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Examples of questions at Blank Level 2 – Describing

What are Blank Levels?

Your child is developing their understanding at Blank Level 2 which means that they are learning to apply vocabulary and language to things in their environment (naming and describing). They need to develop the ability to select what to attend to, for example, which element of the picture or sentence, size, colour, function and so on.

Your child is not yet able to describe, talk about events or stories and problem solve -infer, reason and answer ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions about pictures and spoken scenarios, information and experiences. This also applies to their emotional understanding.

Strategies to support your child’s understanding at this level

  • Give one instruction at a time
  • Use short phrases to comment or request on the ‘here and now’, for example, “blue car”, “the boy is swimming”, “Jenni peel banana”
  • Provide choices, for example, “What is she doing? Is she running or jumping?”
  • Use sentence starters such as, “What is he doing? He’s…”
  • Use gesture or demo – give a gesture or sign to help your child recall, point to the answer
  • Provide a sound cue, for example, “It’s a ke…” for kettle
  • Ask questions where the answer is in the picture, for example, ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘what is happening’, naming characteristics
  • Teach the question link by modelling the question and answer, for example, “What colour is the ball..? The ball is red”) – you can do this after completing a sentence builder
  • Pre-teach vocabulary to enable to your child to answer wh- questions
  • Talk about categories using simple sentences, for example, “orange and banana are both fruit”
  • Talk about characteristics using simple sentences, for example, “You eat an apple”, “You travel in a car”, “The apple is green”, “Look at the big slide”
  • Comment on things that are ‘different’ and describe how, for example, “The banana is soft, the apple is hard”, “The horse is fast, the turtle is slow”

Examples of visual support you can use

Ideas for activities to try

  • Teaching staff to access free LEAP training on Learn Sheffield – assess your child to identify the appropriate level
  • Teaching staff to access free VIP training on Learn Sheffield – assess your child to identify the appropriate level
  • Use a feely bag and treasure hunts for naming and teaching concept words such as “blue ball”, “small book”), or concept questions such as “find the blue ball”, “show me the green apple”
  • Use sentence builders and question prompts. Use symbols to build a sentence and then model question and answer such as “what is the girl doing… she’s climbing!”. This can be done with generic pictures, videos, photos of themselves or people they know doing activities.
  • Play category games:
    • use real objects or pictures and focus on matching e.g. category, colour, size, function.
      support your child to group them (e.g. “let’s put all the food in this bag and all of the animals in the box”, “lets find all of the red ones”).
    • support your child to link them (e.g. “which one goes with …?”)
    • support your child to identify function (e.g. “which one can you eat?”, “which one can you clean with?”)
  • Play barrier games where your child follows the concept word such as colour, size, attributes, in the short 2-3 key word instruction, for example, “make the car blue”, “make the big flower red”


  • Multi-step instructions such as ‘Can you go and put the bag on the peg and get the paint from the cupboard’)
  • Questions asking for a recall of an event, for example, ‘what happened?’)
  • ‘Why’, ‘how’, and ‘when’ questions such as ‘why did you do that?’, ‘how did that happen?’

Classroom learning ideas

  • Pre-teach vocabulary – nouns, verbs, concepts
  • Use sorting tasks – support your child to sort pictures into ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘what doing’, ‘where’, ‘what like’ & ‘how feel’
  • Play matching lotto games
  • Work on listening comprehension, for example, ‘Point to…’ ‘Find me a …’
  • Describe a scene of a story
    • Build a sentence maker
    • Talking – describe what they can see
    • You child’s response can be a spoken word, choice of a picture or Makaton sign
  • Answer ‘wh’ questions about the sentence maker – ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘what doing’, ‘where’, ‘what like’ & ‘how feel’

Examples of questions at this level


Widgit of home corner

Home corner

  • What do we cut with?
  • What other food can we have to eat? (objects in sight)
  • Find me a big plate
  • Teddy is eating cake and dolly is eating strawberries. Who is eating cake?
Widgit of water play

