Further Expanding Questioning, Grandfather's Journey

Grade Levels: K - 3


This lesson is designed to help primary students continue to learn about the importance of asking questions before, during, and after reading by having the students generate all of the during-reading questions and some of the after-reading questions. Students should progress to this lesson once they have completed The Mitten lesson plan, Koko's Kitten lesson plan, and Frog and Toad Together lesson plan.

In this lesson, students will generate their own questions about the Caldecott Medal winner-Grandfather's Journey, by Allen Say. This is the fourth lesson of a set of questioning lessons designed for primary grades.



  1. Planning and Diangositics

    Students will need some writing skills to complete this lesson, as they will be writing in a double-entry journal. You may want to pair struggling writers with a partner who can write. Students should have a good understanding of how to ask and answer questions before, during, and after reading.

  2. Hook/Engagement

    Explain to students you want them to come up with "during-reading" questions as you read aloud to them, but you are going to ask them several before-reading questions to get them thinking about Grandfather's Journey. Show students the cover of the book and read the title aloud to them. Then, ask students the following questions:

    • What do you know about any of your grandparents' lives? Do you know where they grew up? Have you visited there?

    • Have you ever been on a boat on the ocean or taken a long journey?

    • How do you think that you would feel if you left America and moved to another country? Would you be afraid, excited, and so forth.

    • After hearing the title of this story, what would you predict this story to be about?

    Give students time to answer your questions; their answers will engage one another and get them ready to read the story. These questions will help them focus their "during-reading" questions more sharply by encouraging them to put themselves in the author's shoes and think about the idea of this story. Tell students that it is a true story; they are going to learn about the author's grandfather's journey to America, and how the author eventually had the same feelings about his "home" as his grandfather and therefore felt he really understood his grandfather.

  3. Vocabulary

    • Riverboat: a boat that is used on a river
    • Sculptures: three three-dimensional works of art such as a statue
    • Bewildered: to be confused
    • Warbler: a small singing bird
    • Silvereye: a very small bird
  4. Measurable Objectives

    Explain to students that you are going to read Grandfather's Journey aloud to them. Then you will ask them to think of some questions that they have about the story as you are reading to them. You will record their questions in a double-entry journal.

    At designated stopping points, they can tell you the answers they found, and you will record their answers. Then, after you've finished reading aloud to them, you'll ask them to write or draw an answer to a question they had about the book.

  5. Focused Instruction

    1. Draw a double-entry journal on the blackboard, a piece of chart paper, or use an overhead projector. Read pages 4-13 aloud to students and then stop. Ask students to tell you some questions that they thought about as you read to them. Have them show you the page of text or picture that made them think about the question they asked. Record their questions in the left-hand column of the double entry journal. (Some sample questions include: When did the author's grandfather leave for North America? What do I already know about the author's grandfather? What new places will he go to next in America? Will he get homesick and want to go back to Japan?)

    2. Explain to students that there are no right or wrong questions to ask during reading. The important detail is that they are asking themselves questions as you read to them to help them think about the story and the main character (the grandfather) and to help them predict what might happen next in the story. Overall, asking questions makes them curious and want to know more about the story, which keeps their interest and helps them understand the story.

    3. Read pages 14-17 aloud to students. Again, stop and review the questions you recorded for them in the first section of your read-aloud. Can they answer any of the questions yet? If they can, then record their answers. Then, ask students to ask any new questions they have about the pages you just read to them. Write their new questions in the double-entry journal. (Sample questions include: What do I know about California? Will the grandfather's wife and daughter like America? Will the grandfather take his family to live in Japan?) You may choose to show students on a map where Japan is in relation to California and show them the Pacific Ocean – the ocean the grandfather sailed on in the steamship.

    4. Read pages 18-23 aloud to students. Review the questions they have asked already to see if the can answer any and then write their new questions in the double-entry journal. (Some sample questions include: How do I think that Japan and America were different at this time? Will the grandfather's daughter stay in Japan with her baby?)

    5. Read pages 24-32 aloud to students and follow the same process of reviewing previous questions and recording students' new ones. Point out that after reading this section you will record the questions they had while you were reading these pages. For example, after you read page 26, they might have wondered what war the author was talking about. (You may choose to give students a very brief explanation of WWII or just talk about the war generally to help them understand the setting of this part of the story.)

    6. Review the process of asking questions during reading. Point to several questions that students asked and answered and show how asking those questions, and finding the answers to them later on in the book, helped students understand the book and the characters even more.

  6. Guided practice

    Review the idea of asking questions after reading. Explain that many of the questions that readers ask themselves after they have read a book are not questions that can be answered from the book. The stories or facts in books can make readers wonder about topics beyond what they just read. Model several questions that you had after reading Grandfather's Journey:

    • Why does the author end the story by saying that he thinks he knows his grandfather now?

    • Have I ever really felt homesick before?

    Pair students and have them think about a question that they had after you finished reading Grandfather's Journey to them. Give students some time to formulate a question and accept any reflective question that can somehow be connected to the story. Ask pairs to relate their question and explain why they had that question.

  7. Independent Practice

    Explain to students that you want them to think more about Grandfather's Journey now that you have finished reading the story to them. Ask each student to write or draw an answer to the "after-reading" question they asked with their partner in the Guided Practice activity. Once students are finished, ask them to share their writing or drawing and explain to the class why they came up with the answer they did.

  8. Assessment

    To assess whether students have learned the types of questions that you ask before, during, and after reading, write several questions about Grandfather's Journey on the blackboard or on a piece of chart paper. Ask them to explain whether each question is a before-, a during-, or an after-reading question. Then, assess whether the questions have aided their reading comprehension level by having students answer the questions. To further assess students' understanding of asking questions before, during, and after reading, select a new book that you have not read aloud to them and have them model the types of questions they should ask before you read, while you are reading to them, and after you have finished reading to them.

  9. Reflection and Planning

    Determine which students understand how and when to ask good questions before, during, and after reading by seeing if they correctly label the questions you gave them about Grandfather's Journey in the Assessment activity. Encourage students to use this questioning process with any new book that you read with them in class or those they read at home. If students are struggling with this strategy, review previous lesson plans that use different books and review the strategy of asking and answering questions.

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