Fat or Skinny?



Sarah Stanley



 Rationale:  Comprehension is essential for reading.  But to get children to really comprehend we have to get them to question what they read.  This does not mean asking factual questions about what color the dog’s collar was (skinny questions), but questions that make them think further (fat questions).  This lesson focuses on helping children go further in their reading and help them learn how to develop those fat questions to use on their own.



“The Case of the Rainy Day Mystery” by James Preller (Copies for each student)

Sticky notes


            Can I find the answer to my question by rereading?

            Do I have to make an inference to answer my question?

            Could their be more than one answer to my question?



  1. We are going to be working on our comprehending skills today.  Can anyone tell me what I mean when I say comprehending?  Good!  It means to really understand what we read.  We are going to work on understanding what we read and ask some really good questions.
  2. Now there are two types of questions you can ask, fat or skinny.  Skinny questions are factual questions.  For example, what color shirt is Joey wearing?  Blue, that is a fact.  But it does not make you think further.  Now what if I asked you why Joey was wearing the blue shirt.  There could be a lot of different answer to that question.  So now that we know the different types of questions, we should probably talk about how you know when a question is fat or skinny.
  3. If you can find your answer by rereading the story or if it is something that was clearly stated in the book, what kind of question would that be?  Good! A skinny question.  What if you asked a question where you had to make a guess or if there is more than one answer to it?  Great!  That would be a fat question.  Now, remember our silent reading skills?  Right, that means that we need to read to ourselves.  As I read, I am going to ask questions about what I am reading.  I am going to write each question on a sticky note to keep track.  Watch me as I read the first paragraph (model for the students).
  4. I wrote my questions down on this sticky note and as I wrote them I went through our checklist.  Now its your turn.  Read the first chapter of The Case of the Rainy Day Mystery and write your questions down.  Remember our checklist!  Keep those questions away from facts that you can get by reading!
  5. Look around and check that students are writing some questions down on their sticky notes.
  6. For assessment:  we will discuss each other’s questions and see what the different types of questions and answers we get.  Since I cannot possibly go through every single question with the children I will pick up their questions and talk to them individually later through out the day to help them come up with some answers.




Preller, James.  “The Case of the Rainy Day Mystery”.  Scholastic, Inc.  2003.


Kirkpatrick, Katie.  Reading to Learn. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/guides/kirkpatrickrl.html.

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