Water play

  • Show me something we can use to catch the fish?
  • What other animals live in the water (objects in sight)
  • Find me a red fish
  • The fish is swimming under the boat. Where is the fish?
Widgit of snack time

Snack time

  • What do we use to cut the apple?
  • Name some other fruit we have for snack (objects in sight)
  • Milk comes from cows. Where does milk come from?
  • What shape is your plate?
Widgit of farm


  • Find me something that the farmer drives
  • Name me some other farm animals (objects in sight)
  • The cows are eating grass and the pig is asleep. Who is sleeping? What are the cows doing?
  • Find me the big horse
Widgit of playground

Outside play

  • Where is the big ball?
  • What other toys can we play with? (objects in sight)
  • Find me 2 hoops
  • What is happening?
Widgit of playdough


  • Which one can we use for rolling out the playdough?
  • What are you making?
  • Find me a star shaped cutter
  • Name me some more shapes (objects in sight)
Widgit of sandpit


  • What are you making?
  • Find me something we can use for digging
  • Find me the little bucket
  • The crab is hiding under the sand and the starfish is in the bucket. Where is the crab?
Widgit of story


  • Who is it?
  • What is that?
  • Where are they?
  • What is happening?
Widgit of dollhouse

Dolls house

  • What do we use a chair for?
  • We sleep in a…
  • Mum is cooking tea and the boy is in his bedroom playing. What is mum doing? Where is the boy? Who is cooking?
  • What is happening?
Widgit of garage

Car mat and garage

  • Find the red car
  • The car is going to the garage to get some petrol. What is the car doing?
  • What is happening?
  • What else has wheels? (objects in sight)
Widgit of literacy

Literacy or English literature

  • Answer who, what, where, questions about information that has just been given, shown or read. This requires recall.
  • Identify properties or attributes such as ‘who is kind or mean or generous or ugly or beautiful?’, or a plot that is exciting, boring, and so on.
  • Categorise examples such as ‘name another character in the story or scene’, or show a picture of groceries, ‘what fruits can you see?’, or ask what settings are used
  • Give another example, such as ‘yes, Bill is a character. What other character are in the film or book?’


  • Identify by properties or attributes such as more than, the least, the total, first, last, heaviest, lightest, smallest
  • Categorise examples such as types of triangles
  • Name other shapes in the same category such as types of triangle, and 4 sided shapes
Widgit of science


  • Identify by properties or attributes such as ‘which material is flexible or ridged?’ ‘which is acid which is alkali?’ ‘which is a conductor or insulator?’
  • Categorise items such as ‘yes, a whale is a mammal, what other mammal can you think of?’
  • Identify items by a description of their function such as ‘what pumps blood in the body?’, ‘which could you use to make clothes?’, ‘ what is used to heat up the contents of a test tube?’. Try this first where the items or pictures of the items are in front of your child, in later lessons, try this where the items are not visible.
  • Describe what is happening such as ‘what happens to the shadow?’
Widgit of technology

Design and technology

  • Identify items by a description of their function. Try this where the equipment is in front of your child, in later lessons try this where the things are not visible.
  • Categorise items of equipment such as that cut, stick, clamp, or secure materials.
  • Give another example within the category such as other things that could be used to cut a particular kind of material.
Widgit of geography


  • Identify by properties or attributes such as ‘look at the map and show me a red or yellow road’, ‘ how is a church drawn on a map?’, or how does a map show hills, rainfall, temperatures and so on.
  • Categorise items such as ‘find all the rivers, write down their names’, ‘what do you think these brown shapes are?’ list rivers or countries that are part of Europe.
  • Explain what is happening such as ‘what is happening?’, or ‘what can you see in the picture?’
  • Identify what other items might fit the same category, such as ‘what other colours are used to show a road?’, other mountainous regions or areas with similar rainfall level
Widgit of history


  • Answer who, what, where questions about information that has just been given, shown or read. This requires recall.
  • Identify by properties or attributes such as ‘which picture shows wealth, poverty, peace or wartime?’, or ‘show me the big ship’
  • Categorise examples such as ’causes of this event’, ‘what were the 3 main aims of this event’
  • Give another example

Blank Level 2 – Naming and describing emotions

Your child is learning to apply vocabulary and language to their emotions (naming and describing at Blank Level 2).  Your child is not yet able to independently retell a story and problem solve, for example, answer ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions about incidents involving emotional dysregulation.

