Why should we include homophones activities and other vocabulary learning opportunities in our upper elementary classroom? Isn't teaching context clues enough? These might be some of the questions that run through our heads when we think of explicitly teaching vocabulary.
As teachers, we know that there is a direct correlation between strong vocabulary and reading comprehension, but for some reason, the older students get the less direct instruction they receive in vocabulary. Although context clues are an effective way of figuring out the meaning of words, having a vast vocabulary word bank makes reading comprehension so much easier.
Providing students with vocabulary acquisition activities to help them understand and master root words, affixes, and homophones gives them an advantage as readers. In an article published by the Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction at the University of Mississippi, vocabulary instruction should include providing background knowledge, having students represent the word through pictures, and presenting multiple opportunities to interact with words.
Implementing Homophones Activities into the Curriculum
One of the easiest and most effective ways to help students with their vocabulary acquisition is to set up routines. This is why daily vocabulary work using "of the week" resources is my absolute favorite and my students' too.
These routines can be set up as morning activities, center activities, or home learning activities. They can be done in a binder or digitally, but working on words daily is the best way to help students master them.
An easy way to set up a routine is to break it down by days like the example provided below.
- Monday: Share a pair of homophones with your students. Students write down the homophones of the week. After discussing the words, students will check off whether the words are multiple meaning words or not and then write down a definition of each word.
- Tuesday: Students review the words and write an elaborate sentence for the first word. Have them include context clues in the sentence if possible.
- Wednesday: Students review the words and write an elaborate sentence for the second word.
- Thursday: Students create an illustration for each of the words.
- Friday: Students share their sentences and illustrations with a buddy.
To have this Homophones of the Week Graphic Organizer sent your email, you can sign up below.
Homophones activities can also be implemented through whole group lessons, centers, home learning or even as fun read alouds. These types of activities are highlighted in the Fun & Easy to Prep Commonly Confused Words Activities blog post.