Context Clues

5 Kid Approved Context Clues Activities for Upper Elementary

5 Kid Approved Context Clues Activities

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.

Vocabulary and Context Clues Interactive Notebook Cultivating Critical Readers.png

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).

Station Games

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.

Halloween Homophones Game for Third Grade and Fourth Grade Reading.png

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!

Context Clues Connect 4.png

Scoot Activities

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.

BOOM Cards

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!

Word Collections

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.

Word Jar for Personal Word Collections

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.

 

You can find all of the context clues activities featured in this article here.

 

5 Kid Approved Context Clues Activities for Upper Elementary from Cultivating Critical Readers

Context Clues, Valentine's Day

5 Fun and Focused Activities for Valentine’s Day

I don’t know about you, but February always has me stressed. Pouring over benchmark scores and counting the number of weeks left before the state test has a way of doing that to me. On top of that, I am supposed to use class time for a party? Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved celebrating with my littles. However, anyone that knows me can attest to my disdain for wasted time in the classroom. That’s why I sneak in reading instruction and practice into every second of Valentine’s Day, including the party. The best part? The kids just see it all as a part of our Valentine’s Day celebration.

Here Are 5 Activities to Keep Valentine’s Day Fun and Focused:

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Valentine’s Themed BINGO

bingo

You can turn literally any BINGO game into a Valentine’s themed game by using Hershey’s Kisses or other candies as your “markers”. So, dust off that old reading strategy BINGO game you have in the cabinet and start playing. This makes for a great game during the party and has your students reviewing strategies and concepts. This Valentine’s Day Synonym and Antonym BINGO game can be purchased here.

 

Read and follow a procedural text to create a Valentine’s Day Craft!

Kids love origami and Pinterest is full of How-Tos for making Valentine’s Crafts, so you’ll have plenty of options for this. I found a procedural text for creating heart-shaped bookmarks online that I love by DIY Candy. I did need to do a bit of copying and pasting to create the format that I wanted to present to the students. Use the procedural text to gather your materials and make your own bookmarks/crafts, all the while discussing how each part of the procedural text helps you understand the procedure. The students end up with a super cute new craft and have fun reading along the way! The kids have so much fun creating their bookmarks that this could even be done as a party activity!

heart bookmark

 

Use a SCOOT Activity to Review

I am a sucker for using scoots to review! I love that it gets the kids up and moving, and they love it too! Turn this into Valentine’s Day fun by finding some cute Valentine’s themed task cards. There are plenty of moderately priced task cards on Teachers Pay Teachers. The Valentine’s Day Context Clues Task Cards pictured below can be purchased here.

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“We Love…” Writing

I love creating bulletin boards and displays with my students’ work, ideas, and creations. As a reading teacher, I go with the “We Love Books” theme. Students chose a book that they love and write about why they love it inside a heart. This can go as in-depth as you want. I like to have them include quotes, character descriptions, connections, and themes. Once they complete their writing, they are invited to add a heart background and decorations. These are then added to a display outside the classroom. The parents love seeing all the book recommendations when they come for the class Valentine’s party and it gives the kids great ideas for what to read next. This may be the easiest one to implement. All it takes is some construction paper, a pencil, and some markers/crayons. The Teacher Studio has also created a bulletin board set if you’d like to have it all ready to go for you.

we love books

 

Reader’s Theater

Reader’s theater is a great way to help students practice their reading fluency. Plus, parents love watching the performances during the party! You can write a reader’s theater script from any Valentine’s Day read aloud. One of my favorites for the younger grades is Arthur’s Valentine by Marc Brown. It’s a pretty easy one to create a script from as well.

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