It is helpful to reduce the language levels being taught and used for children with emotional regulation needs because while they may have language to describe their experiences and get their needs met in their everyday lives,

  • they may have a specific gap in their language to describe and manage their emotions such as words for emotions, words to request coping strategies
  • it is more difficult to process and use language when dysregulated

1. Understand the behaviour

Behaviour can often be a sign that there is a problem, for example, your child running out of the room or flapping their hands may be a sign that they are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or not sure what to do, and lashing out or hitting someone may be your child reacting to unexpected change or behaviours around them. It is important to know the specific non-verbal signs your child shows and what this behaviour means for your child.

An emotional regulation profile and a positive behaviour support plan is helpful to identify patterns and signs that your child might be showing.

It would be helpful if you consider:

  • Non-verbal signs of an emotion such as sad, happy, angry, worried, scared
  • Strategies and tools that help each emotion and these may be different for each emotion
  • Patterns and events which cause an emotion

Zones of Regulation is a useful framework for this.

2. Provide predictability and regulating strategies consistently to maintain your child’s emotional wellbeing

To avoid dysregulation in their environment and what is being asked of them. This will reduce their anxiety and support their independence in the classroom. Examples include:

  • Visual timetables and now and next boards
  • Transition supports such as object of reference, symbol support and a countdown timer
  • Regular sensory breaks
  • Model and provide visual support for activities and what is expected of them so that your child can see what they are expected to do
    • Task instruction lists such as step by step instructions of how to do a task
    • Avoid blank pieces of paper, instead show your child what is expected by providing visual scaffolds such as checklists for them to fill in or tick off

3. Adults to coach emotions and behaviour with Blank Level 2 strategies in the moment

Children can apply and learn the words best when they hear them in the moment as they will be feeling the emotion making it very real. Thinking about a time when you felt a specific emotion or how a character feels is very abstract, but can be included in one to one work when your child is more competent at naming emotions in themselves.

  • Reduce the length of your sentences – use only a few key words as it will be difficult for your child to take in lots of spoken information when dysregulated
  • Teach the emotion word by labelling how your child is feeling in the moment such as “you are sad”
  • Show your child the matching emotion symbol card
  • Mirror their facial expression so that they can see what you see
  • Describe what you can see – tell them face and body clues you can see such as “you are crying”
  • Provide a regulating strategy by modelling, for example, give them a hug or take them to their blanket
  • Provide a choice visually with objects, for example, show them their blanket and sensory toy
  • Provide a choice visually with symbols, for example, show the strategy choice side of emotional regulation card with photo or symbol of the soothing strategy
  • After the incident when your child is calm, if asking for details, ask simple concrete questions such as “Who was it?”, “What did you do?”, “Where were you?”
  • Tell your child what happened and how it affected other people such as “Joe hit Sam, this made Sam sad”
  • Describe appropriate behaviours and reactions in short and simple sentences
  • Don’t ask complex questions. Additional questions related to emotions and behaviour such as ‘why did you do that?’ and ‘what should you have done?’) are currently too high level for your child to understand and may lead to further emotional dysregulation due to feeling overwhelmed.
  • Name or show symbol cards for an emotion that they are not feeling in that moment in a bid to support them to transition to that emotion such as “happy” when they are sad, crying or dysregulated. This will confuse your child.
  • Use negative statements such as ‘don’t run’ as this concept may be too advanced, instead tell them what to do such as ‘walk’.

As your child becomes more familiar with emotions in themselves targeted work to support recognition of emotions in other people, characters in pictures, stories and videos such as Disney ‘inside out’ video clips would be helpful to broaden their emotional understanding.

For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House.

Telephone: 0114 226 2333
Email: scn-tr.slt-sheffield@nhs.net

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: SL281

Resource Type: Article

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