Using KWL Charts Remotely with Children and Families

toddler boy drawing draw using colored pencils

I’m fond of the idea of having students…whether the child or the parent…give some thought to their prior knowledge, contemplate what more they’d like to know, and what they learned from the lesson or activity. A simple KWL activity and chart can help families access what they know (K), what they want to know (W), and then think about what they learned (L.) You can create a simple three-column chart to e-mail out to the family or chart their answers on a chart on your document camera, or, even, hang a chart paper rendering on the wall behind you to record answers. It’s simple; it can look like this…


And it might go like this:

  • Today we’re going to learn about worms. What do you think you already know about worms?
  • Are there other things you want to know about worms?
  • Though you might already have the worm lesson planned…book, art activities, and exploring in the yard…you can incorporate the children’s ideas into the lesson. If you don’t know the answers to everything they want to know look them up later and add to the next day’s lesson on worms.
  • Finally, what did you learn about worms today?

Using this method with families might focus on a parent’s question about toilet training their child. Using the same questions we can find out what they already know or believe they know, what information they think they need, provide information for them…advice, written information, etc., give them a chance to practice with their child, and close with asking how it went, what they learned about toilet training and…really important…their child.

This article was contributed by Mary Perkins for the Early Childhood Express newsletter.