Answering “WH” Questions

Level 2: Expressive Language

Another important concept to target with our students is answering “wh” questions.  Answering “wh” questions does require both receptive and expressive language skills.  The student needs to understand and process the “wh” question and then be able to use his/her expressive language skills to answer the question.  It is important to remember how the student communicates.  Students can verbally answer the “wh” questions or use various AAC systems as we discussed previously to answer the questions.

There are many different ways you can work on “wh” questioning skills with your students depending on each student’s current level.  I usually include a “wh” question goal into many of my students IEPs because it is such an important skill to target.

Tips & Tricks:

Start simple.  First, work on answering simple “what”, “what doing”, “where”, and “who” questions using familiar items and visuals.  You can also start by giving the student a choice of 2-3 answers.

“What” Example – Use a simple Bingo game with objects.  Pull the objects out of the bag and ask “what is it?”  After the student names the item he/she can put the item on his her board.  If the student is non-verbal he/she can point to the picture on the board, point to the written word, or find the item on his/her AAC device.

Lotto Game 1

Lotto Game 2

“Where” Example – Have the student match animals to where the animal lives.  Make some simple picture cards of different animal homes and give the student a choice of 2-3 answers when asking various where questions.  For example; “Where does the cow live?” and give the student a choice of a farm or a house and have the student identify the correct picture.  You can also play different “where” games such as “Where Do I Live?” matching game.

Where Game 1

Where Game 2

“Who” Example – Have pictures of students and teachers in the classroom and pull out a picture and ask the student “who is it?”  The student can earn 5 stars for answering the “who” questions and then get a reward or a turn at a preferred activity.  You can also do the same activity by going around the circle at group time and asking “who is it?”…”it is STUDENT’S NAME”.  If the student is non-verbal, he/she can use his/her device or answer a “who” question by pointing to the correct person.  Example – “who is wearing red?”  Then the student points to the correct student.

Keep working.  Playing different “wh” bingo games is a fun way to continue to work on answering different “wh” questions.  Start using specific boards such as WHAT, WHERE, and WHO and then work up to using the “wh” combo boards.

wh- bingo

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Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 7.11.05 PM

More Challenging.  Including “when” and “why” questions can make it more challenging.  These are difficult concepts.  When questions require your student to have an understanding of time concepts and conditional concepts.  For example; “when do you brush your teeth” – “in the morning” or “when do you use an umbrella?” – “when it is raining”.  Why questions require some beginning inferential skills.  For example; “why do you go to the doctor?” – “because you are sick”.  Again giving the student choices of answers is a great way to begin working on these more difficult “wh” questions.

Pirate Talk

Pirate Talk 2

Pirate Talk 3

Having the student process information to answer questions is also challenging.  Here is an example where you read a short story and have the student answer different “wh” questions based on the information presented to the student.

Question Challenge


Question Challenge 4

Check out our Wh- Mega Pack for even more ideas to target this skill!

wh 1

There are lots of fun ways to work on answering “wh” questions with your students!

Sarah The Speech Helper


  1. Sarah,

    I love your suggestions of using games to work on “wh” questions. Sometimes I think we get way too caught up in the drill technique. It feels more natural in a game setting and is still easy enough for data collection.

    Thanks for the great tip!

  2. Thank you for these great suggestions.
    I really like these questions game.I will use all these different “W” questions with my students this coming school year.
    It will be a great challenge!

    Helen Hassell
    Elementary Remedial/Special -Ed teacher
    Dutch Caribbean

  3. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  4. Dear Sir,

    My name is G.Elsherif from Egypt
    my child suffer from Autism as Egyptian doctor FB , and we have three years till now in the medical treatment and speech training but with no improve
    can you help me to check with a doctor from America or Euro area have a powerful experience in this field

    Thanks & BR

  5. Hello Ms. Allen.

    Thanks for presenting such great suggestions for “Wh” questions. Is there a way for me to receive the Bingo and Pirate talk games? I am a Special Education Teacher and would like to add more excitement to my guided reading lessons.


  6. Hi there,

    I hope you are well.

    How can I teach “what are you doing?”

    Thank you

    • Hi! We have a couple of different present-progressive products that are perfect for teaching “What are you doing?” I like to start with verbs that the child has already mastered like “eat, sleep, play, drink”. I will give a sentence starter like, “They are…” and when the child says “eat” you model “eating”. In my experience, most students learn present progressive very quickly!


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