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Context Clues Vocabulary Review Game

Frequent readers of my blog know that I value context clues instruction and practice to enable students to problem-solve the meanings of unknown words and to increase their vocabularies. Readers also understand my view that over-reliance on context clues for word attack (pronunciation) can hamstring developmental readers. This being said, by way of introduction, here is a great game that reinforces practice in applying the five main context clue strategies and while refining and reviewing vocabulary. Great review for upcoming vocabulary tests! Want more vocabulary review games? But wait; there’s still more?

For individual sound-spelling worksheets that correspond with the comprehensive TSV Spelling Assessmentspelling rules with memorable raps and songs on CD, spelling tests, Greek and Latin affixes/roots worksheets, syllable practice, spelling gamesvocabulary games, and more to differentiate spelling and vocabulary instruction, please check out Teaching Spelling and Vocabulary.

S.A.L.E.S. Clues Pictionary®

Directions: Divide students into small groups (four or five works well) and have each group select an illustrator, who is assigned the first word to guess. Use the following words to teach the game; then add on your own vocabulary words thereafter. Announce the first SALES category to the class; then say “Draw!” to begin. Using picture clues that fit each SALES category, the illustrator quietly draws out clues until one of the group members guesses the word(s). The illustrator may not use hand motions, mouthing, or letters (except for the syllables category). The correct guesser becomes the new illustrator. The group that first correctly guesses all words within the category is the winner.

Hints: Group members should whisper to prevent other groups from hearing their guesses. Feel free to “give the answer” to a group that is stuck. Suggest that illustrators may wish to draw blanks before or after their word part clues in the syllables category, e.g. ___cycle for bicycle. Probably one category per day is plenty.

S.A.L.E.S. Context Clues Category and Pictionary® Words

Syllables

re (again)

pre (before)

vis (to see)

struct (to build)

er (one who)

Antonyms

desert

dark (darkness)

comedy (comedian, comic)

baby

life

Logic

box

429

language

pyramids

snow

Examples

Santa Claus

Disneyland (Disneyworld)

music

red

water

Synonyms

movie

painting

wood

pair

happy (happiness)

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How to Improve Your Vocabulary

Memorizing the definitions of the most common Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes will exponentially expand your reading vocabulary. Academic reading, especially in the social sciences and natural sciences are filled with words with Greek and Latin word parts. The verbal section of the SAT I is largely comprised of academic words having these word parts. Knowing even one word part of an unknown word greatly enhances the reader’s ability to accurately and efficiently use surrounding context clues to figure out the meanings of these words. You will also increase your spoken and written proficiency by using Greek and Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes. But, outside of becoming fluent in Greek and Latin, which Greek and Latin word parts have the highest frequency?

Most Commonly-Used Prefixes

This list, compiled by White, Sowell, and Yanagihara (The Reading Teacher, 42, p. 306), has the twenty most frequently-used prefixes. In fact these largely Greek and Latin prefixes make up 97% of all prefixed words. Prefixes listed are in frequency order.

 

1. un-not

2. re-again

3. in, im, il, ir-not

4. dis-away from

5. en, em-in

6. non-not

7. in, im-in

8. over-above

9. mis-not

10. sub-under

11. pre-before

12. inter-between

13. fore-in front

14.de-apart from

15. trans-across

16. super-above

17. semi-half

18. anti-against

19. mid-middle

20. under-too little

Frequently-Used Greek and Latin Roots

Following are the roots, meanings, origins, and example words. The roots are not in order of frequency.

1. struct-build, form-Latin-instruct

2. aud-hear-Latin-auditorium

3. mis-send-Latin-mission

4. astro-star-Greek-astrology

5. ped-foot-Latin-pedal

6. bio-life-Greek-biology

7. phon-sound-Greek-telephone

8. dict-say-Latin-predict

9. port-carry-Latin-import

10. geo-earth-Greek-geography

11. scrib-write-Latin-scribble

12. meter-measure-Greek-thermometer

13. scrip-write-Latin-scripture

14. min-little-small-Latin-minimum

15. spect-see-Latin-inspect

16. mit-send-Latin-transmit

Adapted from Stahl, S.A. and Shiel, T.G., Reading and Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Disabilities, 8, 223-241

Fifteen Power Greek and Latin Words

These fifteen words have prefixes or roots that are part of over 15,000 words. That is as many words as most student dictionaries! Memorize these words and the meanings of their prefixes and roots and you have significantly improved your vocabulary.

1. inaudible (not, hear)

2. dismiss (away from, send)

3. transport (across, carry)

4. unsubscribe (not, under, write)

5. predict (before, say)

6. remit (again, send)

7. encounter (in, against)

8. offer(against, carry)

9. inspect (in, see)

10. epilogue (upon, word)

11. antigen (against, people)

12. empathy (in, feeling)

13. intermediate (between, middle)

14. destruction(apart from, build)

15. superimpose (over, in, put)

Find 35 remedial and 32 advanced spelling-vocabulary worksheets, spelling word lists/tests,  Greek and Latin affixes/rootssyllable practice, and spelling-vocabulary games, spelling rules with memorable raps and songs on CD, a comprehensive whole-class diagnostic spelling assessment, enabling 4th–12th grade teachers to differentiate instruction and more in Mark’s book, Teaching Spelling and Vocabulary.

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