Thanks for Checking In

Scissorcraft offers low cost, Ad-free subscriptions.   Only $15.00 per year for thousands of quality, personally illustrated, educational graphics for children of any age or skill level.
Access to large images available upon log on.


mind map prioritiesthHow to Write Open-Ended Questions

pdf version

Open-ended questions help people learn about each other, share knowledge and experiences in a meaningful, imaginative and entertaining manner. No one can predict what direction an answer might take because open-ended, divergent questions can:

  • have more than one answer
  • be answered in many ways

Close-ended questions (conversation stoppers) leave no openings for further discussion which easily allows a person to give one or two word responses. Closed-ended questions can shut down conversations before they start.

Examples of closed-ended questions:

  • What is your favorite radio station?
  • Where did you go on vacation?
  • How was the concert?

Examples of open-ended questions:

  • Why do you enjoy your radio station's genre of music?
  • What sights did you see on your vacation?
  • Tell me all about the concert.

Open-ended questions challenge and help develop thinking skills.what surpriseth

Provocative questions challenge the individual to exercise critical thought in order to extrapolate or formulate a possible outcome.

Thought-provoking questions often have several layers of conditions for a speaker to consider which may stimulate the limits of a person's public speaking development.

Each individual is unique in personal experiences, knowledge and capability. Open-ended conversation starter questions or statements acknowledge the diversity between individuals and encourage people to use creative thinking in response to a variety of issues.

Types of Provocative Open-Ended Questions

Prediction Makers Bring out the inner crystal ball.

  • What do you think will happen if...?
  • What do you think will happen if (__________) continues to happen?
  • What do you think would happen if…?

Thought Stretchers - Challenge stereotypical thought examine cause and effect.

  • What would happen if …?
  • What would the world be like without (_______________)? How would we cope?

Consideration of Consequences – And the walls came tumbling down...because?

  • What could happen if you…?
  • What would happen if you always fed your pets outside?

Assessment of Feelings - Emotional Impact of discovering your ex won the Lotto.

  • How would you feel if...?
  • How did this make you feel?
  • How would you feel if (_______________) happened to you? What do you think other people would feel?

Comparison of Similarities vs Differences – How could differences and similarities be of benefit and why do people toss ice cubes in trash cans anyway)?

How do these differ?

all color

  • How are they the same?
  • What makes some colors seem to go together while other color combinations clash?
  • What do color-blind (chromosome-impaired) people see?

Application of Knowledge – How you apply your knowledge to solve problem.

  • How would you…?
  • What steps would you take to...?
  • Show us how you… ?

Evaluation -

  • What could you do differently…?
  • How do you feel about...?
  • How would you fix a leaky...?
  • What made you decide to buy...? How did this purchase make you feel?
  • What could you do instead?

A good place to start when thinking up good open-ended queries is to use the tried and true 5-W's of journalism:


  • Who was involved?
  • Who inspires you...?
  • Who are you?
  • Who depends on you?
  • Who do you dream about?
  • Who do you love and what are you doing about it?
  • Who do you sometimes compare yourself to?
  • Who do you trust and why?
  • Who has had the greatest impact on your life?
  • Who impresses you?
  • Who makes you feel good about yourself?
  • Who or what is the greatest enemy of mankind?
  • Who owns the Earth
  • Who would you like to please the most?
  • Whose life have you had the greatest impact on?


  • Where did it take place?
  • Where do you imagine yourself living ten years from now?
  • Where were you during the most terrifying moment of your life?
  • Where were you the last time you lost your temper? And why?
  • Where do you find inspiration?
  • Where do you find peace?
  • Where do you spend most of your waking time?
  • Where else would you like to live? Why?


  • What happens when...?
  • What makes you, you?
  • What can you do today that you could not a year ago?
  • What confuses you?
  • What could civilization do without?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What you do differently than most people?
  • What do you do with the majority of your money?
  • What do you have that you cannot live without?
  • What do you have to lose?
  • What do you have the most trouble visualizing?
  • What do you wish you had done differently?
  • What gives your life meaning?
  • What good comes from suffering?
  • Which activities make you lose track of time?
  • Which came first: the chicken or the egg?
  • Which is worse, failing or never trying?
  • What habit do you hate doing and why can't you stop?


  • Why did (____________) happen?
  • Why are manners important?
  • Why are you, you?
  • Why do you matter?
  • Why do you get up in the morning?
  • Why have a pet?
  • Why do people need vacations?
  • Why do you hesitate to try something new?
  • Why do people lie?
  • Why should people vote?
  • Why should I...?
  • Why do I feel uncomfortable in new situations?
  • Why do I fear public speaking?
  • Why can't I...?
  • Why do people do stupid things?


  • When did (____________) take place?
  • When is your joy at its peak?
  • When is lying a good idea?
  • When did you first realize that life is short?
  • When did you not speak up when you should have?
  • When do you feel most like yourself?
  • When have you been stereotyped?
  • When is lying a good idea?
  • When was your first impression of someone totally wrong?
  • When do good manners matter the most?

How (sometimes)

  • How did (____________) happen?
  • How would you spend your ideal day?
  • How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
  • In 3 words, how would you describe your future?
  • How do you approach buying a new car?
  • How will today matter five years from now?
  • Has an event caused you to change your life?
  • How do you do to relieve stress?
  • How do you spend your money?
  • How do you spend your free time?
  • How or has fear of failure stopped you from doing something?
  • How or has your greatest fear ever come true?

By Pat Kelley 9-2018