Lesson Plan

Dive Into Context Clues

Help your students flex their vocabulary muscles with this lesson on using context clues. By deciphering the meanings of different nonsense words, young readers will greatly improve their comprehension skills.
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the I Can Use Context Clues! pre-lesson.
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Need extra help for EL students? Try the I Can Use Context Clues! pre-lesson.

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to use context clues to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words.

The adjustment to the whole group lesson is a modification to differentiate for children who are English learners.
EL adjustments


(10 minutes)
  • Tell the students that they are going to be learning a strategy for figuring out the meaning of new words.
  • Have them imagine that they are in a restaurant and reading a menu. Under the dessert section of the menu, they see the item: creamy, cold vanilla gelato.
  • Explain to the students that they may be able to easily figure out that the word "gelato" means ice cream because of a few clues: 1) it is a dessert and 2) it is described as creamy and cold.
  • Tell students this strategy is called using context clues.


  • Provide a student-friendly definition for the word "strategy" and invite students to think about strategies they use to learn and understand English.
  • Use a visual of gelato to go with the introductory activity.


  • Ask students to think about a time they went to a restaurant and didn't know a word on the menu.
  • Invite students to share about their experiences so they can make a personal connection to the introductory acitivity. Use sentence frames to support the discussion:
    • "When I went to a restaurant, I saw the word ________ on the menu."
    • "I didn't know what the word ________ meant."
    • "I used ________ as a clue to figure it out."