Speech-language pathologists often teach wh- questions in speech therapy sessions. There are different types of wh questions. WH questions contain the wh question words: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. A qualified speech-language pathologist may target wh questions in therapy to support language development. The ability to answer wh questions is very important for successful conversation skills. Suggestions for teaching wh- questions during speech therapy sessions will be provided in this blog post. Additionally, 5 recommended wh questions speech therapy activities are recommended.
Visual Supports and Answering Wh Questions in Speech Therapy
Research indicates that children with SLI (which stands for specific language impairment) can have difficulty answering wh questions (Deevy and Leonard, 2004). Research has also shown that using visual supports improve WH-question comprehension.
Visual cue cards could be used to help children understand each question type. For example, a visual cue card with the word “who” could also have pictures of people on it to help children remember what this wh question word entails. Visual prompts could include pictures of a watch or a calendar to represent “when” questions, and a map to represent “where” questions. “Why” questions could have a thought bubble or a question mark, and a “how” question visual cue card could include a picture of a person completing a process or activity.
Visual supports can help students provide appropriate responses when answering questions.
How To Provide Leveled Support in Speech Therapy
Speech pathologists will likely provide leveled instruction and support when teaching wh questions. Different levels of support are required, in order to individualize therapy for each child.
For example, the SLP will start with simple, more concrete questions, such as labeling objects or pictures (“What is this?”). A visual support cue card would be paired with each question.
Next, the SLP might ask WH questions that are a little more complex. Students might need to describe actions or discuss past events. Visual supports may or may not still be used. Story telling or story retelling can be a great way to further encourage language development at this stage. SLPs might also ask “who” was the child’s favorite character, and then ask them to explain “why”. Cause and effect relationships could also be discussed.
Finally, the SLP might try asking questions that involve inferencing, predicting, and problem-solving. The purpose here is to make connections with the text! Example questions might include, “Why do you think the character did…?” or “What do you think is going to happen next?” The SLP might try asking the student how the character’s problem in the story relates to their own life. SLPs might also ask “What are some different choices the main character could have made?”
Wh Questions: Where to Start in Speech Therapy
It is important to note that a student’s current level may dictate what type of questions are asked: more simple wh questions, or more difficult wh questions. Initial instruction may need to focus on building confidence and answering more basic questions. Young children may need to start with simple questions paired with visual support. Some of the easiest questions might include “what” questions about objects that are placed right in front of the child. Using real pictures during a speech therapy session can be helpful. It can also be helpful to provide picture choices to help students answer questions. Answer choices for the question “What do you eat yogurt with?” might include a picture of a spoon and a cup.
Eventually, therapy should focus on more complex wh questions. If possible, asking more challenging questions, like “how” and “why” questions, is a great way to help increase expressive language skills. This is a great activity to try out during a push-in therapy session! Asking difficult questions can lead to more detailed student responses. So try asking difficult questions during or after a story read aloud like, “How do you know…?” or “Why do you think…?”
How To Work on WH Questions in Speech Therapy
Daily conversations can be used to target answering wh questions. Speech therapists might ask students with language disorders different types of questions during therapy sessions. For example, “Where did you go on a field trip?”, “Who did you play with at recess?”, and “What did you eat for lunch today?”
Bombard a Specific WH Question Word
Speech pathologists could “bombard” the student with a specific type of question word. For example, if the wh word being targeted that day is “who”, get out a yearbook and keep asking “who” questions related to classmate pictures (“Who is wearing glasses?” or “Who has a blue shirt on?”).
Have Ready-To-Use Questions on Hand
It can be helpful to keep question cards on hand to ask during a session. Questions like, “Who is your teacher?” and “Where do you eat lunch?” can be paired with any board game.
Use Books to Target WH Questions
Picture books or short stories can be a wonderful way to target a wh question goal! Read children’s books for speech therapy to find some book ideas to use during a speech session. A short story can provide a way to introduce answering basic questions. Even questions such as “What is this?” and pointing to an object on the page can be a great starting point. Older kids might enjoy these books recommended for 4th and 5th grade.
