What is a Frayer Model?

The Frayer Model is a type of graphic organizer that uses a four-square model to determine, clarify, and analyze word meaning and structure. The selected word to focus on is written in an oval in the middle of a page or chart paper. At times, the part of speech is also included in the oval. Each of the four squares is blank and has a heading at the top. The headings or labels on the top of each square include a variation of the words definition, attributes, characteristics, synonyms, examples, antonyms, or nonexamples.

The Frayer Model focuses on studying one word at a time with a prescribed technique and sequence to analyze and decipher the meaning and structure of the unknown word. Photographs or illustrations may also be added to help visualize the word.

The Frayer Model is created based upon the background knowledge, prior knowledge, or previous experiences of a person’s life. Making connections increases comprehension and vocabulary development. The Frayer Model enables readers to understand attributes of words and relationships between concepts or word structure.

When is it Appropriate to Use?

This graphic organizer is most appropriately used when teaching lessons in word analysis or introducing new vocabulary terms in text or in content. The Frayer Model can be used at any grade level or in any subject matter instruction but is certainly most effective at the upper elementary and secondary levels and in content.

The directions for creating and interpreting the Frayer Model are better comprehended at the upper elementary level and above. The Frayer Model teaches vocabulary by teaching synonyms, antonyms, examples, nonexamples, and characteristics or attributes of the word.

How to Use the Frayer Model in Your Class

The Frayer Model can be used in whole-group, small-group, or in one-on-one instruction. The key to using this graphic organizer is for the teacher to preselect the vocabulary words and model the process of completing each component. Use a common word to show children how to complete the Frayer Model; a term that children can actually picture is best.

For example, turtle would be a good primary word while frustrated would be a good word for upper elementary school students. Help the students find the definition for the word preferably from text in your own words, then explain how the characteristics of a word help you visualize a turtle or a frustrated person in your mind.

Using synonyms or examples of the word are a helpful way to build vocabulary. Teaching opposites through antonyms and nonexamples are a great way to explain what the feature word does not mean. Comparing and contrasting words better paint a picture of the unique meaning and characteristics of a term.

Once students understand how to complete the graphic organizer, teachers should put students in pairs or small groups and assign one word for them to work on. Students are encouraged to become experts about that one word and teach the new vocabulary term to the rest of the class. The graphic organizers can be added on a vocabulary wall for students to refer to. Students should be encouraged to use these new words in conversation and in their writing.

Teachers should also consider how to use the Frayer Model strategically in word study instruction or content areas to make the biggest impact. For example, during a unit on prefixes or Greek or Latin roots, each pair of children can get a word with the same prefix. Once all of the groups have presented, students should be able to identify, recognize, and explain the similarities among the words and their meanings.

Content area instruction in science, social studies, and math can also use the Frayer Model in the beginning of a unit to teach new vocabulary words. Content vocabulary is a major component in the comprehension of a skill or objective that can either make or break a student’s understanding. The Frayer Model is an effective instructional tool that helps children increase their vocabulary development, which leads to better comprehension in reading.