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Herman Neosho Rubicon
School District

Strategies That Encourage Your Reader to Solve Unknown Words Independently

Tools to Solve an Unknown Word:

Encourage your reader to try more than 1 strategy. Different strategies work for a variety of words.


  1. Use the picture for a clue to an unknown word. The bat can fly. (The reader sees a picture of a bat. The word "bat" fits in the sentence.)
  2. Look for a word chunk, or a smaller word hidden inside the unknown word, as in the word "handle."
  3. Stretch it out! (commonly known as, sound it out!) Say each letter sound. b-a-t = bat
  4. Skip it, read on.  What word would make sense? "Bats eat bugs. Bats have wings. Bats can fly." (The reader would skip the unknown word "wings" and read on to "Bats can fly." By using the information in the text, the reader would solve the word "wings," considering that bats fly, using their wings.)
  5. Does it look right? Does it sound right? Does it make sense? These three questions are important to consider, after a reader has attempted to solve an unknown word. Does it look right? The letters and sounds that the reader says match up to the word printed in the text. Does it sound right? The word represented by the reader sounds like a word found in books.
         Does it make sense?  The word makes sense in the text.