure the options you give are so diverse that the child is able to answer easily. Here in a way, we are subtly helping the child without directly prompting him.

b. When describing make sure the child is going either clockwise or anti-clockwise describing each detail. This way he will not miss anything. Initially just keep pointing at each detail systematically following the directions mentioned.

c. Now comes what each person is doing? The verbs in the picture. Here is the best opportunity to add a few adjectives, “the old woman is feeding birds”, “the small boy is playing with a heart shaped balloon”.
Add little, little details, especially when you are child is trying to finish off the sentences in two- or three-words phrases

d. Identify each and every object in the picture, the open gate, the fountain, the water flowing in the fountain, the pram or stroller, the bird behind the boy, everything. Any new word you teach him say, “wow! that’s a new word we have learnt”. Go on to explaining the word.

e. Always use appropriate words in reference to the context. For example, a giant or monster will be “huge”, not just “big”. A lady bug is “tiny” not just “small”. Remember synonyms makes the language more beautiful and appropriate.

g. Who do you think is he waving at? (The boy with the glasses.)

f. If your child has a good understanding go on further. Example, what is the boy with the ball doing? (waving)

h. Why are they waving at each other? (Because they are friends.)

i. Here we are asking inferential questions. Looking at a scene we are now deducing or inferring what must be happening. This is actual thinking. Your child will need a lot of help initially. Be ready to help him.

j. Remember you are now teaching things which are not apparent to him as it is to you.

k. Another inferential question you can ask, “Does the boy with the glasses know that there is a bird behind him?”.
Most of our children will say, “yes”, because they can see the bird. This is, “Theory of Mind”. Thinking from another person’s perspective which doesn’t develop naturally for children with Autism or other developmental delays. We have to teach them this.

l. Theory of Mind is a tough concept, your children should have a good ability to understand cause and effect, a good vocabulary and problem solving ability to grasp it. So, work on these concepts before introducing them in picture description. I will be writing a separate blog for that.
m. Another inferential question, “How do you know the boy on the bench is listening to music?”. “How do you know he is enjoying music?” (His expressions, the way he is sitting on the bench. Draw the attention of the child on to the body language of the boy)

n. Next question, “Why is the girl behind the tree looking so amused?”, or “Why is the girl in polka dots looking so cross?” (Because she can’t find her friend hiding behind the tree). If you notice I am using words like “amused”, “cross”, because those are the exact expressions on the respective children’s face. We are slowly adding more emotions, other than angry, happy & sad.

Source : Scholastic, First Little Readers . Story: Hide & Seek , by Deborah Schecter
(This series is available in Amazon and excellent to teach reading, storytelling, picture description etc.. )

Some of the questions we can ask in this picture (Another favourite of mine)

• What is a mess?
• Can you find the girl?
• The book on the bed, is it open or closed?
• Are there more books?
• The ball next to the book is it small or big?
• Is there a single sock or can you find its pair?

Source: Scholastic , First Little Readers , Story : Bubble Shapes by Liza Charlesworth
Sharing an example of a simple picture for our beginners.

Some questions you can ask here
• What did the girl make with the bubbles?
• What do you do with your teddy bear?
• What do you sit on?
• Can you sit on a bubble chair?

Be very expressive when asking questions, arouse the interest of the child, draw parallels to the child’s immediate experiences too, if you find any, example, “Oh! You also go to the park daily to play; does it have a fountain?”
So, a picture description when done patiently opens a field for us to play. Our imagination is the only limiting factor.

So happy weaving stories!!!!

Author Simmi Vasu

Artwork by Morpheus Nag and Dhrov Tikoo

Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associates Morpheus Nag and Dhrov Tikoo


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