Don't Be a Word Victim: Using Context Clues Effectively


Hello darlings!  In third grade my kiddos already know word attack strategies such as chunking and stretching out the word.  Chunky Monkey and Stretchy Snake come to mind among others.  But I tell my kiddos that now that they are in third grade, we aren't just learning to read, we are READING TO LEARN!

Of course I have kiddos reading at all different levels and bands of text, but I still teach them all these Context Clues strategies!  It is great that we know how to SAY unknown words, but what happens when we start getting into harder vocabulary that we can pronounce, but we don't know what it means?

This is where CONTEXT CLUES come in!  Elaine Vazquez created a video for her middle school students which I find to be PERFECT to introduce this concept!

She tells students not to be a word victim with the most common mistakes- skipping the word, mumbling the word and moving on (which my kiddos LOVE to do), and asking for help.  Instead she tells them to be WORD NINJAS!  Love it Elaine!

For my lesson, I showed kiddos this video until 7:01 where she begins to talk about prefixes, suffixes, and roots which was a little advanced for my third graders!


After the video, I used the FREE printables I created to make an anchor chart and solve unknown words with my students.  I had already read them the book You Wouldn’t Want to Explore with Lewis and Clark!  so I pulled some sentences from there and we went through each type of Context Clue.


Definition:  I call this an Author's Whisper because the author will come right out and say what the word means like he or she is whispering to you.  This is often found with the word and definition separated by commas , the word "or", and often parenthesis are used to surround the definition. (common in Nonfiction)

Example:  This is another Author's Whisper.  This is often used with key words such as "such as" (see what I did there? LOL!) or "like..."  The examples will often be in the same sentence (common in Nonfiction)

Synonym:  This is when an idea is repeated or said in a different way that means the same thing as the unknown word.

Antonym:  This is when the word means the opposite of the ideas expressed.  Key words such as "but.." "however..." "in contrast..." "although.." "or..."

Inference:  I tell my kiddos that this is the strategy they will use the most in Fiction text.  They have to figure out the :gist" of the paragraph or sentences around the word.


I hope this is helpful for you and your students!  You can grab the FREEBIE here!

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