Follow Their Lead
What are the best questions? Often they are the ones children ask YOU! Use their own questions as a source. They will guide you to their interests. Why is the sky blue? Why does that dog have only three legs? How are crayons made? Notice both the content and the process of the questions. This will show you the subjects that children are interested in (weather, animals, technology) and the process they are curious about (why and how).
Remember: When asking questions, children aren't always looking for detailed answers. Often they are looking for a way to simply express their wonder about the world. In fact, they may already have an answer in mind. And their answer may be more magical and creative than the "real" answer. Don't be too quick to answer a question. Ask, What do you think? Could there be many answers to that particular question?
Don't Hold Back
Use your own curiosity to inspire theirs. What do you wonder about? Next time you are on your way to work, or just sipping a cup of tea at home, notice what you wonder about. As you drive through the rain, you might notice that there are no birds or butterflies to be seen. Where do they go when it rains? What do the deer do in the deep snow? Share your own questions with the children at group time. Be prepared for some creative and interesting answers. Accept them all, supporting all forms of curiosity and creative thinking.
Start With an Object
Showing children an unusual object or prop can be a great way to begin a question session. You can use something familiar (like a key, a string, and a banana) and invite children to consider unfamiliar ways to use it. How many ways can you use a key? What if you add a string to the key? How can you use them together? Encourage children to manipulate the objects to see all their possibilities. Using an unfamiliar object such as an unusual tool, or an uncommon fruit or vegetable can invite children to wonder. What do you think this could be? How is it used?
WONDER ABOUT ...
Collect unusual and interesting photos and pictures from magazines and the Internet. When you show a picture of an action taking place, invite children to use their curiosity. What do you think could have happened just before this picture was taken? What started this situation? What is happening now? What might happen next? These questions invite children to think about time sequences and develop temporal understanding as well as inquisitiveness.
... A STORY
Favorite and familiar stories are an excellent starting place for questions that invite children to consider different viewpoints. If you were one of the three pigs, what would you be thinking when the wolf was trying to get in your house? What if you were the wolf? How would you feel?
... An IDEA
After using objects for your questions, children can be ready for some more abstract questions that they "see" in their minds. "What would happen if ...?" questions can be used to arouse children's curiosity about an idea and invite their imaginations to run wild. What would happen if ... there were no televisions? What would happen if ... the grass were blue and the sky were green?
With all these questions flying around, you are bound to rouse children to ask questions of one another. Encourage them to use question starters such as, "What will happen if ... ? How many ways can you ...?" Write these on chart paper and keep on display in your group-time area.