Need Your Students To Come Up With Their Own Questions? Here Are Two Activities To Try!

Student questioning is a key to effective inquiry-based learning. But what if your students aren't sure what to ask? Or how to ask? Here are three activities to help get them started!


Every teacher has been there. You ask "Do you have any questions?" (or some variation of the same) and are met with The Silence. 


In inqury-based instruction, student questions are paramount. They guide the lesson, give the students ownership of their own learning and build engagement. But what do you do when students won't ask any? 

What if they don't know how

When it comes to teaching your students how to ask questions, simply telling them to do so may not be enough. They may not be sure what to ask, how to ask it, or if it's a good enough question to ask in front of teachers and peers.

Just like teaching any other concept or skill, one of the best ways to get students asking questions is guided practice!  So we'll talk about two activities that can help teach your students how to come up with their own questions to help them guide, own and engage in their own learning. 

The Five Question Game

The five-question game is a great way to get your students thinking about how they can ask their own questions. This activity also teaches the importance of asking questions and how it can help students learn more. 

Before you start, make sure that everyone understands the rules of this game:

  • You must answer five questions correctly in order to win a prize

  • The person who gets all five right first wins!

1) Give students a series of five questions. Ideally, choose questions based on topics they have studied prior, or topics from everyday life. For example: 

1. “What are the three states of matter?”

2. “What are the four seasons?”

3. “What is your favorite color?"

4. “Name two countries that border Germany.”

5. “Name two of the outer planets in the solar system."

The first student who gets all five questions correct wins a prize.  The idea behind this activity is for the students to see and answer different questions about different topics, posed in different ways. Also, this activity helps create the beginning of a questioning culture in your classroom. By answering questions that aren't intimidating (i.e. questions they should already know the answers to), they will see that questions in the classroom don't have to be intimidating to tackle. 

Using the questions in this first activity, you can level up with the next. 

"Questions on Questions"

In this activity, students are asked to come up with questions about their own questions. The goal of the game is for them to be able to answer any question using another question. For example, if you ask "What is your favorite color?" and one student responds with "Green," then another student may respond with something like: "Why do you like green so much?" or even "What makes green so special?"

The game can be played by small groups or pairs of students sitting across from each other (or on opposite sides). Each player takes turns asking another player a question; once they've answered that question, they must find another way around it by asking yet another question based on what was just said by the first person who responded--and so on until all players have had an opportunity to ask at least one question and receive an answer from someone else in their group!

This gets students accustomed to asking deeper questions. It's a great, safe way for students to start thinking about how to ask and answer questions that go beyond factual recall or surface level knowledge. These are the "why" questions, instead of the "what" - which lies at the heart of inquiry-based instruction. 


We hope these activities will help you get your students comfortable with asking their own questions, and then applying that new skill to their academic learning. 

One of the best way sto do this is by helping them understand how important it is for us all to ask questions about the world around us. By encouraging students to ask questions, we open the gateway to knowledge and skill building. These are not only key components in learning, but also in helping students problem solve, collaborate, and think critically. By building these skills today, they are laying the foundation for success tomorrow.