Cloze Worksheets – What They Are and How to Make Them

Cloze worksheets are also known as “Fill in the Blank” worksheets. Words are deleted from a prose sentence or passage and the reader is required to fill in the blanks. Cloze tests or exercises require the ability to understand context and vocabulary in order to select correct words for completion. Given the right design, these worksheets can be used at all levels of literacy.

A search on the term “cloze generator” will find software programs which create cloze worksheets by randomly deleting words from a passage you enter. If, on the other hand, you would like to design the worksheet yourself, here are some tips for doing so.

In General.

  • Include a line for the learner’s name and date at the top of the worksheet. Title the worksheet to help when referring to it and also to set the stage for the learner. It helps them focus on the intended topic area.
  • Leave margins of 1-inch on all sides.
  • Keep plenty of white space on the page. The white space helps the learner pick out what is important and makes the material appear easier to understand. Students can be overwhelmed by a dense concentration of lettering.
  • Use bold lettering to separate sections of the worksheet. Follow with normal lettering for brief instructions. For example:
    Word Bank. Copy each word.
    Fill in the blank. Write a word from the word bank to complete the sentence.
  • First create the entire sheet by underlining the words which will be replaced by blanks. Keep this as the answer key. Make a copy of the document with a new name and replace the underlined words with blanks.

For Pre-literate and Early Literate Learners. Decide on a theme for the worksheet (telling time, items in the house, types of transportation, names of animals, etc). Provide a word bank with pictures at the top of the worksheets. Provide a blank line immediately under or beside the word for the learner to copy the word. Limit the number of words to ten or less. Keep the worksheet to one page. Use a large font size of 20 points or more. Not only does this help with the perceived difficulty of the page, it also provides plenty of space for the handwritten responses.

Make the cloze sentences simple declarative statements or questions. Use each word only once. For the blank give a line for each letter instead of a single line. In this way, the learner has more clues to the correct response. It builds confidence and positively reinforces their learning. So if the word to be filled in is cat make the sentence like this.

The __ __ __ drank milk.

As the learner becomes more familiar with the vocabulary, the blank can become a single line.

The _______ drank milk.

Primary School Level. Word banks are helpful features at any level, but for learners still acquiring basic vocabulary, they are essential. Pictures may or may not be included. In fact, as the vocabulary becomes more sophisticated, pictures may not aid in understanding. A simple list of the words for the exercise is sufficient. In addition to providing space to copy the word, you may also wish to include a section for the learner to write the words in alphabetical order. Keep sentences simple but add more descriptive material to help retain interest. Using the previous example, the sentence might look like this.

The _____ drank milk from a bowl.

In addition to single sentences, introduce short paragraphs with blanks to fill in.

Word Bank:  waved  swung  halted   strode  spotted

The man ________ down the street quickly. He __________a bright yellow taxi and ________. The taxi ____________ alongside the curb and _________abruptly.

Another way to use the cloze worksheet is for practicing with prefixes and suffixes. Using the first sentence from the previous example, a practice sentence might look like this.

The man strode down the street quick___.

Worksheets can be one or two pages.

Intermediate and High School Level. Word banks may or may not be provided depending on the learning objective. If introducing new vocabulary, word banks are helpful. If practicing or testing reading comprehension, grammar use, or other knowledge skills, word banks may not be necessary.

Completed worksheets which include word banks can be checked by fellow students using the answer key. Cloze worksheets testing grammar require more knowledgeable reviewers since there may be numerous acceptable answers.

The bird flew ______________. (Quickly, slowly, clumsily, swiftly, etc are all acceptable adverbs describing how the bird flew.)

The font size can be reduced to 12 points. Longer paragraphs are appropriate with blanks scattered throughout the reading selection. Including a section of multiple choice questions to test comprehension or including spaces for writing the main idea and the supporting details are ways to further the learning objectives and provide variety for the learner.

Use. Cloze worksheets can be used in the classroom or as homework. In the classroom, students can work on their own (particularly fitting for intermediate and high school level due to the longer reading passages) or the teacher can walk through the worksheet with the class. This technique is particularly useful for first time use of cloze worksheets and for new material. If used as homework, students can be paired for reviewing each other’s worksheet and, using the answer key provided by the teacher, make corrections as needed. Alternatively, the teacher can post the answer key and allow them to grade their own worksheet. Or the teacher can grade them.

Cloze worksheets are helpful learning and testing tools. Employ the tips in this article to create worksheets which are thought provoking and relevant to your learning objectives. They will engage students in a focused and satisfying way.

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