Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

This lesson plan, adaptable for all BrainPOP topics, challenges students to play a game called The Meaning of Beep in which they use context clues to figure out the meaning of an unknown word associated with a BrainPOP movie topic. The game presents three sentences, one at a time, for which students identify the meaning of “Beep”–a placeholder for a missing word. Each consecutive sentence provides more context clues than the previous, so by the third sentence–which is strongly tied to the movie–students should be successful in identifying the meaning of “Beep.”  We suggest playing this game after watching the related BrainPOP movie.

Students will:

  1. Discuss and recognize the value of using context clues.
  2. Watch movie associated with the game.
  3. Use context clues to identify the meaning of an unknown word.
  4. Identify synonyms and assess whether they make sense in context.
  5. Create their own version of Meaning of Beep (extension activity).



This lesson features a game called The Meaning of Beep developed in collaboration with our partner Institute of Play that challenges players to use context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words.

Preview and play The Meaning of Beep to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. Review the The Meaning of Beep: Tips and Tricks for ideas on how to make most effective use of the game.

To support English Language Learners and others, review Tips for Differentiation and ELL Support.

For ideas on how to use SnapThought with this game and specific prompts, read The Meaning of Beep: SnapThought Prompts.

Depending on your classroom routines and available technology, you may want to consider these grouping options:

  • 1:1 with students and devices; students join a game with three or four classmates each at their own device
  • Two students sharing one device and compete as one player
  • Station model with four students on four devices.  

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students how they know what Moby’s beeps mean when they’re watching a BrainPOP movie. Students mays say things like his gestures, but make sure they also recognize that context plays a big part, particularly what Tim says in response to Moby’s beeps. Explain that context clues help us figure out what is not stated directly, both when we listen and when we read. If this is the first time your students will be playing The Meaning of Beep, have them watch the Context Clues movie now.
  2. Now have students watch the associated BrainPOP movie, either on their own devices or as a whole class. As they watch, encourage them to make a list of words they don’t know. The wordscan be any type of vocabulary, from basic words to content-specific (tiers 1, 2, or 3).
  3. After the movie, ask students what they do when they come across a word they don’t know. Jot their responses on the whiteboard. If no one brings up using context clues, prompt the discussion by asking how they might be able to use other words in a text to help them figure out the meaning of an unknown word.
  4. Now, write a sample grade appropriate sentence with a challenging word underlined on the whiteboard. For example: “Maria prefers to run up short, steep hills rather than long, gradual ones.” If you are creating a different sentence, be sure to include a strong context clue.  
  5. Read the sentence aloud. First, ask students what they think the underlined word means. Then ask what clues in the text helped them figure it out. They should recognize that if Maria likes steep hills, then gradual must mean the opposite, or an antonym of steep. They might have defined gradual as something that rises up slowly. Point out that antonyms are one kind of context clues and that other forms include synonyms, definitions, and examples. You can share examples of each as follows:
      • Synonym: After many failed attempts, the mountain climber ultimately, or finally, made it to the peak.
      • Definition: Tony’s exhaustion is due to insomnia, a disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep.
      • Example: You can see many celestial bodies in the night sky, such as the moon, the stars, and even planets if you use a telescope.
  6. Project The Meaning of Beep on the whiteboard. Tell students that today they will play a context clue game called The Meaning of Beep. Explain that the object is to identify the meaning of the word BEEP using context clues. Model how to play a round, thinking aloud as you go.  Ask students to suggest words for BEEP in each sentence. Point out that the sentences get more descriptive as you progress through the game.
  7. Be sure to point out the following as you play:
      • Demonstrate how to select EASY or HARD and the number of words per round
      • Show how to make a first guess by typing in the box. Read the sentence aloud with the word you are thinking of using. Think aloud by asking if it makes sense.
      • In a subsequent sentence or in a second round, show how to select HINT to access the Word Bank. Point out that when you use the Word Bank, you lose the the opportunity to Super Pick later, which allows you to earn more points.
      • Show how after submitting a guess, other players’ guesses appear. Demonstrate how at this point you can either choose your own guess OR select another player’s guess and submit.
      • Model how to Super Pick by double clicking a guess you are sure is correct. REMEMBER: When using the Word Bank, you will not be able to Super Pick.
      • In the next two sentences in the round, try reading each sentences with the new guess. If it doesn’t work in all the sentences, it is incorrect.
      • After guesses and picks have been submitted for all three sentences, click Reveal Word. Point out that the big, bolded word is the target (and the one from the movie) and the highlighted words are synonyms players picked that were correct.
      • Review the scoring:
    Correct guess = 1 point Incorrect guess = 0 points Correct pick = 1 point Incorrect pick = 0 points Correct Super Pick = 2 points Incorrect Super Pick = -1 point
  8. Have students play The Meaning of Beep based on the grouping you think will be most effective (see Preparation). NOTE: If you want students to play with each other, you need to have a My BrainPOP account.
  9. If students have individual logins through My BrainPOP, encourage them to use the SnapThought® tool to take snapshots during game play, and reflect on their strategies. Review The Meaning of Beep: SnapThought Prompts for My BrainPOP for suggested prompts.
  10. Circulate and observe students as they play.  Refer to The Meaning of Beep: Tips and Tricks to assist and support students.
  11. Conclude the lesson by bringing the class together to discuss their experience. Ask what strategies were most effective and why and which were least effective and why.

Extension Activities:

Challenge students to work together in small groups to design their own The Meaning of Beep game. Provide the topic as it relates to a BrainPOP movie relevant to your curriculum or have them select a topic. Be sure they review the Tips for Creating Context Clue Sentences. Have groups swap their games to play.
Filed as:  3-5, 6-8, 9-12, The Meaning of Beep