In contrast context clues, an antonym for the word is given in the text. Words like although, however, and not-this-but may signal contrast clues.
Daniel was apprehensive about mountain climbing, but Sam had no worries at all.
In this contrasting context, no worries at all are clue words. Therefore, apprehensive means the opposite of no worries at all. Students can infer that apprehensive means feeling anxiety about future events.
The sweltering weather was soon replaced with cool, gentle breezes.
Ask students to find clue words to help determine the meaning of the word sweltering. Students should quickly realize that this sentence contains contrasting statements. The words cool, gentle breezes mean the opposite of sweltering. With a little thought, students can determine the word sweltering means overly hot and humid.
Get the handout to go with this post. This handout includes the sample questions below in printable format and links to the printable and Google Slide organizers to accompany the lesson video.
What do context clues questions look like on standardized tests?
Context clues are usually tested using matching or multiple-choice questions.
Sample Question #1 – Matching
Read the sentences on the left. Match the bold word from each sentence on the left to its definition on the right.
fried in a small amount of hot fat
to press into less space
The correct answers are introverted > shy, dilate > make wider or larger, and sautéed > fried in a small amount of hot fat.
Sample Question #2 – Multiple Choice
What is the meaning of picturesque as it is used in this sentence?
I thought the painting of the waves crashing into the shore was very picturesque, however, I thought the one next to it was quite ugly.
A. visually pleasing, enchanting, or unusual
B. evoking vivid images
C. a broad, framed view of the outside
D. differing from the norm
Picturesque means A. visually pleasing, enchanting, or unusual.
Sample Question #3 – Multiple Choice
Which phrase from the sentence best helps clarify the meaning of ostentatiously?
Sally likes to dress ostentatiously. I’ve never seen her wear a dull color.
A. likes to dress
B. Sally likes
C. dull color
D. never seen her wear
The answer is C. dull color. The phrase dull colors contrast with ostentatiously letting the reader know that ostentatiously is the opposite of dull colors.
Sample Question #4 – Multiple Choice
Read this sentence.
During the circus, the young girl chuckled when she saw the dog act, yet when the clowns came into the ring she let out a large chortle.
Select the best synonym for chortle as it is used in the sentence?
Chortle means to give or express a loud bark of laughter. The best synonym is B. cackle which is also a loud laughing sound.
Free Context Clues Activities
This activity introduces students to using contrasting context clues. This mini-lesson is a vocabulary-building exercise for upper elementary and middle school students.
In this lesson, students watch the video. The video goes over the definition of contrasting context clues and two examples. Next, students pause the video to complete either the digital or printable organizer. After completing the organizer, students continue watching the video to check their responses. This mini activity is an excellent introduction to a context clues lesson.
Assign these activities through Google Classroom for distance or classroom learning.
Want to Dig Deeper?
Select an interesting passage from a novel. Delete keywords. Have students read the passage and add words that work with the context of the sentences. Next, compare the original passage to the student’s answers. Discuss why some words work and others don’t.
Activity#2 – Free Activities from Book Units Teacher
- You can find more context clues practice exercises on my website. Some of these exercises use words from novels, but you don’t need to read the books to do the activities.
To get the links for these activities, download the handout.
- Three board games based on the novel Walk Two Moons contain twelve cloze sentences each for students to find the missing words. Students use context clues to determine which word from the word bank goes in the sentence.
- Bump is a fun game where you bump your opponent off the board by answering questions correctly. These games help students practice context clues using sentences from the novels The One and Only Bob and Al Capone Does My Shirts. Playing Bump is a fun way for students to practice. You can play the games online or print them out.
- In this lesson activity, students use context clues to determine the meanings of mythological, biblical, literary, and historical allusions. This lesson is a free sample from my Vocabulary Digital + Printable Interactive Video Lessons & Organizers on TPT.