Teaching Strategy

Guess the Covered Word

Word Work
Grade Level


Guess the Covered Word challenges students’ vocabularies and reading comprehension by requiring them to deduce words redacted from a text.


During and after reading


Guess the Covered Word teaches students to use visual clues (word length, beginning consonants) and context to figure out unfamiliar words. This strategy helps students solve problems and self-correct independently while reading.


  1. Choose your vocabulary words.
  2. Select a sentence or a paragraph from the central text that includes one of your vocabulary words.
  3. Choose one word per sentence that begins with a consonant. Cover the word with two torn sticky notes, the first covering the beginning consonant letter(s) up to the first vowel, and the second covering the remainder of the word.
  4. Tell students that good readers use words they do understand to figure out words they don’t understand.
  5. Read the text with students. Re-read if necessary.
  6. Read each sentence. Without revealing any letters, have students guess the missing word using the context of the surrounding sentence. Record the guesses in a location visible to the group.
  7. Remove the sticky note that covers the beginning consonant(s).
  8. Eliminate any guesses that do not begin with the revealed beginning consonant. Have student make additional guesses.
  9. After students cannot think of any more words that meet the criteria, reveal the rest of the word and see if the correct word was guessed.2
  10. Debrief with students. Make certain students understand the meaning of the word within the context of the text. Emphasize problem-solving skills and contextual clues that led to strong or correct guesses.

English language learners

Guess the Covered Word emphasizes the importance of context clues. Understanding context clues helps English language learners build the schema they will ultimately need to comprehend texts independently.

Connection to anti-bias education

Guess the Covered Word creates an inclusive and equitable classroom by personalizing word learning and encouraging students to express themselves freely and creatively to solve problems as a group. Students also learn awareness of social, political and historical context, which is essential in anti-bias education.

Sample Guess The Covered Word