Ever read a friend's Facebook post or colleagues email and been shocked that they couldn’t spell ‘where’ or ‘their’ or ‘two’ correctly? Did their misspelling leave a bad impression? Are you determined that this will not happen to your children?
Let us help you… All of these words are homophones and year on year they prove to be one of the trickiest spelling groups for children (and adults) to master. Why? Because the English language gives us some words that sound the same but have two or more different meanings and two or more different spellings. This is one area where phonics doesn’t necessarily help. Being able to spell the word is one thing, choosing the correct spelling when there are two or more can be extremely tricky and is something I see children struggle with all the time.
Unless they are patiently taught and repeated until learned, homophones can become a very bad habit, the bane of many teachers’ lives. With a little help and support and a bit of specific summer targeting, you could send your child well on their way to eradicating their homophone bad habits.
Tell your children that there are lots of words with two meanings. There is a simple game you can play in the car or over dinner that children absolutely LOVE! The word with two meanings game! Take it in turns to think of a word that has two or more meanings and explain what each of the meanings are as well as spelling the word.
For example – Flower and flour; A flower (F L O W E R) is a colourful, pretty plant that grows in the garden, flour (F L O U R) is used when baking a cake or scones. Tie, tie and Thai; a tie (T I E) is something you wear with a suit, tie (T I E) is what you might do to secure a knot or your shoelaces and Thai (T H A I) is a language spoken by people who come from Thailand.
You can make it fun, by trying to trick them! Make the odd mistake and see if they catch you out. Some words can lead to discussions of meaning and some may have more meanings than you first thought of! Build up a bank of words to play with and you can use them for the games listed below. Here are some examples.
Once children know what homophones are and find them fun, introduce some of our EdPlace worksheets to help them with the more tricky homophones such as there, their and they’re; two, too and to and even words that are commonly confused such as our, hour and are. Here are some worksheets that will help…
Key Stage 1 English Activities
Key Stage 2 English Activities
If you are an existing customer, simply Log in and assign the worksheets to your child for them to complete.
As well as worksheets, games are a great way to consolidate, here are a few ideas;
- Homophone Pictionary: give two people a homophone (two cards, two different spellings) and they can race to draw the meaning of their card.
- Homophone memory: try to find two matching sound cards (i.e. new and knew), for extra points ask children to explain the meanings each time they turn a card over.
- Alphabet homophones: write the letters A-Z, race your child to think of a homophone for each letter.
It really is a case of simply learning them and the summer is a perfect time. Some children learn well by hearing the differences, some by visualising the letters, making up rhymes, riddles or adding simple stories to the spellings to help them remember. Some children like to touch and feel the letters, maybe foam bath letters, magnetic letters or cutting out shapes will help. Once they have mastered it you could be their student and they can teach you, being able to explain the homophone to you and spell it correctly will show how far they have come.