Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, K-3

In the BrainPOP ELL movie, What Is It? (L1U1L3), Moby comes to visit Ben, bringing him a surprise. As Ben tries to guess what’s in the box, students are introduced to the interrogative form of the verb to be. In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-8, students use images and games to practice making questions with the present tense affirmative of the verb to be.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Change statements to questions in a hands-on, kinesthetic activity.
  2. Ask and answer questions to discover a mystery object.
  3. Identify questions in the movie What is it? (L1U1L3).



who, what, when, where, how, why

ball, skateboard, skates, toy, book, food, cake, cupcake


  • Cut apart the images of the Four Toys.
  • Prepare sentence cards with each word and punctuation mark on a separate card. Make them big enough for the whole class to see. Keep the two sets of sentence cards separate.

    1. It is a book. Is it a book?  (Eight cards: It / is / a / book / . / Is / it / ? / )
    2. You are a magician. Are you a magician? (Eight Cards: You / are / a / magician / . / Are / you / ? / )
  • Gather objects to use in the Guessing Game activity, and either a bag or box to place items in.
  • Lesson Procedure:

    1. Sentence Cards. Lay out the cards you prepared for the sentence It is a book. (5 cards) Invite five students to the front of the class. Each should take a card, and stand in order so they create a sentence. Then ask them to rearrange themselves to create a question. When the It and is have changed places, ask if there is anything else they have to do to make it a correct question? Reveal the additional three cards ( Is / it / ? ) and ask the students to correct the question. Repeat the procedure for the second set of cards. Distribute blank cards to small groups and ask them to make up their own sentence and question cards. Have teams exchange their new sentence cards and play.
    2. Keeping Count of Questions. During a repeated viewing of the movie What is it? (L1U1L3), ask students to count how many questions they hear. (Answer: 15)
    3. Guessing Game. Play a guessing game in class where students have to guess an object that you have placed inside a bag or box. Begin with the images of the four toys from the movie. Here are some ideas:

      Have several objects, or pictures of objects, available, to keep changing.The student who guesses correctly changes places with you and selects something to hide in the bag. You might want the last object to be a cupcake, or a picture of a cupcake, as it is in the movie.

      Select one student to be the guesser. The guesser then hides his eyes as you reveal the object to the class. Then, when he asks each question, the whole class answers, “NO!”

      In pairs, have students make up a mini dialogue and perform them for the class. Encourage them to use props. You can write sentence frames on the board for them to choose from:
      • Is it a ______________? No, it isn’t.
      • No, it’s not.
      • No, it isn’t a ___________.
      • No, it’s not a ___________.

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