Many adults mix up their homophones. With the frequent use of social media, this confusion is now quite evident. I can’t count the times I have seen someone say something like “thank goodness my kids are quite (quiet)” or “your (you’re) a great friend.” Giving children frequent exposure to homophones can help them use the right words in the proper context. Here are some fun activities to teach homophones.
What is a Homophone?
Homophones are words that sound the same yet have different spellings and meanings. Here are a few common examples:
- their (shows plural possession), they’re (contraction of they are), there (shows direction)
- Your (shows singular possession), You’re (contraction of you are)
- quiet (opposite of loud), quite (to a significant degree)
- to (preposition), too (an excessive amount), two (the number)
Seeing homophones side-by-side can help children remember the meanings and spellings. Homophone posters are an open-ended activity that can be used for an independent activity during reading rotations. Students should complete these several times a week, throughout the year, to expose them to more homophones. Students will fold their papers in half (or in thirds for some homophone sets) and write the two homophones at the top on either side of the paper. At the bottom, they should use a dictionary to write the definition of each. Then, they should write a sentence using the word correctly and underline the homophone. Finally, they can illustrate their sentence in the middle.
Picture books are an entertaining way to teach kids about homophones. I like Dear Deer by Gene Barretta. The book tells a tale of an aunt writing a letter to her nephew about life at the zoo. Fooling Ewe by Mike Demers tells a story about Ewe, a young sheep who decides to entertain herself by “playing tricks” on her farm friends. Along the way, kids can learn about the difference between ewe and you.
This is a great activity to do in small groups. First, write out a story and leave blanks so children can add in words. Next, write a series of homophones on small index cards with tape on the back so kids can “stick” the words into the story. Here is a sample story to use (the words in italics are homophones and should be omitted from the story and written on index cards):
Milo liked to write letters. He wrote letters to his grandma, grandpa and two friends, Jack and Emily. Everyday he walked to the mailbox to send their letters. However, one day the mailbox had too many letters inside. When he opened the letter opening, envelopes began spilling out.
“Oh, no!” Milo thought, “How can I send the letters to my friends?”
“You’re in luck,” a voice said.
“I can deliver the letters to your friends,” a beautiful blue jay chirped.
Milo reached up and handed the letters to the bluejay. “Oh thank you, I wouldn’t want to disappoint them.”
“They’re lucky to have you as their friend,” the bluejay said as he flew away.
These activities to teach homophones can help eliminate word confusion.
More from Melissa:
Teaching Theme With Picture Books
Using Children’s Books to Teach Descriptive Writing
Teaching Tips: Using Picture Books to Teach Figurative Language