The beginning of a school day can be chaotic but a Question of the Day will give your class structure and purpose.
Part of my classroom management plan is having specific routines and expectations throughout the day. Arrival is one of those times where you need a good solid routine. A key component of my arrival time is the Question of the Day.
After kids have put their belongings in the hallway cubbies, they enter the room and go straight to our Question of the Day easel. We actually practice this at our “Meet the Teacher” day before school begins! It’s part of a scavenger hunt the children do to find their way around the room. So on the first day of school, the Question of the Day isn’t completely new to them.
When students come in and see the teaching easel, they “read” the question, find their name card, and place it under their answer. Once they’ve answered the Question of the Day they are ready to start our Table Time activity. It’s a predictable start to our school day…each & every day. Children know what to do and they know my expectations. I have used the Question of the Day in four year old preschool, a Young 5’s transitional class, and in Kindergarten. It works extremely well in all of these situations.
The Question of the Day is typically a Yes or No question related to our current theme of study, a special event, or the season. Occasionally it’s just a random question! Sometimes there’s a different kind of question where the kids are asked Which one is your favorite?. For these questions, instead of answering a simple Yes or No the children have two or three choices. I use these questions for favorite colors, favorite foods, favorite centers, etc.
If you only use the Question of the Day
for a routine start to each morning, that’s great. But to take it a step further, I like to incorporate the children’s answers into my Morning Meeting
During Morning Meeting we do several calendar activities, sing a song or say a poem, read a book related to our theme of study, and we always take a look at the Question of the Day. We read the question and count together to see how many classmates answered Yes and how many answered No. We write the numeral for each column and then decide which is more and circle that number.
As the school year progresses, we also write the number word and make tally marks for each column. I usually do the writing but often in the spring, I’ll share the marker with the line leader of the day and let them take over. They love playing the teacher!
There are so many skills you will cover with the Question of the Day.
Language Arts concepts are incorporated.
left to right progression
capital letter at the beginning of a sentence
punctuation at the end of a sentence
finding sight words
using a picture cue to read a word
Many Math skills are practiced as we analyze the question.
My teaching easel is from Lakeshore and is a great multi-functional resource to have in the classroom. We use the dry erase, magnetic side for the Question of the Day. This easel is Lakeshore’s most basic style but I had my husband build a shelf that rests on the bottom support bars. You can see it up in the first picture of this post.
The shelf gives me extra storage and holds the tray where we keep student name cards. The name cards, from the teacher store, have been laminated for durability. I put a round magnetic button to the backside so they’ll easily attach to the easel.
I use standard sentence strips for each day’s question.
Back when I was teaching Kindergarten, I wrote out lots and lots of basic questions and I’ve found, for the most part, I can use the same ones year after year. If my themes change or a special event is planned, I just grab a blank sentence strip and write out a new question for us to use.
The vast majority of my question strips have a picture cue on the far right side after the question. I’ve used everything from clip art, magazine pictures, rubber stamps, and stickers for these pictures. Having the little picture cue gives every student a chance to be a successful reader of the Question of the Day.
I store my collection of questions in one of these sturdy sentence strip boxes. A bonus is that the box fits nicely on the shelf under my teaching easel.
I primarily organize my question sentence strips by the season and have a tab divider for fall, winter, and spring. For instance, I always teach a unit on pumpkins in October, so those questions would be in the fall divider after the questions about apples (Sept) and before questions about Thanksgiving.
I have one section for general questions. These are ones where it really don’t matter when you ask them. Questions like Do you like bananas? or Have you been to the library? fit into this category.
I also have a divider for alphabet question strips. These questions are in the form of
Do you have the letter ___ in your name?
We use these questions as we focus on each letter of the alphabet. It’s a good way for the kids to really take a closer look at their name to see if they have a specific letter. I only use first names on the name cards but you could certainly use both first and last names to make the Question of the Day more challenging.
Finally, I have a tab for those Which one is your favorite? questions I mentioned earlier.
After school every Friday, I set up and gather materials for the upcoming week. One of the things I do is get out my sentence strip box and pull five questions. I consider what theme or topic we’ll be learning, what letter we’re focusing on, is there a special holiday/event, and so on. Some weeks, if I don’t have enough specific thematic questions I’ll pull one from the general question section.
Once I’ve collected the question strips for the week, I attach them to the learning easel with magnetic clips. I simply stack them on top of each other and as the week progresses, I move the question we’ve already used to the back of the stack to uncover the next day’s question.
I really love doing the Question of the Day for all the skills that are packed into it and for the predictable start it gives us each morning. But one of the best things is what you’ll learn about your class from their answers each day!
Do you ask your students a Question of the Day?