Frequently confused words such as “their, there, and they’re” can be a difficult concept for students of all ages to master. What if you could make it fun instead of troublesome? Here are some ideas for you to make teaching tricky homophones easy peasy lemon squeezy!
Some Common Examples of Frequently Confused Words
Let’s start with a list of twenty-five commonly confused words. These homophones sound exactly the same which is why students struggle so much with them.
- Their, they’re, there
- Weigh, way
- Weight, wait
- Your, you’re
- Two, too, to
- Bee, be
- Eight, ate
- When, win
- Where, wear
- Aunt, ant
- Who, hoo
- Blue, blew
- Which, witch
- Hear, here
- Are, our
- Weather, whether
- Bare, bear
- Principal, principle
- It’s, its
- One, won
- Break, brake
- Capitol, capital
- Allowed, aloud
- Buy, by
- Wore, war
Teach Definitions of Frequently Confused Homophones
That sounds dry, doesn’t it? But you can teach the definitions by creating catchy sentences that give the meaning of the words. For example, my students used to like this one.
- I’m too cool to do those two things.
The students remember that the words “too cool” both have the /oo/ digraph. The words “to do” only have one /o/ vowel. Finally, “two” is the number of things they’re too cool to do.
- My Aunt Tilda dropped her u and turned into an insect, an ant!
Students remember the u belongs in the name Aunt Tilda, because if she forgets the u, she turns into an ant.
Make as many fun sentences as you can. It’s also fun to do it together in class. You’ll be surprised at how creative the students can be. If you do it with their input, they’ll be more likely to remember the sentences and meanings of the homophones.
Creating sentences together is a perfect morning activity. You could do it during a class meeting or carpet time, you could use it as a warmup before a lesson. You could even turn it into a mini-lesson.
It’s a good idea to only teach one set of frequently confused words each day. If you pile on too many words at one time, you’ll have your students’ heads spinning. Create or introduce one sentence a day, and then follow with this next activity.
Create Visuals of the Frequently Confused Words
Have your students open to a new page in their word journals. Write the commonly confused homophones at the top of the page. Have them write the sentence you created. Under the sentence they should add visuals to help them remember what it means.
You could also have them make a poster or picture in a sketchbook. Making a poster is a fun group activity. They can be creative with their designs. When they do this, they’re more likely to remember the words. Plus, you’ll have some fabulous student work to hang on your walls that will also be a helpful reminder to your students.
Another fun idea is to have them create a digital slide showing the visual aid. Do it the same way as they would in the word journal or on a poster. Just have them use clipart or images from a safe source. They could also use icons and stock images that are freely available in the program you use such as Powerpoint or Google Slides.
Provide visuals: Visual aids such as posters, pictures, or videos can be helpful in reinforcing the meanings of these words. Use different colors or fonts to make them stand out and more memorable.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!
Using repetition will solidify these words in the minds of your students. Encourage your students to use these words correctly in their writing and speaking. I used to give a high-five or elbow bump whenever I caught a student using the words correctly. Find ways to incorporate these words into your classroom discussions, assignments, and daily routines with a focus on the words most recently introduced.
However, the spaced learning technique is super effective in cementing the words into long-term memory. It’s a vocabulary learning technique that uses repetition and spacing.
- Day 1 through 5 practice the words every day.
- Day 6 through 10 practice every other day.
- Day 10 and beyond practice the words once each week.
Eventually, your students will be able to use the words correctly every time.
Make Learning Commonly Confused Words Fun
You could practice with worksheets using the words in context. But you and I both know that gets old fast, and bored students aren’t going to put forth their best effort. Use worksheets on occasion, but not all the time.
Make it fun with games or activities your students like. I’ve created some Boom Cards, Games, and Google Slides (™) activities that make it fun. I also created a set of task cards and a game board to practice the words.
Here are some ideas for using the task cards.
- Play a game of Scoot. Give your students a grid for an answer key, and put the task cards around the room. The task cards are numbered.
- Create a matching card game. Make a set of cards with just one word on it. Make another set of cards with a sentence that has one blank. For example, a sentence card might be: The _____ wore a black hat. Students will match that sentence with the card that has the word “witch”. However, it’s even better if you have students create the sentences on index cards and the matching word on another index card. You’ll have a class game that your students created on their own! That will make it high interest!
- Use a game board with the task cards that have the words and sentences. This is perfect for a literacy center or for working with a literacy aide.
- Send the game board and task cards home in a homework folder. Students will love playing the game at home.
- Play Boom Cards or use the drag and drop features in a slides activity.
Do you have more ideas for making learning tricky homophones fun? Leave a note in the comments to share your ideas! I’d love to see what other teachers are doing.
After all this practice your students will be able to confidently use tricky homophones correctly in their writing and speaking. That’s the goal!