“Gift of the Magi” and Context Clues

Purpose: Using context clues for unknown vocabulary words; expanding vocabulary; making inferences. Last day – Discussion of themes and ironies.


Context Clues

For middle school:

For High School:


Discuss the different types of context clues and work through only the first three examples on the activity and quiz worksheet. Discuss all answers.

Next, pair students up to practice with the remaining questions on the worksheet (pairs will either be assigned to complete odds or evens). After 10 minutes, students share their answers. Encourage questioning and/or respectful disagreement from the classmates as each pair shares an answer.


Using Context Clues in “The Gift of the Magi”

Explain to students they will practice using context clues with this short story.

Listen to an audio version of the story in class. Students follow along with their own copies. (Have them first number each paragraph chronologically).

Show the context clues chart on the board, and practice as a class using the first two answers provided. Students return to their pairs and are assigned two different consecutive words on the chart. After 10 minutes, have students complete the rest of the chart independently.

Formative Assessment

Choose only one entry (the same word) on each student’s chart to assess. As you assess, make a running list of common chart errors. The next day, have each student choose one word to share to the class, explaining how they arrived at that definition.


Students list and explain at least three different types of context clues.

Summative Assessment

Students will choose four words from the vocabulary list and construct four original sentences with each sentence using one of the chosen words and each sentence using one of the four context clue types. Students will label the type of context clue he or she used at the end of the sentence with the code previously identified during the Quiz & Activity. Students will write an additional sentence explaining how their sentence is an example of that context clue.


“The Gift of the Magi” Discussion

Story board, plot diagram, activities, and graphic organizers.

Vocab and study guide. More vocabulary practice.