Clarifying While Reading: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Johnny Lewis

I have taught elementary, junior high, and college preparation courses. Master's degrees in, Education, Psychology, and Ph.D in Applied Psychology.

There are countless words, sentences, and stories waiting to be read. But sometimes, you may not understand what you are reading and need help figuring it out. This lesson will teach you a few things you can do to understand meaning while reading.

Clarifying While Reading

When your parents drive you to school each day, they read signs along the way that tell which way to go so that you can get to school safely. Your parents are able to do so because they understand what the words on signs mean. But sometimes when reading sentences or stories, you have trouble understanding what the words mean.

If you read a story and don't understand it, you must do something to help you clarify it. ''Clarify'' means to make something clear. How can you clarify what you are reading? There are three main tips for clarifying while reading:

  1. Look at the title.
  2. Use keywords.
  3. Use other words as clues.

Let's use these rules to clarify meaning in some example stories.


In our first example, we will look at the title to clarify meaning while reading.

The Missing Cookies

''Mrs. Johnson loved to bake cookies and bakes them everyday. One day when Mrs. Johnson put her cookies on the windowsill to cool, she sat down to watch television. When Mrs. Johnson went back to the kitchen, she noticed her cookies had vanished. She looked everywhere but could not find them.''

In The Missing Cookies, we can clarify what the word vanished means by looking at the title.

When you see the word ''vanished,'' you may not know what it means right away, but if you look at the title of the story, you get a little help understanding what you are reading. Since Mrs. Johnson could not find the cookies, and the title of the story is ''The Missing Cookies,'' you can figure out that ''vanished'' means ''missing.''

Now, let's look at an example where we use keywords to clarify meaning while writing.

The Pirate's Treasure

''Pirate Jim was on his boat out in the ocean and was very happy about the treasure he found deep in the ocean below. The treasure chest was so full that it was very dense. Because the treasure was dense, Pirate Jim had to have his friend Pirate Larry help him lift it.''

In this story about a treasure chest, the chest is very dense, which means it is heavy.

When you saw the word ''dense,'' did you know what it meant? If you don't know what a word means, you can read the words behind or before it as clues to help you understand the meaning. The treasure was so ''dense'' that Pirate Jim had to get help to lift it. This lets you know that the treasure was heavy and that ''dense'' must mean heavy.

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