Monday, January 3, 2005

January 2005: Great Game to Help Students Distinguish Between Homophones



This strategy was submitted during our year and a half long pilot of the America Learns Network in 2003 and 2004.

The strategy was created by a service learning student who was trying to help her mentee grasp the concept of homophones.  Check out the awesome game the mentor created!  We’re sure you’ll find it useful for your students.

Long Beach BLAST 

The Strategy

(Learning to Distinguish Between Homophones)

Created by: A service learning student mentoring with Long Beach BLAST
Topics: Spelling; Vocabulary Development
Grade Levels: First – Fourth
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group
Materials: - These puzzle pieces

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Situation: Learning to distinguish between homophones: words that sound alike, but are spelled differently and do not mean the same thing.
Step 1: I noticed that my student would confuse the meaning of words because they sounded the same. I used a game I call They Sound Alike, where pictures of words that sound alike match up and explicitly show the difference in spelling. For example, the two words RAIN and REIGN would be matched-up puzzle pieces.
Step 2: I first created puzzle pieces of words that sound alike but are spelled differently, and included the spelling of the words on each piece. When appropriate, I also drew a picture to illustrate the definition of a word.

For example, NOSE and KNOWS would be puzzle pieces that fit together.

Step 3: Since my student likes to read and figure out patterns, I placed the puzzle pieces on the table and asked my student to match up the words.

Download sample puzzle pieces that you can use with your students here.

Step 4: After my student made the matches, we discussed the differences between each homophone pair. Afterwards, I encouraged my student to write out a sentence for each word, separating and acknowledging the difference in the words. To help my student practice his new learning, we would go back through the words, covering up the picture to where only the word is exposed. Then I’d ask him to tell me the meaning of the word based on the spelling itself.

During this step, I realized that my student still misunderstood some words, so after reviewing each word, I reminded him, "See, it sounds [pointing at my ear] alike, but means something different [pointing at the pictures]."

Step 5: After working on this, I allowed my student to choose an activity since the They Sound Alike!game was my choice. He decided to read me a story. Throughout the book, we ran into homophones from our game -- and I would point at the word and ask him to give me the meaning, which he did correctly.

How Have You Addressed this Issue?

We’d love for you to share your thoughts on this strategy by typing in a comment below.