Children need to be able to answer a variety of questions to participate in conversations as well as classroom activities. Here are some guides for teaching your child to answer how questions.

How Questions Step One:
Quantity How Questions

The first type of how questions we will work on is about quantity. These are questions like “how many sandwiches do you have?” or “how much soup is there?”. Answers to these questions are either specific numbers or other quantity words like “a little”, “a lot”, etc.  Find some small objects that you have more than one of. These can be toy cars, food, game pieces,etc. Put one down in front of your child and say “how many ___ are there?”. Have your child count and tell you there is one. Now, place a few more in front of your child and ask again. Help him count again and tell you the correct number. Make sure you don’t place more objects out tha your child is able to count. Keep doing this until your child can tell you the correct number every time you say “how many”. You may have to keep practicing this a while before he starts to get it. Once he can do specific number, switch to “how much” questions about things that don’t necessarily need to be counted with specific numbers. For example, you would say “how many sandwiches” but you would say “how much soup”. The answer to a “how much” question would be “a little”, “a lot”, or some other quantity word that’s not a specific number.

How Questions Step Two:
Quality How Questions

Quality how questions are all about using your 5 senses to gain information about what’s going on around you. These are questions like “how does it feel?” or “how does it taste?”.   Find one object that you would like to describe. Show it to your child and ask “how does it ___(feel, smell, look, sound, taste)?” Choose how questions about one sense to use at a time for this. Have your child think of all the words she can to describe that object using that sense. Use the worksheet on the following page to circle the descriptors that match that object. You can slide the sheet into a page protector and write on it with a dry erase marker so you can use it again. Or, make your own list using the adjectives that your child comes up with. If your child is stuck and needs some help, start giving her choices of descriptors that might fit. For example, you could say “is it bumpy or smooth?”. Then, let her pick which one fits the object best.

How Questions Step Three:
Extent How Questions

Now we’re going to work on how questions about the extent of something. For example, you can ask “how excited are you?” or “how hot is it outside?”. These are all questions that will be answered with a range of severities or intensities.   Find chances throughout the day to ask extent how questions about what your child is experiencing. You can ask your child about his emotions (“how sad are you right now?”) or about things he is feeling (“how wet is your swimsuit?”). Help your child to answer with a severity or intensity, like “very sad, a little sad, not sad” or “very wet, a little wet, or not wet”.

How Questions Step Four:
Procedural How Questions

The last type of how questions that you can work on is procedural how questions. These are questions that ask how something is done. The answer will be a procedure for how to do it.  Use the pictures on the next page or make pictures of your own that represent a complex but familiar series of events. This could be something like brushing your teeth, washing your hands, building a sand castle, etc. Show your child one picture and ask her “how do you _____?”. Help her form her answer with a statement about what you do first (“First, you…”), some statements about what happens next (“Next, you…” or “then, you…), and then a statement about what you do last (“Last, you…” or “Finally, you…”). Using words like “first”, “then”, and “last” will help your child organize her thoughts better and make sure everything comes out in a logical manner. Make sure your child also includes all of the important steps to the task.

Where to Find More Information:

A more detailed version of this guide about teaching how questions, along with 38 other guides, is included in Ms. Carrie’s E-Book: Speech and Language Therapy Guide: Step-By-Step Speech Therapy Activities to Teach Speech and Language Skills At Home or In Therapy.  This guide includes detailed information on teaching various speech and language skills, including this one, along with worksheets, handouts, sample IEP goals, and data collection sheets.  For more information, click the button below:

Speech and Language Therapy Guide