TIP: Use Question Cards for Your Youngest Audience

For Question Cards, you can use plain index cards or your promotional postcards.

For Question Cards, you can use plain index cards or your promotional postcards.

Have you ever had this happen?  You’re in a room with first graders.  You say to the kids, “Do you have any questions?”  You call on an enthusiastic hand-raiser who says, “I like your shoes.”  The next kid says, “I like your books.”  The teacher interrupts with, “Now children, that’s a statement.  You need to ask a question.” So, the next kid asks, “What’s your favorite color?” and every question after that begins with “What’s your favorite . . .”  The warm fuzziness of the author moment is gone, and you have become the object of a dry language arts lesson.

 Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve had some great Q & A sessions with younger kids, especially when they’ve read my books and have seen me in assembly. But things can go off-track fast if you’re not on alert.

 Here’s an emergency strategy for doing a Q & A with your younger audiences.

 On note cards (or postcards), write questions in advance of your visit – questions that you’d like to answer.  Some questions can be serious (“Where do you get your ideas?”), others can be fun (“What pets did you have as a kid?” “What’s the silliest joke you ever heard?”)  If you have a hard time coming up with kid-friendly questions, have a brainstorming session with your writers group and make up a batch of 30 together. (Hint: If you print a sheet of questions off on sticky labels, you won’t have to write them each time you do this activity!)

Put the questions in a hat or container.  Have kids, in turn, draw a Question Card from the hat. Let each kid stand beside you and share the spotlight as you read the question aloud and give your answer.

You might also consider letting individual kids (or the class) keep the cards that are drawn out, autographing the cards at the end of the session.  And if you have each question on your promotional postcard, the Question Cards turn into perfect souvenirs. You can be sure that when the cards go out the door, there’ll be lots for the class to talk about!

10 Comments on “TIP: Use Question Cards for Your Youngest Audience”

  • What a fabulous yet simple idea, Alexis–thank you!

  • Hi Alexis! I usually don’t open the question door with young audiences because it always becomes the exact fiasco you describe. But I love this suggestion –it gives the kids who are anxious to share a moment a chance to participate and add to the program at the same time.

  • Very clever and very helpful. I feel like one of those kids reaching into your bag of tricks and pulling out something that will make me seem smart and feel prepared.

    Thank you, Alexis.

  • This is a super cool idea!
    I plan to use it.
    Thank you for being so helpful.

  • love this! i’ll be doing this, too. thanks for sharing!

  • Alexis, you’ve done it again! And in the process you’re saving my (published) life! Every tip is a gem. This one not only makes the event run more smoothly, but adds fun and satisfaction – and a souvenir! – for the kids. And a clever promotional tool for you. Win-win.

    Even though I’m not doing school visits yet, I’m scheduling talks at various venues. Every tip you’ve given is either currently helpful or destined to save me later. Confidence and common sense advice from someone who has been there and done it well. I say, hurrah for Alexis!!

  • Alexis, I loved the sensible advice in the article “Dis-Invited” in the SCBWI Bulletin.

    Your tip about using the question cards is brilliant. Thanks.

    Best wishes,

  • Thanks, Millie. By the way, in November, I’ll post the text for the “DIs-Invited” article here in our resources section.

  • thanks for all these great ideas!

    p.s. My favorite “question” I received from a first grader:

    “I have a skunk!”

  • Love this!!! Totally going to use it!! Thanks!