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This is a well-developed introduction to using context clues


Language Arts  


3, 4, 5  

Title – Using Context Clues: an Introduction
By – Heather C.
Primary Subject – Language Arts
Grade Level – 3-5

Concept / Topic To Teach:

    Context Clues

Standards Addressed:

    South Carolina 4th Grade Standards: 4-3.1, 4-1.8

General Goal(s):

    The teacher will introduce the concept of using context clues to the students.

Specific Objectives:

    The student will identify missing words from sentences using “context clues.” The student will define unknown words using context clues in a cold passage. The student will find and define unknown words in trade books using context clues.

Required Materials:

  • “Figure It Out” (see procedures)
  • sentences on transparency
  • Promethean board
  • flipchart, or PowerPoint
  • Susie’s Puppy (see procedures) printed on paper (one for each student)
  • pencils
  • trade books
  • paper

Anticipatory Set (Lead-In):

    Today we are going to play a game and try to figure out missing words in sentences. You will have to use your creative juices to figure out which words are covered.

Step-By-Step Procedures:

  1. The teacher will tell the students that they are going to play a game called “Figure It Out”
  2. Using a transparency, PowerPoint, or flipchart (Promethean Board), the teacher will display the following sentences, one at a time, with the word in all caps covered up:
    1. The dog ran to fetch the STICK.
    2. I thought that the camp food would be gross, but actually I found it to be quite DELICIOUS.
    3. “Come to the kitchen at ONCE,” his mother shouted.
    4. It was so cold outside that I put on my coat, HAT, and gloves.
    5. Look how TINY that cat is! I think that is the smallest cat I’ve ever seen!
    6. The crowd CHEERED as their favorite team entered the football field.
  3. The teacher will read the sentence aloud, saying “blank” when he/she comes to the covered word.
  4. The teacher will have the students think about the sentence they are reading and decide what word will go best in the blank.
  5. The teacher will call on students to share the word they came up with the class.
  6. The teacher will reveal the covered word with the students.
  7. The teacher will ask the students how they came up with the answers they came up with.
  8. Once the class has completed all of the sentences, the teacher will reveal that they used context clues to find the answers to the blanks.
  9. The teacher will define context clues as “words or sentences around unknown words that help us decide what the unknown word means.”
  10. The student will brainstorm times when they would need to use context clues.

Plan For Independent Practice:

  1. The teacher will have the students read the following paragraph (printed on paper) and decide what the “unknown words” mean by using context clues from the story.



“Susie’s Puppy”

      Unknown words:

desired, determined, arrived, elated

      Susie had always


      to have a puppy. She had wanted a puppy since she was two years old! One day, her father told her that he would buy her a new puppy if she completed all of her chores for the week. Susie was


      to get her new puppy. She was willing to do anything, even clean her brother’s bedroom, so that she could get that puppy. Susie cleaned her bedroom and the bathroom. She dusted and vacuumed her entire house. She washed the dishes, swept the kitchen, and cleaned the table. When Susie was finished with her chores, she waited patiently for her father to come home. When he


      , he saw how clean the house was, and told Susie how proud of her he was. Susie was


    when her father took her to buy a new puppy the next morning. She was so happy that she could not keep still the entire time she was in the car. She picked out the cutest puppy she had ever seen!



  1. On the back of their papers, the students will define each of the unknown words using their context clues.
  2. The students will then begin 30 minutes of independent reading. The teacher will provide a piece of paper for the students to record any unknown words they find in their trade books that they had to use context clues to figure out. They will also write down what they think the words means based on the context clues.
  3. The teacher will compile all of the words the students write down onto a “Context Clue” poster to display in the room.






    The students will orally tell a partner the definitions of context clues. The students will orally tell a partner how they can use context clues.

Assessment Based On Objectives:

    Student definitions of unknown words in “Susie’s Puppy” (formal), words students find in trade books and student definitions of these words(informal)

Adaptations :

    Students may be paired heterogeneously with a partner to complete the cold passage “Susie’s Puppy.” The teacher may read the passage “Susie’s Puppy” aloud with the students.

Possible Connections To Other Subjects:

    Students may use their context clues to define vocabulary words in science and social students textbooks.

E-Mail Heather C. !

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