Teaching Context Clues in the Elementary Classroom


Teaching context clues is a great way to help your students improve their reading comprehension skills. When students are able to identify and use context clues, they are better able to understand the text they are reading. Here are three engaging activities that you can use to teach context clues in your elementary classroom.

The best part is, these activities are extremely low prep and you already have all the materials you need in your classroom!

Context Clues Guess the Word

One fun way to teach context clues is to play a clue-filled guessing game. This game can be played with the whole class or in small groups. Write a word on a small dry erase board, then put the board face down on the table. One student lifts the board to show the word to their teammates. The teammates have to give clues to help the student guess the word that’s written on the board. You can use any words for this activity. Consider using past and present vocabulary words for a great review! From this game, students will learn the importance of looking for clues in a text to help them understand an unfamiliar word.

Imaginary Words

For this activity, students will guess the meaning of a made up word using only their context clues skills to help them. You can grab this activity for free at the top of the page! To start, you’ll need to write a normal sentence with normal words (tough, right?!) Then, replace one word in the sentence with a nonexistent word. Here’s an example: I like to build flibbamajobs at the beach using pails, shovels and sand! The students will use the context clues: beach, pails, shovels, sand to figure out that my imaginary word means sandcastles! You can practice this a few times so they get the hang of it, then send them off to come up with their own examples. Have students roam the room to figure out each other’s imaginary word using the recording sheet!

Word Sort

Another way to help your students learn how to use context clues is to have them sort words into groups. Give each student a list of words and have them sort the words into groups based on meaning. For example, they could sort words that are related to animals, food, school, etc. Once they have sorted the words into groups, have them explain why they grouped the words together. This activity will help your students see how similar words can have different meanings based on the context in which they are used.

Context Clues Color It In

This is a fun way to review and reinforce the different types of clues authors use. First, students will complete an engaging practice page. Then, they will find the matching image on that page within their coloring page, and color it in. This is an educational twist on those seek-and-find games! Students will have so much fun with this activity and they’ll get great practice with context clues while they’re at it. You can keep track of how many activities your students have completed just by peeking at their coloring page. When all 5 are completed, their page will be all colored in. Perfect for centers, or to leave with a substitute. 

Context clues are a great way to improve reading comprehension skills in elementary students. By teaching your students how to identify and use context clues, you will help them become better readers who are able to understand complex texts. Try out these engaging activities with your students today!

Teaching text structure? Take a look at the awesome nonfiction text structure activities in this blog post!

Pin the image below to save this post for later and share it with other educators!

You might also like...