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Junior Journalism: Local students discover role of ‘six serving men’ in helping them write

Published in the July 20 – Aug. 2, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By the Summer Achievement Program Class for the Mt. Madonna YMCA

Three girls from the YMCA Summer Achievement program mug for the camera. Photo by Kenia George

Three girls from the YMCA Summer Achievement program mug for the camera.
Photo by Kenia George, a student in the program

Questions are key to creating quality content for a composition. If you can ask the right questions, more than likely you’ll get good information to write a newspaper story or a paper for your school teacher. Asking smart questions also makes you smarter because it works out your brain.

We learned a little poem about questions. It was written by Rudyard Kipling, an author who lived about 100 years ago. It goes:

“I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.”

The six servants in the poem are the questions what, why, when, how, where and how. Writers use these words to help them think up smart questions that stimulate their brains and help them think with more focus about what they want to say to the reader. Readers can also use these six words while they are reading a newspaper article or a story and become more engaged with the knowledge they are learning.

We practiced making up questions using the six honest serving men and here are some questions we came up with:

How do brains make you smart?

What is our heart made out of?

How does a person become blind?

What are rainbows made of?

Why do people have dimples?

What size is the Earth? The Moon?

How do people grow?

How many books are there in the world?

How did the Earth grow?

What is in the fridge?

How do you make ice cream?

How do you make hot dogs?

How much does Jupiter weigh?

How hot is the sun?

How come the world turns?

What is a puppy made out of?

Who is going to be the next president?

How did the dinosaurs die off?

What is a friend?

How do you make a paper boat?

What will you do when you’re big?

How do you become a YMCA teacher?

How do you ride a quad?

How do you become a clown?

How do you ride a bull?

How do you make a cupcake?

Asking questions can be fun if you know the six honest serving men. Asking good questions can also make you learn better and help you be smarter.

After a Junior Journalism workshop with publisher Marty Cheek at P.A. Walsh STEAM Academy, first and second graders in the Summer Achievement Program Class for the Mt. Madonna YMCA wrote this column.