Guess the Word

lower case letter b followed by a yellow sticky note

Thanks to Patricia Cunningham’s book Month-By-Month Phonics, for supplying this great activity!

Purpose:  To help students use the word decoding strategies of initial consonants, word length, and context clues when they encounter new words while reading.

Preparation Time:  15 minutes

Materials Needed:  3-5 sentences written on the board prior to the start of the class. One word in each sentence is covered with sticky notes. The first sticky note covers the first letter of the word. The second sticky note (or paper cut to length and taped to the board) covers the first vowel and all the other letters in the word. (See the attached document for a full example.)

E.g. Asha likes to eat          . Carlos likes to eat         . Paw Yee likes to eat         .


  1. Show the students the sentences. Have them read each sentence and guess the covered word while you write the guesses down on another area of the board. If a guess does not make sense in the context of the sentence, e.g. if a student guesses “school” for the above examples, don’t write the word down on the list. Explain that the guess doesn’t make sense in the context of the sentence (“Do people eat schools?”).
  2. After you have several guesses written on the board from the class, remove the sticky note covering the first letter of the covered word. Cross out all of the guesses that start with a different letter than the one that you just revealed.  Allow the students to make more guesses; only write the guesses that start with the same letter that you revealed.
  3. Uncover the rest of the word, and let the students see if the word matches their guesses.
  4. Continue with each sentence, following the same steps:
    1. Read the sentence and write three or four guesses from the class that make sense.
    2. Uncover the first letter (or letters) of the word.
    3. Have students make more guesses that make sense in the context and begin with the revealed letter. Write the guesses.
    4. Uncover the rest of the word, and see if any of the students’ guesses were correct.
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