Sensory Bin WH Question Activity
I love using a sensory bin paired with verb picture cards to work on “where” questions. I use simple filler, such as shredded paper, in a clear plastic container. Speech therapists could also place objects or pictures of objects in a sensory bin to work on “what” questions.
WH Question Games for Older Students
Older students might enjoy fun games like Bingo, I Spy, or Guess Who.
Targeting Vocabulary and WH Questions
Partnering with classroom teachers can be helpful so SLPs can plan ahead before a session. I like to take a look at any vocabulary I want to teach during the lesson. In addition to targeting comprehension, I like to use a dialogic reading style and provide direct instruction on tier II vocabulary. Learn more about robust vocabulary instruction and effective goals for speech therapy. I love using books that students are already reading in class as an easy way to find materials.
How Can Parents Target Wh Questions?
Parents can also ask wh questions throughout a child’s day to support carryover. They might try other generalization activities. For example, if watching a movie with their child, parents could take the time to ask wh-questions about what the child is seeing or hearing. Likewise, parents can ask their children wh-questions during outings about what they are hearing, seeing, or doing. Parents could also ask questions like “Who are we with?”, “Where are we?”, “What are we doing?”, and “What is this?” Parents can use visual supports too! For example, if asking “Who are we with?” questions, they can have pictures of family members on hand to provide a field of answer choices.
5 Speech Therapy Activities that Target WH Questions
These wh questions speech therapy activities are the perfect way to target comprehension questions!
Asking and Answering WH Questions Speech Therapy Activity
This resource targets both asking and answering wh questions! Students will read (or listen to) a short non-fiction passage about a wetland animal. There are 7 possible informational passage options. After that, they will either choose the correct wh question word that would answer each question, or provide an answer to the wh questions provided. Lily pad printable pages with the WH question words are included. There are two versions; one provides extra text support and explains what each wh question word means. In addition, a WH question scene is provided, along with WH questions that can be asked about the picture scene.
WH Questions Speech Therapy Smash Mat Activity
Talk about a fun activity! This wh questions speech therapy activity is firefly-themed and contains picture-supported answer choices. To play, your student can pick a firefly off of a jar. Alternatively, your student can place a firefly ON the jar after answering a question. When your student chooses the correct answer, he will smash dough in order to make the firefly “light up”.
Digital WH Questions Activity
This no print activity be used in teletherapy, traditional therapy, or as a fun part of a classroom language lesson. Your student answers each question. Each question provides two picture-supported answer choices. After answering, you simply tap or click “next” as you build an ice cream sundae! Check out the digital wh question activity.
Answering “WHY” Questions using Subordinating Conjunctions
Do you have elementary students working on answering “why” questions using appropriate conjunctions in speech therapy? This resource is definitely one to check out! This resource targets answering “why” questions using complete sentences and the cause-and-effect conjunctions “because”, “since”, “so”, and”so that”. It’s perfect to pair with a magnetic wand and chips.
Historical Comprehension Activity
Your upper elementary students will be so excited to learn about all of these exciting topics! Read non-fiction informational texts about ancient Egypt, Tudor England, the American Revolutionary War, the Titanic, and World War II. This resource not only targets answering wh questions but also the main idea and finding details.
Speech pathologists may target wh questions in speech therapy. This article provides suggestions for using visual supports and providing leveled instruction when teaching wh questions. Scroll up to read tips on how best to work on wh questions in speech therapy.
SLPs may enjoy these 5 wh questions speech therapy activities:
- Asking and Answering WH Questions Activity
- WH Questions Firefly Smash Mat Activity
- Digital WH Questions Activity
- Answering WHY Questions- Conjunctions Activity
- Historical Non-Fiction Text Comprehension Activity
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