the United States from Central America just a few weeks before. Carlos said nothing for several seconds. Ms. Winter and the children waited. Then Carlos said, “Tenedor, um, fork!”
Marisa, who was sitting next to Carlos, piped up. “He’s supposed to ask it as a question, right?”
“Marisa’s right,” said Ms. Winter. “You’re asking if there’s a fork inside our Mystery Box, Carlos, is that right?” Carlos nodded. “Can you say it as a question?”
“Is it a fork?” Carlos asked.
“Is it a fork?, Carlos wants to know,” said Ms. Winter. “That’s another good question, because what is in the Mystery Box … is not a fork.” The children laughed and clapped. “And because it’s not a fork, what have we learned?” Ms. Winter picked up the plastic fork, the wooden fork, and the metal fork.
“We don’t need them,” two children said.
“Right. Because we know it’s not a fork in our box, we can get rid of every single fork. It can’t be one of these.” Ms. Winter put the three forks out of sight.
“Hey, I just noticed something interesting,” said Ms. Winter. “With Maya’s question we got rid of one thing, the plastic spoon. With Carlos’s question, we got rid of three things, all three forks. Can anyone figure out why that is?” No one said anything. Ms. Winter waited.
Finally, Kelly, who tended not to talk much in the large group, raised her hand. “Carlos asked about all of the forks, and Maya just asked about the plastic one, just the plastic spoon.”
“Wow! Did anyone hear what Kelly said?”
Lots of hands went up.
“Does anyone think they can put what Kelly said in their own words? Yes, James?”
“She said Carlos asked his question about all the forks. Maya asked about only one spoon—the plastic spoon. It’s like we got three answers with one question.”
“Is that what you were saying, Kelly?”
“Wow, you guys are really thinking today. I can see smoke coming out of your ears. Let’s see who’s next. Lassandra?”
“It has to be a spoon,” several children called out.
“Ah, but which spoon? What is the spoon made of?” Ms. Winter asked. “Lassandra?”
“Is it the wooden spoon?”
“That’s a very good question. Do you know why? Because, I’m telling you the truth, it is the wooden spoon.” The kids squealed with delight. Ms. Winter reached for the key. “So you think there’s going to be a wooden spoon in there? How certain are you?”
“A billion percent,” called out Jason. Slowly and dramatically Ms. Winter removed the lock and opened the doors of the Mystery Box, revealing—“Ta dah!”—the wooden spoon inside. “Congratulations,” Ms. Winter said. “Just by asking questions, without being able to see inside, you’ve discovered what’s in the Mystery Box.” Ms. Winter’s 22 kindergartners broke into applause.