teaching resource

Context Clues Task Cards

Teach Starter Publishing
Google Slide, PDF | 6 pages | Grades: 3 - 4

Use this set of 20 task cards to help students define new vocabulary words by identifying context clues within sentences.

Every day, little learners are busy exploring. 

From playing games with their peers to listening to educators, their hungry minds are taking in the world piece by piece, assessing what they need to hold onto for future reference, and throwing out whatever doesn’t stimulate them. 

When it comes to language and vocabulary development, the context clues found in surrounding words and sentences help students navigate unfamiliar text. These hints help them understand what they need to know about a word in order to use it properly. Context clues provide detailed information to help students make connections, while also developing a wider vocabulary and deeper understanding of the nuances of language.

To build your students’ reading comprehension skills, we created this set of 20 Context Clue Task Cards to turn them into language detectives! 

How to Use Our Context Clue Cards with Your Students

This activity was designed to be added to your classroom reading center. We recommend punching a hole in the corner of each task card and placing them on a binder ring. This helps to keep the cards organized and together so you never lose a card in a pocket or under a desk.

Students will read the cards one at a time. On the recording sheet provided they will create their own definitions of the underlined words on the cards using the context clues to decipher their meaning.  

Additional Activities to Clue Students in On Context Clues

Looking for other fun ways to teach context clues? Below you’ll find a few alternative ways to use these task cards in your lessons, whether your goal is to provide your students with an educational activity or to give you a formative assessment of their understanding.


Instead of providing the cards to your students, print them out and save the deck for yourself! As a whole class or small group activity, start by giving each student a recording sheet. Going in order, read the sentence out loud, omitting the underlined word. Challenge students to think of their own substitute words they would use, looking at the context clue words in the sentences. They will write their suggested words in the spaces provided on the recording sheet. When you’ve gone through all 20 cards, start at the beginning again and this time call on students to give you their suggested words and tell you which of the clue words in the sentence helped them determine their answer.  

Please note: the directions on the answer sheet provided can be deleted or edited in Google Slides before printing if you use this version of the game.

Be the Writer

We turn the game above on its head for this version. Instead, read off only the underlined word on the card and then discuss the definition of the word as a group. Then, on a separate sheet of paper students will put pencil to paper to write their own sentence using the underlined word, being sure to include 1-2 context clues into the sentence. This activity will allow you to assess each students’ understanding of the concept while letting them get in some creative writing practice of their own. 

Circle Up

To use this activity for partner work, divide your class or small group into pairs. Print off enough of the task cards as worksheets (no need to cut them out), and provide each pair with their own sheet of 6 cards. Ask students to take turns reading the cards out loud to each other and use a pencil to circle the context clue words on their cards. Then, on the recording sheet, the pairs will work together to come up with their own definition of the underlined word. This partner activity is especially helpful if you have students who need extra practice understanding context clues and are comfortable working as teams to build reading comprehension confidence. 

Preparing This Resource for Your Students

Print the task cards on cardstock for added durability and longevity. 

To print ONLY the task cards:

  1. Place 5 sheets of cardstock in your printer paper tray
  2. Select “File” from the navigation bar, and click “Print” from the drop-down menu
  3. From the dialog box that pops up, click on “More settings”
  4. Pages per sheet should be set to “1”
  5. Leave the box empty next to “Print on both sides”
  6. Click “Print using system dialog”
  7. On the pop-up, deselect “Two-Sided”
  8. Under Pages, select From and enter pages 1 to 5
  9. Click the “Print” button

Print the recording sheet on regular paper as usual:

  1. Select “File” from the navigation bar, and click “Print” from the drop-down menu
  2. From the Print dialog box that pops up, click on “More settings”
  3. Pages per sheet should be set to “1”
  4. Leave the box empty next to “Print on both sides”
  5. Click “Print using system dialog”
  6. On the pop-up, deselect “Two-Sided”
  7. Under Pages, select From and enter pages 6 to 6
  8. Click the “Print” button

As a center activity, cut out the task cards and punch a hole in the corner of each to place them on a binder ring. Print extra copies of the recording sheet and place everything in a folder or large envelope. 

Before You Download

Use the drop-down menu to choose between the PDF or Google slides version. A recording sheet is also included in the download.

This resource was created by Heather Chambers, a teacher in Texas and a Teach Starter Collaborator. 


Don’t stop there! We’ve got more context clue discovery activities we’re sure your students won’t be able to get enough of. 

Image of Context Detectives Worksheet

teaching resource

Context Detectives Worksheet

A set of 3 worksheets for students to practice using context clues to identify the meaning of a word.

Teach Starter Publishing6 pagesGrades: 2 - 5
Image of Using Context Clues - Worksheet

teaching resource

Using Context Clues - Worksheet

A worksheet to practice using context clues.

Teach Starter Publishing3 pagesGrades: 5 - 6
Image of Find Word Meaning in Context Poster

teaching resource

Find Word Meaning in Context Poster

A poster highlighting how to find word meaning in context when reading a piece of text.

Teach Starter Publishing1 pageGrades: 3 - 6


Write a review to help other teachers and parents like yourself. If you'd like to request a change to this resource, or report an error, select the corresponding tab above.

Log in to comment