Teaching students to use context clues is fun with the right materials. Be sure to get the handout, as it contains all the teaching ideas and ready-to-go resources for your students. Better yet, all these activities are free.
This post provides the following:
- teaching ideas
- Two PowerPoint lessons with a student handout
- anchor chart design
- Two sets of task cards featuring sentences from Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (These task cards are provided in both printable and Boom Learning versions.)
Activities to Teach Context Clues
Get the handout with all activities by clicking on the button.
Activity #1 – 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 bag’s contents 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.
Baloney (Henry P) is a fun book to introduce context clues. Henry uses make-believe words in the book in a long excuse explaining why he is late for school. Students use context clues to figure out the meanings of unknown words.
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 sentences. See which student can fill in the most blanks in the specified time. End the activity by discussing how students knew 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.
Activity #2 – Anchor Chart
Hang an anchor chart up in the classroom with types of context clues and keywords for each type. Here is the one I used in my classroom.
Activity #3 – PowerPoint Lessons
The handout includes links to two PowerPoint Lessons.
The first PowerPoint is divided into three parts. In Part 1 of this PowerPoint, students learn about different context clues. The second part contains practice with affixes. In Part 3, resources for looking up unfamiliar words are discussed. Grab the handout shown in Activity #4 to use with this PowerPoint.
The second PowerPoint contains 17 cloze sentences. Students will see sentences containing missing words one at a time. 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. Students then select the word from the bank that best completes the sentence.
Activity #4 – Context Clues Handout
Students can figure out unfamiliar words’ meanings by using different context clues. Students will get a good idea of what the new word means by using other words and sentences near the unfamiliar word, along with knowledge of the topic.
This chart covers five common types of context clues with examples of each.
If you missed the link above, here it is again.
Activity #5 – Teaching Context Clues with Classical Literature
Students can figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word by using context clues. Students can get a good idea of what the new word means by using other words and sentences near the unfamiliar word, along with their knowledge of the topic. These task cards practice selecting the definition for a bold word found in the text.
Links to two sets of task cards with 24 questions each can be found in the handout. These practice exercises are provided in both printable and digital formats.
Playing Scoot turns using a set of task cards into a game. You play by placing one task card on each student’s desk. For easier recording, place the cards in numerical order. Give each student one copy of a sheet to record answers.
Each student will read the question on the activity card on his/her desk and record the answer. After a length of time (approximately 1 minute), a signal is given for the students to scoot to the next desk. The signal may be the teacher saying “move” or noise such as a bell. The procedure repeats at each desk. The activity continues until all students end up at the desks where they began the activity.
Activity #6 – Video Lesson and Organizer
Are you looking for more context clues activities? Check out this second blog post from Book Units Teacher titled Context Clues Practice and Activities. This post includes even more fun activities, including a video lesson reviewing contrast context clues.
Example of a Contrast Context Clue
Sally likes to dress ostentatiously. I’ve never seen her wear a dull color.
Common Core Standards for Context Clues
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.5.4.a Use context (e.g., cause/effect relationships and comparisons in text) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.6.4.a Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.7.4.a Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.