To, Too, or Two: Developing an Understanding of Homophones
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Site or sight? Write or right? Because there are many words in the English language that sound the same but are spelled differently, students may struggle to write the right spelling for certain words. These word types known to complicate spelling and vocabulary are called homophones. An integral part of students' vocabulary and spelling development is to learn and understand the meaning of these homophones. In this minilesson, students begin by generating a list of homophones with which they are familiar. Students then listen to a song, identify homophones in the song, and discuss their meaning and spelling. Finally, student groups create a skit that depicts the meaning of a homophone. As the group performs the skit, their classmates attempt to guess the homophone that is on display. Groups finish the lesson by creating a comic strip version of their skit to be compiled into a class "homophone book."
From Theory to Practice
This article discusses the stages of spelling development and explores how those stages translate into appropriate instruction. Bear and Templeton touch on several aspects of vocabulary and spelling development including homophone instruction. The authors make the following observations:
- Homophone instruction is an important transition in students' spelling and vocabulary development as it marks the point where "vocabulary development and meaning patterns increasingly become major aspects of word study instruction."
- Instruction in the meaning and spelling of homophones also helps students realize that the spelling of a word "can represent its meaning as well as its sound."
Common Core Standards
This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.
This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.
NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts
- 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
- 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
- 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
Materials and Technology
- Index cards
- Internet access with audio capabilities
|1.||Check your computer's audio capabilities by playing the Homophones song. Be sure students will be able to hear the song.
|2.||Using the Homophone Reference List, write several homophones (15–20) on index cards (one word on each card) for small group work.
|3.||Create a sample homophone comic with the Comic Creator (see step 5 below) for students to look at before they create their own comics.
- Learn the definition of a homophone
- Recognize and give examples of several common homophones
- Listen to a song about homophones to extend their understanding
- Work in small cooperative groups to create short skits demonstrating an understanding of homophones
- Work in small groups to create homophone comic strips
Instruction and Activities
|1.||Begin by introducing the term homophone to students. Explain that homophones are words that sound alike but have different meanings and are spelled differently. Note the root word phone, which means sound. Homophones involve sound and listening, just like when one talks on the phone. Ask students to brainstorm some homophones and write them on chart paper or the board.
|2.||Tell students that they are going to be listening to a song, and they should listen for as many homophones as they can hear. Play the Between the Lions' Homophones song. You may want to play the song several times for students. Ask students to tell what homophones they hear in the song. Record them on the board. Depending on the age and maturity of your students, you may want to print out the lyrics to the song and have them sing the song as a class.
|3.||Once students have listened to the song and identified the homophones, discuss the meaning and spelling of each homophone with students. Point out that each homophone sounds the same but has a different meaning and spelling.
|4.||Divide students into small groups (3–4 students) and explain that they are going to be acting out several homophones for the class. The other students in the class will have to give the meaning and spelling of that particular homophone. Have students pick one of the homophone index cards. Each group should come up with a short (10–20 second) skit that depicts the homophone that they selected.
Example: If a group selects the homophone meet, they might act out a quick skit in which two people meet each other. The other members of the class would have to give the meaning and spelling of that homophone (meet). Depending on your class, you may want to say the homophone aloud before each skit and just have the other students in the class give the correct spelling and meaning based on the skit. Or, you may just want the groups to act out the skit and have students try to determine the homophone (without saying it orally first).
Have the other groups select index cards and act out the homophones on their cards. Continue with the skits until several sets of homophones have been identified.
|5.||Once all groups have completed their skits, each group can use the online Comic Creator to turn their skit into a short comic strip. Show students your sample comic strip before they begin. The comics can be compiled into a class "homophone book" or displayed in the classroom.
In order to extend these activities, students may want to have more practice with homophones. Visit the following websites for additional practice pages:
- Crossword Puzzles
Visit this online tool and select Play One of Ours and the K-2 tab. In the drop-down menu you will find a puzzle titled Words That Sound Alike. Students can solve the puzzle online or you can print it off and give them blank copies. For more information about the puzzle, see Playing Puzzles: A Guide for Teachers.
- School Specialty Intervention Lesson Pack: Practicing Homophones
- Sense and Nonsense: Practice with Homophone Sentences
Click "Skills and Strategies: Spelling," then scroll down and click the reproducible "Sense and Nonsense."
Student Assessment / Reflections
Assessment can be done informally through observation and/or anecdotal notes during the instructional period. Students' comic strips can be assessed using the Homophone Comics Assessment Rubric.
I love doing songs with my lessons. I try to do them as much as possible. I still remember songs from my elementary grammar classes.
Thanks for the terrific mini lesson! I plan to share this with the teachers in my building.