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Asking questions

To demonstrate the importance of asking questions.

by Jan Edmunds

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To demonstrate the importance of asking questions.

Preparation and materials

  • Draw a large question mark on a piece of card. On eight more pieces of card, write one of each of the following words: What? Why? When? How? Where? Who? Can? Will?
  • An OHP will help with the reading of the poem.
  • The assembly contains a number of elements and can easily be adapted to suit age range, ability and the preferences of the assembly leader.


  1. Hold up the card with the question mark and ask, 'Who can tell me what this is? Questions or asking sentences always end with this sign. Can anyone tell me a word that we could use to begin a question?'

  2. Through general discussion try to establish your eight words. As they are named, give the card with the word on it to the child who has volunteered the information. Ask the card-holders to line up so that the rest of the children can see them. ‘Can’ and ‘Will’ may not be so forthcoming, so you may have to introduce them yourself. Mention that these words always sound far better if used with the word ‘please’, as in ‘Please can I?’ or ‘Please will you?’

  3. Listen to this poem and see how all these words can help:

    I have some honest serving men, they help in all I do,
    Their names are: What and Why and When
    and How and Where and Who.
    Then there are two others, whose names are Can and Will,
    They often whirl round in my head, my brain is never still.
    I learn by asking questions, it helps me as I grow.
    Working to give me knowledge, answering things I need to know.

    Invite the children to read aloud each of the words with you. Then thank your helpers and ask them to sit down.

  4. The words we have just read are very special. People have been using them ever since we developed the ability to speak. Finding the answers has meant that not only have we learned about the past, but we have discovered new things that have literally changed our world. Further discussion can be developed here if you feel it appropriate: questions such as, How big? How heavy? How wide? resulted in measurement. Archaeologists and historians have learned about the past by asking, What is it? How old is it? What was it used for? Scientists, doctors and engineers have asked, How can we do that? How does it work? How can we solve that problem? What can we do to make things better? Just think and the list can go on and on.

  5. Our own homes would have been very different a hundred years ago. All our modern inventions and comforts have been brought about because people wanted answers and solutions to their questions and problems. If you had lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century you would not have many of the things you enjoy today. No radio, television, mobile phones, computers, electronic games, electric lighting. Your toilet might be a bucket in a little brick building outside! Your water might come from a well in the garden. The modern motorcar did not exist and there were no aeroplanes, so journeys took much longer. So many things have changed.

  6. We can find many answers to our questions in books and on our computers – that is one reason why it is so important to learn how to read. (Optional story)
    Alexander asks

    Alexander Fleming was a boy who was always asking questions. When he grew up he wanted to be a doctor. ‘Why are so many people dying from their illnesses?’ he asked. He needed to find an answer to this question, and did so almost by chance. He discovered that he could make a vaccine from the mould that had formed on a piece of old bread. This new vaccine cured people from infections, and many lives were saved in this way in the Second World War. This substance is still used in medicines today – some of you will no doubt have had to take one of these medicines if you have been really ill. His invention was called penicillin and the drugs are called antibiotics.

  7. We read in the Bible that the disciples were always asking Jesus questions. He in turn often taught his followers about God by asking them questions. Jesus also said, ‘Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For anyone who asks shall receive, and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to those who knock’ (Matthew 7.7-8).

Time for reflection

What’s your big question for today?
What would you like to know the answer to, and how will you set about finding it?

Dear God,
We ask you to give us enquiring minds.
Teach us to ask questions and to keep on trying to find the answers
so that we may learn new things.
Thank you for all the answers we have already found
and for all the interesting questions still to come.


‘Who put the colours in the rainbow?’ (Come and Praise, 12)

Publication date: February 2006   (Vol.8 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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