Since the English language has so many multiple meaning words, it is important to learn the difference in those meanings from an early age. This helps students to learn the words in context and to use them correctly throughout their life.

In this lesson on identifying new meanings for familiar words, students will discover that there are many common words that have more than one meaning. Students will also learn that the same word can be used as a noun or a verb.

Getting Started


CLIO Lesson New Meanings Learning Video (You can find this video under the Language Skills tab.)
CLIO Lesson Card, 1 for every group of three students
CLIO Lesson Knowledge Check, 1 per student
Picture of an ocean wave
New Meanings matching cards

Subscribe today and get your learning materials now!


Guided Learning


Meet students on the carpet and ask them to tell you the word that they think of when you show them a picture. Present a picture of an ocean wave to students and wait for them to say the word they are thinking of. When students agree on the word wave, post the picture on the board in front of them and write the word wave above the picture.  Next, show a picture of a hand that depicts the action of waving. Again ask for students to say the word they are thinking. Students may need additional prompting in the form of the teacher actually waving a hand to them. Once students have decided on the word wave, post the picture on the board next to the other picture and write the word wave above the picture. Post the following question to students and give them time to think and share their answers with a partner.

“What do you notice about these two words and what they mean?”

After discussing with a partner, invite students to share their thinking with the class. Guide the discussion to lead students to conclude that sometimes the same word can have more than one meaning. Explain to students that there are many words that have more than one meaning and lots of times one meaning is an action word and the other describes an object. Tell students that today we are going to be looking at multiple meaning words.

Guided Practice with CLIO Lesson’s Learning Video

Begin playing the CLIO Lesson Learning Video. After the learning target is displayed, hold a brief discussion about what that sentence means. Ask students to turn to a partner and use their own words to describe the learning target. Ask students if any of them have a dog or have ever had a dog before. After students give their personal experiences, tell students that we will be hanging out with a dog named “Niko” to learn about words with multiple meanings. Use Niko, the dog to encourage student engagement as you go through the video.

Prior to starting the rest of the video, pass out the CLIO lesson card to each student. Students will use the card about halfway through the video. As the video plays, use the prompts provided to have students discuss the different meanings for words that are the same. The video will take students through a few multiple meaning words. When you get to the section of the video that discusses another meaning for the word bowl, ask students to brainstorm and draw another meaning on their CLIO lesson card. If students seem to be struggling with coming up with an idea on their own, you can have students talk with a partner or small group first, or you can conduct this portion of the lesson as a whole group. Continue this procedure with the words shake and fly.

Once the video is over, ask students to turn to a partner and give two examples of words with new  meanings.  You can even challenge students to think of new words that have multiple meanings that were not included in the video.



Some ideas to assist with understanding multiple meaning words include:

  • Pair struggling students with someone else who can offer additional guidance, or have the student work with you during the guided portion of the lesson.
  • Provide visuals for students in the form of an anchor chart so they can see the options in front of them and have an easier time with making a selection.
  • Give students three choices of what the correct answer could be, and have the student select from those choices. Encourage students to think about what the best answer could be and which word is the same as the provided word.


When students can understand this topic quickly, there are a few ways to continue to push them in their learning. First, start by asking students to turn their paper over and think of additional examples that have not been included in the video. Students can also be asked to think of words that have more than two meanings. Finally, when students are especially picking up on the skill, you can begin the work of homographs and homophones with students and have them work on examples of those.

Practice is Key

Supporting Activities for Identifying New Meanings for Familiar Words

Using the provided new meanings matching cards, have students get into groups of four and play a game of matching. Explain the directions to the students as follows:

  1. Take all 16 cards out of the bag and place them face down on the table. Make sure that they have been spread apart and no one can see what is on the other side.
  2. Decide who is going to go first when playing the game.
  3. The first student will turn over two cards and read the words on the cards. The student will be responsible for explaining what each word means based on the picture that is represented on the card.
  4. If the two cards show the same word with different meanings, then the student has made a match and gets to keep those cards and go again.
  5. If the two cards are different words, then the student will flip the cards back over and the next student will get to go.
  6. The game will continue until all matches have been made. The student with the most matches at the end of the game will be considered the winner.
  7. Students can play as many times as they would like within the given amount of time.



Knowledge Check

Check for Understanding

After students have been given plenty of time to play the matching game and discuss words with multiple meanings, draw the lesson to a close with the CLIO Knowledge Check.

Begin by asking students to have a three-minute conversation with their group members, explaining at least three different words they learned today that have multiple meanings. Allow students to get ideas from each other and remind students to reflect on the example at the beginning of the lesson, the examples from the video, and the examples from the matching game.

Give each student a CLIO Knowledge Check paper. Explain to students that they are going to select two words that they know have more than one meaning. Students can either choose words that were practiced during the lesson, or they can use additional words that they know from their background knowledge.

Students will write the word on the line at the top, and then draw two pictures showing two meanings that the word can have. Then they will give a second example at the bottom of the sheet. If students are struggling with this, you can have a private conversation with them reviewing the words that were practiced today during class. For students who are grasping this concept quickly, they can be challenged by turning the paper over and creating additional examples on the back.

Once all students are finished, give them time to share out their examples and drawings before closing the lesson. Use the CLIO Knowledge Checks to get an idea of which students need additional practice with multiple meaning words and which students are ready to move on to the next concept and skill.

Paige Carrasquillo

Paige Carrasquillo

Paige is an elementary school teacher from Texas. She has her undergraduate and graduate degree in Education/Curriculum and Instruction from Baylor University. She is happily married and a mother to twin girls.