How to Teach WH Questions


There is nothing mystical, magical, or terrifying about teaching your students how to ask and answer WH questions. The key is making sure they understand what each of those words mean before you start.  

Several years ago my friend, Leah, was struggling with a group of ASD kids who could not move beyond a what question. No matter what was asked they answered as if they had been asked what. They knew what the word WHAT meant, but they didn’t know how to respond to WHO, WHERE, WHEN, or WHY questions, so I created this resource to help her teach them those words.  I quickly discovered she was not the only one who needed help with this and it has become my all time #2 best selling product on TpT.

Before you begin instruction with any of the WH Questions keep in mind the developmental hierarchy for WH question acquisition.  

What, Who, and Where are the easiest to learn. 

To learn the When word the child must have an understanding of time, so check that they have that understanding before using When. Certainly Why and How are the most difficult to learn because they require understanding of what causes events to happen, and must have prior experiences and be able to think abstractly and problem solve. 

In this resource, 

I provide you with visual cue cards that show what the question word is asking. It shows the question word with examples of appropriate responses. 

Who- shows people and occupations.

What- shows objects animate and inanimate.

Where- shows prepositional location as well as place

When- shows time holiday, seasonal, day/night, specific hour
Why- shows examples of  cause and effect 

This resource also includes picture cards that depict a variety of things, people, and places.  These are provided to be used as prompts for answering and asking questions.

There are basically 3 levels of instruction in this packet. 

Level One will teach the meaning of each WH word with visual cues. When using in a small group your students will learn not only their given word but also the other students words through incidental learning as you use the activity. To make it engaging it has a small game incentive. If they answer the given question appropriately they earn the picture card. They try to collect more cards than the other students. They think they are playing a game and we know they are learning to answer question words appropriately. 

Level Two will require the student to answer all 5 WH question forms to earn the card. It is completed the same as above with the instructor creating the questions for the pictures drawn. Use the mats with all 5 WH words on them.

Level Three- REVERSE the tasks and allow the student to formulate the questions for the pictures drawn. You will use the speech bubble card and place a specific person, place, thing, card on it visually show them they are to do the asking.

If they need additional help pair the cue card with the asking card to help them make the connection. You can also cue with “Ask me a who question? or Ask me what?” etc. 

The “game” is the same. If they can do this task correctly they get to keep the card and try to get the most cards. For our data we get to see how many correct answers 
they got. 
Once they have mastered asking each question independently move up to answering all 5 Questions for the one item.

Who gets presents?
What is in the present?
When do we get presents?
Where do you buy presents?
Why do we give presents or get presents?

There are no preset questions for you to use in the product. I deliberately did not include any so that the SLP can create their own that would be appropriate for her client. However, because others have asked for them, I will be adding some preset questions to this resource in the next update.

As I mentioned earlier, this is my #2 best selling resource in my TpT store and teachers love it. 

Here’s what buyers have said:

Another excellent activity! I can modify it in so many different ways. I’m so glad I discovered your work! It’s not just cute; it teaches the kids concepts! Hooray! – Cathy V.


Great resource! My favorite for addressing WH questions. Love it! – Elizabeth A.


So helpful with my. ELL students. – Mary C.

Whether you use my resource or not you can use this same strategy to teach WH questions to your kids today!

Asking and Answering WH Questions

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