As we all know, even adults make mistakes when it comes to commonly misspelled words. We’ve all seen homophones like your and you’re used incorrectly in a work email. A great way to help students avoid those common spelling errors is to explicitly teach homophones in the primary grades. Check out these homophone activities and ideas to implement with your class!
Anticipatory Homophones Activities
Before you start teaching homophones, you can capture students’ interest and draw upon their background knowledge with an anticipatory activity. Guess the Category is always an easy, effective one to start with. Simply draw a circle map on the board with a question mark in the middle.
Tell students that you are going to start writing some words inside the circle map. Have them think about what those words have in common. Their challenge is to guess what category should be written in place of the question mark.
You could tell the kids to put their hands on their head (or any other visual cue) when they think they’ve figured out what the words have in common. Once a decent number of students have shown that they have a guess, you can stop adding words.
Even though many kids are ready to guess the category at this point, don’t have them share their guesses quite yet. Instead, ask if they can come up with any of their own words that would fit in the same category they are thinking of. Have a few students share their ideas, and add those words inside the circle map if they do fit the category.
If any shared words don’t fit the category, you could write them on the outside of the circle map. For instance, someone might give an example of a homonym instead of a homophone. This is a great teachable moment to discuss the difference.
Engage students in a discussion about why the word nail doesn’t belong. One might argue that it does belong because nail can have more than one meaning. But hopefully another student will also point out that it only has one spelling.
After having those discussions, students can share their official guesses as to what the category is!
Students don’t typically come up with the term “homophones” (unless you’re doing this activity as a review). They might say, “words that sound the same but mean different things” or something along those lines. This is a good opportunity to introduce that vocabulary. It’s also another great time to reinforce the difference between homophones and homonyms. Help solidify the understanding that homophones sound the same and have different meanings, but also have different spellings.
Homophones Anchor Charts
Here are a few of my favorite anchor charts to introduce some common homophones that are often spelled incorrectly. They are very helpful to leave displayed in the classroom, as students can refer to them often during independent writing.
There, They’re, and Their
Your and You’re
This one is from @miss5th on Instagram:
Then and Than
Two, To, and Too
Similarly to the “there, they’re, and their” anchor chart, you could use sticky notes for this chart. Have students write the word in a sentence in a way that shows the meaning. Place the sticky notes under each heading, and your kids will have a helpful reference on the wall. Another option is to have students write the sentences directly onto the poster. Tip: laminate the anchor chart and have students write in white board marker so you can reuse it.
Any and All Homophones
This anchor chart doesn’t focus on a specific common misspelling, but is helpful in introducing what homophones are in general. And there are a ton of homophones activities that can go with this “pairs of pears” theme!
“Pairs of Pears” Homophones Activities
To go with the last anchor chart pictured above, there are a number of engaging activities you can do!
Give each student a pear card with a homophone on it (just cut up some of the cards pictured below). Students walk around the room to find their matching pair, or matching pear! Have partners discuss the difference in spelling and meaning of the words, and give examples of each.
Write the Room
You could tape or display these same pear/pair cards all around the classroom. Have students go on a homophone hunt for all the pairs they can find. Give them one of these differentiated recording sheets to record the homophones that they find around the room. They could write the word pairs only, or also write a sentence for each.
Pairs of Pears Writing Craft and Bulletin Board
Let students choose a pair of homophones, or assign them a pair. Then give each child a paper copy of a “pair of pears” (with or without googly eyes). On each of the pears, have them use each homophone in a sentence that shows the meaning of the word. They could also sketch a little picture to go with each of their sentences.
These pears can be displayed on a bulletin board that is both cute and functional! Students are able to go look at the bulletin board if they need help with spelling a particular homophone.
You can cut out letters to use as a bulletin board heading. Alternatively, you could also just display the anchor chart in the center of all of the kids’ writing crafts.
Literacy Center Games
After you’ve introduced homophones and done some guided activities, giving students some additional independent practice and review is always valuable! Repurpose the matching “pairs of pears” matching cards for literacy center games such as Go Fish, Memory Matching, Bingo, etc. For your ELLs or kids who need accommodations in reading, you could also use these differentiated matching cards that include pictures.
Kids also love this Jenga game for homophones practice during centers. It is so engaging and fun that they barely even realize all the learning that is happening! This one’s here in the shop on my website and on TPT.
If you’d like to utilize any of the “Pairs of Pears” materials I’ve shared, it’s all in this Homophones Activities Pack! It includes the anchor chart, writing craft, matching cards, Write the Room sheets, and bulletin board letters. You can find it all together in my website shop, and it’s in on TPT too.
Hopefully you’ve found some homophones activities here that will help your kiddos with spelling, grammar, and reading comprehension. I love the thought of helping students avoid making potentially embarrassing spelling mistakes when they become working adults one day.
What are some of your favorite homophones activities? I’d love to hear them here in the comments below!