Vocabulary Strategies Bundle: Context Clues & Vocabulary Graphic Organizers

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According to research on vocabulary, we should be teaching BOTH direct vocabulary and vocabulary strategies. When students are reading, they will come across many unknown words. Why not jump on the opportunity for them to increase not only their vocabulary, but strengthen their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills too? Vocabulary Strategies Detective Training Academy is just what you need to help students gain some life long skills of being able to determine the meaning of vocabulary words in a text through an assortment of vocabulary strategies (24 strategies all together). These vocabulary strategies will help them to develop the skills needed to crack the code to vocabulary words they come across while they read throughout the year.

Nuts & Bolts of It:

This unit teaches vocabulary strategies such as various context clues in depth and more, so students can have the skills to determine the meaning of those words as they read. It is not meant to replace direct vocabulary instruction, where you target specific words from a book. Keep doing that, but instead, this focuses on vocabulary strategies. Students will build their vocabulary through applying the strategies as they read. It is a complement to your guided reading, small groups, or reading workshop. You would basically reinforce them like word decoding strategies. Students then apply the strategies on their own during independent reading (includes tools to keep them focused and on task). I recommend you initially introduce each vocabulary strategy during whole group instruction with the mini-lessons included, then you can review them in small groups to differentiate instruction with them.

Background Story:

This resource started when I thought about how I would like to have some graphic organizers for vocabulary during independent reading because I wanted the option for a student to select their own books (another thing research says students should be doing) and the ability to glean vocabulary words from those books. I broke out the professional development resources and got to work. This resource has taken me months to complete because I wanted to craft it with care. Each vocabulary strategy has been very carefully worded and revised many times over to get it just right. Despite all the hours of work, this has been my favorite resource to create by far. I also feel this unit serves a bigger purpose because so many students and adults are lacking these skills. I had a lot of fun with it, and I hope that translates to higher student engagement and ultimately impacts students to become better readers.

How It Works:

•First, you set the stage with engagement.

•Second, you have students put together their Top Secret Briefcases to keep them organized with the strategy cards and student trackers.

•Third, you teach the strategies. I have included anchor charts that can be projected as a pdf or printed on card stock. You have a lesson overview and mini-lesson for each strategy. These mini-lessons include guided questions and a script. You can always use it as a reference if scripts are not your thing. It also includes a guided model sentence. With the guided model sentence, you do a think aloud to model using the vocabulary strategy. That is worded for you. ;) Then there is a student application sentence for them to practice as you guide them with questions. Also, I included at least two other student application sentences on the overview page that you can use with the mini-lesson or for reteaching. Additionally, I included an option where you can project the guided models and student applications on the board from the pdf. If you don't have a projector, you can always write these on the board with a dry erase marker.

•Fourth, you have students work on the strategies. This is where things can be differentiated. There are student strategy cards, which are mini-cards of the vocabulary strategy posters. Students can keep them handy when they are reading by themselves. You have a choice between no-prep graphic organizers (aka case files), diy journals, and regular journals that go with each vocabulary strategy. (Note: The journals may not flap, but they are interactive in nature because students will be revisiting and interacting with the journals, so really these can be considered interactive notebooks). The case files and journals will keep them accountable during independent reading. You can always have them fill them out after they read (sticky tabs can be used to mark the pages).

•Then you track students as they move from strategy to strategy. Once they complete the training course, they have a LOT of fun rewards waiting for them. They get to craft a detective hat, magnifying glass, funny disguise glasses, and a detective badge. There are also certificates that proclaim them as certified Official Vocabulary Detectives.

•Finally, after students become vocabulary detectives, you will want to encourage them to continue to apply the strategies as they read for life. I included some extra extensions, and students can always refill out one of the previous graphic organizers/ journal entries.

This bundle is all about making students skilled readers for life.


•Teacher Notes and Step-by-Step Instructions

•Set the Stage to Engage with the Fun Student Introduction to the Unit

•Top Secret Briefcase Craft

•24 Vocabulary Strategies Anchor Charts

•Vocabulary Strategy Cards for Students (Choice of Color or Black & White)

•Lesson Overviews & Mini-Lessons

•Projectable Guided Models & Student Application Sentences (These are also in the mini-lessons and located on the overview page, so you can always write them on the board instead.)

•Prompts for Guiding Students (Great for guided reading & coaching students as they read to you)

•24+ No Prep Graphic Organizers (Store in Top Secret Briefcases or add the cover for a diy journal. I included options with many of these.)

•24+ Interactive Notebook/ Journal Pages (No flaps, but students will be interacting with their journals. Several extra options for some of the pages.)

•Teacher trackers & Student Trackers to Keep Track of Progress with the Vocabulary Strategies

•Teacher & Student Rubrics

•Fun, Detective Crafts to Serve as a Reward


•Vocabulary Extension Activities

What is Covered with the Strategies? All of the strategies have a FUN, Catchy Case Name. I am just going to explain the concepts that are covered here.

️️•Stopping to Look at Unknown Words

•️️Asking Questions about Unknown Words

•️️Using Prior Knowledge

️️•Using Picture Clues

•️️Context Clues (This is taught as an overview and broken down into many separate strategies such as reading on for more clues, examples, antonyms, etc.)



️️•Text Features

️️•Using a Dictionary

️️•Using a Glossary

️️•Using Online Resources

️️•When It is OK to Ask for Help

️️•Reusing Vocabulary Words

️️•Looking out for Vocabulary Words in Other Books

Make sure to review the preview for a closer look!


*This unit spans from first grade to third grade. You may not find all the strategies usable for your grade level. In my professional opinion, twenty strategies work for first grade. All 24 strategies can be used for second grade. Twenty-two of the strategies work for second grade. Of course, you can do things differently. No matter what, you got tools to differentiate if needed. Third grade, please note, it does not cover figurative language at this time.

*I included a lot of options in here. I included tips to make printing those options easier for you. Got you covered. ;)

*The essence of this unit is to use it as part of guided reading and/or student conferences and independent reading. Mini-lesson can be taught through whole instruction though.

*I call it an academy for fun. They become certified vocabulary detectives for fun. It's not a real academy and certification. I know most of you realize this, but you know how things are these days. Had to put a disclosure for that. ;)

Extra Materials Needed:

•You will need brown clasp envelopes for the Top Secret Briefcases.

•Card Stock

•Optional: Clear Plastic Wrap for Magnifying Glass

•Optional: If doing the journals in a notebook/ interactive notebook, you will need a notebook for each student.

•Optional: If doing the DIY journal, you will either need to have access to a stapler that can staple 24 pages, a binding machine, pocket folders, or you can whole punch and tie with strings.


This resource for vocabulary strategies is for personal use only and one license is a single user license for one teacher. I give glory to God for the inspiration and creativity that went into creating this unit.

Thank you for stopping by The Candy Class!


Total Pages
344 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal precise actions, emotions, or states of being (e.g., quizzed, whined, stammered) and that are basic to a particular topic (e.g., wildlife, conservation, and endangered when discussing animal preservation).
Demonstrate understanding of words by relating them to their opposites (antonyms) and to words with similar but not identical meanings (synonyms).
Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.


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