Vocabulary in Context 2nd Grade Unit

This is a four-lesson unit on Vocabulary in Context, designed for second grade.  The lesson topics are: prefixes, context clues, glossary, and dictionary.  Lessons 2 and 3 utilize the nonfiction text The Life Cycle of an Emperor Penguin, by Bobbie Kalman.  Lesson 4 relies on the fiction book The Mitten, by Jan Brett. Within this unit you can teach specific vocabulary strategies (prefixes, context clues, using glossaries and dictionaries), focus on an informational text feature (glossary), and reinforce grade-level science content (life cycles). In order to access some lesson materials you will need to register with this site, but registration is free.

Standards & Objectives

Learning objectives: 

Learning Goal:

  • Use the meaning of prefixes in unknown words to determine their meaning.
  • Use the sentences before and after an unknown word to determine its meaning.
  • Use a glossary to determine the meaning of an unknown word.
  • Use a dictionary to find the meaning of unknown words in a text.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Differentiation suggestions: 

Different Tips:

  • Provide visuals of prefixes that explain their meaning. For example, provide a picture of a happy face with the word “happy” and a picture of a sad face with the word “unhappy”.
  • Create a visual of three examples of using sentences around an unknown word to determine its meaning. The first example can be a sentence that includes the word’s definition. The second example can be a sentence with an appositive. The third example can give the reader information, but require the reader to draw a conclusion about the meaning of the word. All three examples are provided in the text Emperor Penguin by Bobbie Kalman.
  • Clarify for students why some words are not in the glossary. For example, if the author explained the word in the sentences surrounding the word, then he chose not to put the word in the glossary.
  • Provide students with a copy of the glossary in the book so that they can use it as a reference.
  • Create guidelines for students to refer to when choosing the most appropriate dictionary definition for given words. For example: Make sure you found and read all the entries for the word. Choose the dictionary meaning that best matches the part of speech and context in which the word is used. Reread the sentence in the text and decide if the definition makes sense in context.

Helpful Hints

Necessary Materials


  • Example Chart for Direct Teaching
  • Guided Practice for Lesson 1
  • Independent Practice Worksheet

Not Provided: 

  • chart paper
  • markers 
  • The Life Cycle of an Emperor Penguin by Bobbie Kalman 
  • The Mitten by Jan Brett
  • dictionary