Context Clues Lesson Plan - A Fun Way to Engage With Students

Context Clues Lesson Plan - A Fun Way to Engage With Students
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Tired of the same boring context clues activities? I’ve got good news. Teaching context clues can be fun with this context clues lesson plan. Skeptical? I dare you to try this activity.


In groups of four, students write down definitions, but there’s a catch! They’re not allowed to use dictionaries, glossaries, or any other reference. They’re only allowed to use each other and the literary work in which the word appears. They must use context clues. Each team compares definitions. The team with the highest point total at the end wins the game, the A+, and becomes the kings and queens of context clues. [caption id=“attachment_130613” align=“aligncenter” width=“640”]


  • Students will determine word meanings using context clues.
  • Students will differentiate shades of word meanings.
  • Students will evaluate word meanings in context.
  • Students will communicate as a team.
  • Students will defend their answers using reason and logic.
  • Students will incorporate new vocabulary in correctly written sentences.


  • List 8-12 words on the board. Next to the word, in parentheses, write the page number, paragraph number, column number, or any other designation that will help students find the word in context. For example: mortgage (section 1, paragraph 2, line 3).
  • When class begins, instruct students to copy words from the board with parenthetical information.
  • Assign students in groups of four. Make sure they move their desks together and are facing each other.
  • Explain the following rules: Each group must determine the meaning of each word based on how it is used in context. The parenthetical information helps students locate the word. Students may not use any source other than the page numbers in parentheses and their teammates.
  • As students eagerly define words, make a grid on the board: words listed on the side, team names listed across the top.
  • Begin the contest when sufficient time has passed. This is the challenge part of the context clue challenge.
  • Ask group 1 for their definition on word 1. Write it in the corresponding grid space.
  • Ask group 2 if they agree or disagree with group 1’s definition. If they agree, write ‘A’. If they disagree, write ‘D’. Continue until all groups have either agreed or disagreed.
  • Go over the definition. If group 1’s definition is correct, they get 2 points and everybody who agreed with them gets 1 point. If group 1’s definition is incorrect, everybody who disagreed with them gets 1 point.
  • Continue the game with group 2 going first, then group 3, then group 4, etc.


  • Have groups that disagree provide their own definition.
  • Have students copy down the correct definition and create sentences using the word correctly.
  • Base the grade on what place each group finished in.
  • Have student write their answers on individual group white boards to reduce noise.
  • Adapt it to your classroom, strengths, and students as you see fit.
  • Have fun!

Find a standards based language arts curriculum map with links to a semester’s worth of lesson plans, handouts, and powerpoints on Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This post is part of the series: Challenge Students

These “challenge” lesson plans motivate and excite. I challenge you to try them out.

  1. Lesson Plan: Context Clues Challenge
  2. Lesson Plans: Reading Challenge
  3. Lesson Plan: Paragraph Challenge
  4. Using White Boards: Fun Ideas for Reading and Language Arts
  5. Games to Reinforce Vocabulary Words: Unique Ideas