Context clues has always been something that I’ve needed to spiral throughout the entire year with my third graders, so finding fun and engaging activities has been a huge priority. I figure a lot of you are in the same boat so I’ve decided to share some of my best go-to ideas with you.
Interactive Anchor Chart
If you’re like me, you use anchor charts for everything. I’ve even used an anchor chart for how to behave in the bathroom, but that’s a different story for another time. So, as with everything else, my context clues instruction has always started with an anchor chart. I’ve learned a few things over the years about how to make effective anchor charts and prevent them from just becoming wall decorations. The most important of which were to make them with the kids instead of ahead of time and to make them interactive.
One of my favorite ways to do this is to have the kids make their own anchor charts in their reading interactive notebooks. I give them a framework and they add to it with me. (Examples below) This helps them focus on the important parts of the concept and gives them a personal reference to look back on when they need a refresher. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated or cutesy. All you need to do is think about the most important things you want them to remember about using context clues and work around that.
Make your large context clues anchor chart interactive by leaving pieces of it blank for the students to fill in with their work during stations or reading workshop. Pro-tip: Have the kids use post-it notes if you’re departmentalized to save the anchor chart for the next class(es).
Everything is more fun when it’s turned into a game. Seriously, what kid doesn’t jump at the chance to play a game during class? Games are great for targeting specific concepts such as homophones, prefixes & suffixes, etc. You can also use them to spiral context clues practice throughout the entire year! The kids really love when the context clues station games are changed up for seasons and holidays. It just adds a little festive feeling to stations.
New games not in the budget? No problem! Did you know you can turn regular board games like Jenga, Connect 4, and Candy Land into context clues games just by adding task cards? The rules to the game stay the same with one minor modification: the students must complete a task card before taking a turn. Yep, it’s that simple. And the kids will love it!
I figure if I don’t want to sit at a desk and work all day, there’s no way kids want to either. Getting them up and moving around the room to practice context clues with a scoot activity is way more fun and engaging. It’s also super quick and easy to set up. Just post context clues task cards around the room or in the hallway, pass out some recording sheets, and set your expectations for how you want your students to move from card to card.
I just learned about BOOM Cards this year and I am so unbelievably excited about them. They are basically digital task cards with loads of amazing features that are perfect for iPads and SmartBoards. First of all, they are interactive and self-checking. Who doesn’t love that? One of my favorite things about them is that they can be created with audio built in, which really helps with differentiation. Watch the short clip I recorded from my desktop of my Valentine’s Day Context Clues BOOM Cards to see how easy it is for a student to get oral administration of the question and answer choices. It’s so helpful when you have students who need accommodations to be successful with grade level material! ** Not all BOOM Card decks are created equally though. Look for information about the features of the deck in the description before buying it. They won’t all come with audio.
Want to learn more about BOOM Learning? Their YouTube videos are full of super helpful information!
Frequent independent reading of rich and varied texts is a HUGE component in an effective vocabulary program. This is where it all comes together, really. Students use the context clues strategies you taught them as they encounter new words in their own reading lives. We can promote an appreciation for these new words by helping the students create personal collections of their favorite new words. Donovan’s Word Jar by Monalisa DeGross is a great mentor text to help you get the conversation about the power of words started with your students.
These FREE word jars for interactive notebooks give students a fun place to store their newly acquired vocabulary words and can even help them incorporate them into their writing. They can also be used in a vocabulary station or as a whole class collection.