The Birthday Party

story by Jane Buxton , illustrated by Anna Bron

Learning Intention:

I am learning to use different types of questioning techniques so that I can build on and connect ideas and opinions expressed by others.


Success Criteria:

  • I can use interaction skills to contribute to discussions
  • I can express and justify my opinions
  • I can use questioning to build on ideas expressed by others.


Essential knowledge:


Six Facets of Understanding

Questioning Toolkit


Oral language and communication:

Go through the classroom rules for small group discussion, or, if you don’t have a specific set, invite the class to come up with points of etiquette. Some examples would be:

  • one person speaking at a time
  • using inside voices
  • allowing others to express their viewpoints
  • using active listening.

Display these rules somewhere for students to refer to during the activity.


Understanding text:

As a class, read through The Birthday Party or, if you have a digital subscription, listen to the audio recording. Select some literal and inferential questions to ask the class about the text, such as:

- Who were the main characters?

- Why didn’t Liam want Andy at his birthday party?

- What happened when Andy arrived at the birthday party?

- Why do you think Corey invited Andy to his own birthday party?


Creating text:

Display the following questions on the board:

- Why do you think that?

- Can you think of another reason, either similar or different from your last?

- Can you think of an example from real life?


Put students into groups of three or four and have them sit in a circle. Explain that you will be posing a set of questions for the groups to discuss. Each person will have a turn giving their opinion, and others in the group can use the questions on the board or their own questions to clarify or build on the speaker’s ideas. Remind students of the group discussion rules from the beginning of the lesson. Give groups several minutes to discuss each question.

Teaching note: Each of the following questions link to the Questioning Toolkit and Six Facets of Understanding.


Question one (Explain):

Why is it important to be kind?


Question two (Interpret):

What would you do if you didn’t want an old friend to come to your birthday party, but they were expecting an invitation?


Question three (Apply):

What sort of impacts does kindness have on the whole community?


Question four (Have perspective):

Why are some people cruel?


Question five (Empathise):

What do you think would’ve happened on Monday if Liam hadn’t invited Andy to his birthday party? What about in a year’s time? Ten years’ time?


Question six (Have self-knowledge):

What actions can you personally take to make the world a kinder place?


Assessment for/as learning:

As an exit slip, students can answer one of the six questions before leaving the classroom. They are allowed to build upon someone else’s thoughts from the group discussion if they wish.