Use the Clues to Find the Meaning!

Contributor: Jennifer Blanchard. Lesson ID: 13921

Did you know that each book is like a scavenger hunt full of new words? The author leaves clues in the book to help readers figure out what certain words mean! Try it out for yourself in this lesson!


English / Language Arts, Reading

English / Language Arts
learning style
Auditory, Visual
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Skill Sharpener

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Start with a trivia question!

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  • Were you able to guess that correctly?

Without any clues, it can be hard to figure out what a word means.

It is a good thing that authors DO give clues to help you figure out the meaning of words they know might be tricky or difficult for readers! That is what this lesson is all about.

  • What do you do when you are reading and come across a word you don't know?
  • Do you skip over it and keep reading?

No! It is important to understand all the words in a text!

When you are reading and come across a word you don't know, there are ways to determine its meaning.

You can always stop reading and look the word up in a dictionary, but that will distract you from the text.

Sometimes, the author will tell you directly what the word means. If not, you can look for context clues to the word's meaning.

Context clues are hints you can find around the word you do not know to figure out what it means yourself.

  • How can you do that?

Here are some ways to use context clues.

  1. First, read the words around the word you do not know. Ask yourself what you think the word must mean based on those other words.
  1. If you are still unsure, read the whole sentence with the word you do not know.
  1. It is even more helpful to read the whole sentence before the one with the new word.
  1. Sometimes, you may even want to read a sentence or two after the one with the word you do not know.

For more tips on how to use different types of clues in a text, watch the video below.

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When reading, you can use context clues to understand any word you do not know.

However, two common types of words pop up while reading. Take a look at those!

  Academic Words   Domain-Specific Words
  Academic words are found in your schoolwork.   Domain-specific words are found when reading about a specific topic.

  You will come across these words while reading about any subject or topic.   You will find these words while reading about a particular subject.

  Examples:   Examples (about food):
  examine   nourishment
  develop   roux
  construct   cuisine


When you are ready to try using context clues, head over to the Got It? section!

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