EL Support Lesson

Multiple-Meaning Words

This lesson will help students understand multiple-meaning words through the use of artistic and theatrical representation! Use as a stand-alone activity or a support lesson for Let's Compare and Contrast Nonfiction Texts!
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Let's Compare and Contrast Nonfiction Text! lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
This lesson can be used as a pre-lesson for the Let's Compare and Contrast Nonfiction Text! lesson plan.

Students will be able to define multiple-meaning words to support comprehension.


Students will be able to define words with multiple meanings using illustrations and movement.

(3 minutes)
  • Write the word nail on the board. Ask students to share out what a nail is. Allow a few students to answer.
  • Show the students the nail you brought in from home. Say, "Some of you said a nail was the hard part on your finger. Other students were sure that a nail is something you use to hang pictures or create things. Some of you even said to nail can be an action word. Who is right? Can words mean more than one thing?"
  • Allow students to share their reasoning for answering yes or no.
  • Explain to the students that some words, like the word nail, have multiple-meanings. Explain that multiple-meaning words are words that have more than one meaning. Tell the students that today you will be introducing two definitions for each of the new vocabulary words, but to remember that some of the words actually have more than two definitions, depending on how people use them when they are writing or speaking.
  • Write the following learning goal on the board and read it aloud:
    • Today we will define words with multiple meanings using illustrations and movement!
  • Ask the students to choral chant the student-friendly learning goal back to you.
(10 minutes)
  • Present the Vocabulary Cards to the students and read through the student-friendly definitions.
  • Put the students into six small groups and pass out one vocabulary card to each group. Give each group two blank sheets of white paper and various coloring materials.
  • Draw an example of the blank vocabulary card on the board. Write the word nail on the top of your example vocabulary card on the whiteboard. Next, write the following student-friendly definitions on the bottom of the example vocabulary card on the whiteboard:
    • (noun) A nail is the hard part of your finger.
    • (verb) To nail something means to pound a nail with a tool.
  • Sketch two illustrations to connect with each definition.
  • Explain to students that they will decide what pictures to draw as a group, depending on their word's definitions. Tell the students that first they will draw small sketches on their vocabulary card and then draw two larger pictures that illustrate their definitions. Reiterate that they do not have to write the definitions on their larger pictures.
  • Allow students time to create their illustrations and rotate around the room, providing assistance as needed.
(10 minutes)
  • Allow students to share their illustrations and definitions with the class.
  • Tell students that next they will be creating two sentences to illustrate each definition on their vocabulary card. Write two sentences for the word nail on the whiteboard. Refer to the definitions on the example vocabulary card as you write your sentence to clarify accuracy.
  • Provide each small group of students with whiteboards and whiteboard markers. Allow the students time to create their sentences.
  • Have each group share their sentences aloud.
(10 minutes)
  • Tape all of the student illustrations on the whiteboard in no particular order.
  • Explain that now each group will briefly come up with a short skit, acting out one of the meanings of their multiple-meaning word. Walk students through the activity, using the word nail. For example, pretend to paint your nails.
  • Remind the students to write their vocabulary word on the board before they act out their skit.
  • Allow students a few minutes to create their skits. Next, have the groups (or a few groups) take turns sharing their skits. After each group shares their skit, call on a student volunteer to come up to the board to find the illustration that matches the skit that the students performed.
  • Have the students share what they think the word's meaning is, using the following sentence frames:
    • Based on the skit, I think the word ____ means ____. I think this because ____.
(4 minutes)
  • Post the anchor charts around the room and conduct a carousal activity.
  • Have students rotate around the room, drawing illustrations and writing phrases and sentences to explain the two meanings they learned from each word. Have students write their name next to their examples so you can refer to their creations as a formative assessment.
  • Assess student understanding and use it to plan future lessons on multiple-meaning words.
(3 minutes)
  • Allow student volunteers to briefly share some of their favorite illustrations, phrases, and sentences from each poster.
  • Explain to students that it's important to understand that some words have multiple-meanings so we can understand what we read and understand what people are discussing during everyday conversations!

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