Context Clues are one of my favorite strategies to teach in reading.  Why you might ask?  Because my students become detectives in their reading and look for clues to find out the meaning.  This strategy is especially important because when they take those standardized tests they need to be able to identify those unknown vocabulary.  I've attached a video from BrainPop above that I show in the classroom to help introduce the topic.  So, here's 5 ways I teach them to identify unknown words using context clues.  

1.   Make an Inference
     This is HUGE!!!  By now my students have learned how to make an inference. So, we play a telephone game where I have students act like they are about to order a pizza or make an appointment to a hair stylist without actually saying they are doing that.  This allows them to make an inference on what is being said on the phone.  This is great practice when we are reading words in context.  If the passage says "We were huddled up together under a warm blanket during the snow storm."  My hope is that the students could make an inference that the word huddled meant "together" based on the clues of snow storm, under a blanket, and warm.   

2.  Look for the Definition in the passage
     Teach those readers to look for the definition right in the sentences around the unknown word.  Sometimes they don't even realize the meaning is right there in the passage.  Tell the to look for key words such as like and the word or.  For example: The boy grasped, or held , the baseball.  We often spend time reading a passage and then highlighting the definition to practice this skill.  

3.  Find a synonym:
      This strategy is where we look for phrases that have the word "or" in them.  For example :  He was joyous , or happy, when he saw his grandmother.  We highlight the words joyous and happy to identify the synonym.  

4.  It provides an example: 
     This strategy makes us really think because we have to decide if the example is giving us clues or leading us to the definition.  An example of this would be "A group of vulnerable newborn puppies, like newborn kittens who need extra support, were found near the highway.  The part of the sentence that reads like the newborn kittens who need extra support should signal us that vulnerable means something or someone who needs help.  

5.  Find an antonym:  
    For this strategy we look for words that say unlike, opposed to, or different from when reading through passages with unknown words.  

In order for us to remember all of this we do add all of this information into our interactive notebooks (don't you just love those)  Grab it here:

Now, if you are looking for a fun culminating activity to use with your lesson on context clues this activity will not disappoint. 

This was SNOW much fun!!!  Sorry couldn't resist.  :)  Whether or not it is snowing outside it will be in our classroom when we play a little context clue game .  My students absolutely LOVED this game we played to finish up our unit on context clues.  Who doesn't love a snowball fight especially in the classroom?  


    This game was really easy to set up and can be used over and over again.  I divided the class into two teams and then had one student as my official task card reader. After reading the task cards students take their snowballs and throw them towards the board to see if they get the correct answer.  If they hit the same snowball and it is a tie then they go to take a turn towards snowball challenge board.  Whoever hits the highest number their gets the point.  Play continues until all the task cards are read.  
My students loved this game and I hope yours will too!  If you like what you see you can grab it here.

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