‘Is it a …?’ is a great question to teach kids. It lets them work with a question format other than the standard Wh- questions, and uses the verb subject reversal to make a question, so they learn this possibility deep down.
There are other charms to teaching this as I hope to show.
I start teaching this by getting a set of vocabulary flash cards that I want to work on. Then I put four of them out (picture or word up.. depends on your students and your objective), and let them look at them. I scrutinize the cards myself miming memorizing and the students quickly pick it up and do the same.
After this, I get them to turn around so they can’t see the cards, or I put them behind a big board. Then I put one card underneath another of the cards. I let them look and let them guess, which they naturally do. No moving the cards of course. After one or two of these rounds, I start to elicit the ‘Is it a..?’ stem, either feeding it to them, looking in the text or starting saying the question (if we have studied it before).
They get it and run with it (not really run in this game! I am speaking figuratively here) and if they don’t I make it more clear through prompting repetition. Most kids love this game and the remainder enjoy it. It works, and it gets them to remember the vocabulary. But I want more.
Then I gather up the cards (perhaps in the second or third session after they are familiar with the game), and take them out of the children’s view. I choose one, and hide it behind my back, or interleaved in a book, or behind a blank card. Then I let the children know it is a card from the set and elicit the question. From here I am getting them to remember the whole set of cards, and use English too. It is a bit of juggling but I find I can get up to eight or nine without too much difficulty if they are familiar with the vocabulary.
The final step in this progression is to get them to choose the cards. This allows them to work on the responses “No, it isn’t” and “Yes, it is.” The progression goes beyond this, but it starts to use other grammatical forms, so I’ll write about it in later articles.