Strategies for Teaching Context Clues

Introducing Context Clues

By turning the study of context clues into game-like activities, students will learn techniques for figuring out new words. Games make the lesson fun and less of a challenge. I like to begin my study with one of the following activities:

  • Mystery Objects ~ Place objects into lunch-sized brown paper bags. Call on one student to describe the contents of the bag while others in the class try to guess what the object may be. I usually do this with four to five objects. Follow this activity by discussing how this activity is similar to figuring out unknown words in a sentence.
  • Cloze Activity ~ Provide sentences with one word missing. Turn completing the sentences into a competition by allowing students only a minute or two to complete the missing words. See which student can fill in the most blanks in the specified amount of time. End the activity with a discussion of how students were able to know what the missing word should be. Compare this activity to coming across an unfamiliar word while reading.

Examples of Cloze Sentences:

On the _________________ we had a picnic and watched the fireworks.

Martha had to stay in bed when she had a ____________ of 102.

  • Baloney is a fun book to introduce context clues.

Activities to Teach Context Clues

Hang an anchor chart up in the classroom with types of context clues and key words for each type. Here is the one I used in my classroom.

Context Clues Anchor Chart

This PowerPoint contains 17 cloze sentences. Students will see one sentence at a time which contains a missing word. A word bank is provided for students to complete the sentence. Students first look for clue words in the sentence. With one click of the mouse, the clue words are highlighted. [See the second slide below.] This makes a great beginning activity in your context clues study. You can download this PowerPoint by clicking on one of the images below:

Free Context Clues PowerPoint

Free Context Clues PowerPoint Here is a second PowerPoint you can download to use in your classroom. In Part 1 of this PowerPoint, students learn about different types of context clues, in Part 2 students practice with affixes, and in Part 3 resources for looking up unfamiliar words are discussed.

Free Word Study PowerPointHere is a printable handout that goes along with the PowerPoint:

Context Clues Graphic OrganizerAdditional Resources to Teach Context Clues

Context Clues on Pinterest


Context Clues Unit at Teachers Pay Teachers


Gay Miller

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