Chimp Champ: Jane Goodall

articale by Karen Jameyson , illustrated by Fifi Colson

Learning intention

I am learning to use context clues to make predictions about the meanings of unfamiliar words so that I can confidently read increasingly challenging texts.

Success criteria

  • I can use context clues to identify the meaning of unfamiliar words.
  • I can use knowledge of base words and suffixes to assist with understanding unfamiliar vocabulary.
  • I can compose sentences that provide context clues about the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.


Display the first few sentences from Chimp Champ: Jane Goodall:

Jane Goodall believes that every single human being can change the world in some way. And this incredible English primatologist* has truly made her mark. For more than 55 years she has studied chimpanzees and spoken out for their rights.


Draw students’ attention to the word ‘primatologist’. Most likely students will not know the meaning of this word. If any students do know its meaning, request that they keep this to themselves for now. Inform students that they will be looking for clues to establish the meaning of this word. Discuss the following questions:

  • What does Jane Goodall make her mark in? (Studying chimpanzees and speaking out for their rights)
  • What does the base-word primate mean? (Most likely students will know this includes monkeys. Look the word up in a dictionary to establish that it also includes lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans)
  • What does the suffix -ologist mean? Hint, think biologist, radiologist, Egyptologist. (Someone who studies a topic)

Use the responses to make predictions about the meaning of the word primatologist. Sample responses include, they study monkeys, they study chimpanzees, they are an expert in chimpanzees.

Check the end of page 16 of the article, Chimp Champ: Jane Goodall for the answer:

*A primatologist is someone who studies primates, such as gorillas, chimpanzees and monkeys.

Read up to the end of page 17 from Chimp Champ: Jane Goodall or listen to the audio file. Identify vocabulary that students find unfamiliar and list these on the board, such as:

  • Suspecting
  • Archaeologist
  • Paleontologist
  • enthusiasm
  • natural history museum
  • Tanzania
  • hesitate
  • accompany
  • Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve
  • Suspicious
  • binoculars
  • curiosity
  • devoured

Work through some further examples collaboratively, using the context to identify the meanings. For example:

  • Suspecting (Context clue, never suspecting her life would change. Emphasise that the tone of the sentence appears to imply her life would change which allows readers to predict that suspecting means the same as expecting)
  • Archaeologist (Emphasise the -ologist suffix, meaning to study, and the base word archaeo meaning ancient. Note: students may need to look this word up using a dictionary)
  • Paleontologist (Emphasise the -ologist suffix, meaning to study, and the base word paleo meaning old. Note: students may need to look this word up using a dictionary to discover that a paleontologist studies fossils)
  • enthusiasm (Context clue: Impressed by Jane’s enthusiasm and passion for animals, the inclusion of the word ‘and’ provides a clue that the word has the same meaning as passion)
  • natural history museum (Clue: students should be familiar with each of the words individually and emphasise that when combined they refer to a museum that exhibits natural elements from history)
  • Tanzania (Emphasise here that the use of a capital letter that reveals this word is a proper noun, and the context, the wilds of Tanzania reveals it is a place)

Place students in pairs or small groups. Inform them that they will be working through the words on the list, using context clues and knowledge of base-words and suffixes to identify potential meanings. Tell students that once they have considered the remaining words on the list that they should read the rest of the article and note any unfamiliar words. Instruct them to then use the same strategies as previously to assist with identifying the meanings.

Discuss students’ responses and the clues that they identified. Tell students that they will be composing their own brief sentences with some of these words. Inform them that their sentences should include context clues that allow others to identify the meaning of the word. Inform students that they can change the suffixes that were used in the article when composing their own sentences. Construct examples collaboratively before instructing students to work on their own sentences. Examples include:

  • I never suspected I would have loved writing narratives until I found myself writing new ones every day for fun.
  • The archaeologist collected a number of important ancient artifacts to exhibit at the museum.
  • I took part in the activities in the incursion with passion and enthusiasm.



Instruct students to select unfamiliar words from a dictionary and compose sentences with context clues that allow readers to identify the meaning of the words.


Provide the students with the following exit slip question and instruct them to note their responses in their workbooks:

  • What clues allow us to make predictions about the meanings of unfamiliar words?