The Fantastic Frayer Model: Understanding Concepts and Academic Vocabulary

What It Is

The Frayer Model is a graphic organizer with four or five specific sections. It is designed to help students understand academic vocabulary or concepts. The sections have students define the term, describe characteristics of the term, provide examples and non-examples, and may include a visual representing the term. Through this process, students think deeply about what the word means, and connect the word to their own prior knowledge of concepts. 

Thinking Strategies – Anticipate – Frayer Model

Why Use It

This strategy is beneficial for students for several reasons.  Firstly, it provides a framework to build connections and develop academic vocabulary. Secondly, students are able to apply their understanding, compare and contrast ideas, and analyze in context. 

“Using the Frayer Model with younger students was a great way to break down a concept.  I used the Frayer Model to help my students understand the concept of ‘What is Culture?’

Using just ONE page I had students show various important parts of a community’s culture. Students  drew the landscape of the area they were studying. They included the flag that represented the culture.They wrote in block letters the name of the culture and added colour  using significant colours for that culture. Students wrote short notes about the language that was spoken, the key foods that were connected to the culture , as well as  what was meaningful to the cultural group. All of this was completed on the ONE page for a quick reference. After using this model for the concept of “Culture”, I found that my students had an easier time  remembering  the different cultures that we had studied in our social class.” – Wendy Williamson    

Where To Use It

The Frayer Model can be used across grades and in all subjects. Try using the Frayer Model in the following scenarios:

  • Understanding academic vocabulary in any subject
  • Demonstrating concept attainment (e.g. imperialism, multiplication, story, living things)
  • Review of key terms and concepts 

See It In Action:

Center Activity — The Frayer Model Explained


Click here to see some examples of the Frayer Model. 

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