The Homophone Game

Here’s something for other writing teachers out there – a homophone game!

This game will work with 1 to however many students you have. One student might keep a tally of how many answers he gets right in a round. Multiple students can compete against each other, or you can use a group elimination approach as I describe below.

I was cleaning out my shelves and ran across Susan Anthony’s Spelling Homophone book and was looking through how I might use it in my classes next year. Some students really struggle with they’re/there/their, to/too/two, and your/you’re/yore, etc. mistakes, so instead of making a bunch of boring worksheet handouts, I thought of a game to play instead.

I use handheld dry erase paddles in my classroom*, so kids will write their answers on those, but iPads or even pieces of scratch paper would work. The game would also work well in the chat box of a webinar class.

Here’s how the game goes – a combination of Elimination and 20 Questions:

1. Introduce one homophone group on the board, and give the kids some tips on how to remember which is which.

For example, there has the word here in it, meaning in a place.

They’re = they are, so substitute they are in the sentence. If they are fits, use they’re.

or

The principal is your pal, a person. The other principle means value or belief.

or

The number two (say “tuuuuuuu”) is spelled with a W (say “double uuuuuuuuu”). Over-emphasize and make it rhyme.

or

Piece has the word pie in in, and you would definitely like a piece of pie!

Peace-lovers eat peas.

There are 20 sentences on each page of Anthony’s Homophone book. You could easily think of your own sample sentences if you don’t have the book. Click here for a list of easily confused homophones.

2. Slowly read one sentence at a time. If the homophones sound exactly the same, read the sentence with the homophone in it. If the words sounded slightly different, like were and where, read the sentence with a “blank” in it.

3. The kids write the correct homophone on the paddle and lift it up when cued. Anyone who gets it wrong has to surrender their paddle to the “constable” (a volunteer student or classroom helper). Whoever is left with a paddle at the end of the 20 questions wins! I hand out out treat tokens (I actually use old puzzle pieces) that the kids collect to trade for mini-candies after class.

To keep kids from gleaning from faster writer/thinkers, use a “write it, hide it, SHOW IT!” process within the game. The kids write their answers on the paddles and hide their answers until everyone is ready. They only reveal their answers when you see all kids are ready and you call out “SHOW IT!” This approach also lessens the stress on kids as they concentrate on how to spell the correct answer – there’s no rush.

There you have it! Enjoy the Homophone Game! ;-)

*Although I bought my dry erase paddles from Trainer’s Warehouse, I have seen even cheaper options at Oriental Trading as well as the Dollar Aisle at Target. Kleenlsate also has a sturdy classroom option.

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