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.
The principal is your pal, a person. The other principle means value or belief.
The number two (say “tuuuuuuu”) is spelled with a W (say “double uuuuuuuuu”). Over-emphasize and make it rhyme.
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
lessons lessEns (HA! 😉 ) 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.
Thirteen-year-old Margaret is one of the youngest students to complete all levels of Writing Foundations. She is a gifted writer, and it shows in the conclusion to her final portfolio this year.
I have learned multiple things during my journey through Writing Foundations. Although I have taken other classes with Ms. B., there were many new things I accomplished this year. First of all, I learned how to write flashbacks. These are papers where, within the content of the story, there is a flashback memory. I thoroughly enjoyed writing these types of papers because I was able to use my imagination with the paper. Another thing I learned in Writing Foundations is GWUps. Although I had completed these grammar warm ups where you have to find the errors in parts to an ongoing story in other classes, I had never had to type them up. Instead of just marking the corrections and writing down a rule for corrections, one for each part on a page, I had to type up the story parts with the corrections. I found this extremely helpful and it aided my memory of the grammar rules. Also this year, I wrote my first persuasive essay. In that paper, I was able to choose a topic and select a side to defend. Then, I had to find sources to support my information and create a bibliography for each source. I also used parenthetical references and attributions in the paper to show which information came from which source. These steps were also new to me this year, but as the year progressed, they became easier each time I executed them. These few things, as well as many more, summarize the mature curriculum presented in Writing Foundations. All in all, throughout the year, I have grown as a writer by taking the Level 2 Writing Foundations Webinar.
Thirteen-year-old Alysha wrote a stellar conclusion for her Level 1 portfolio. Enjoy!
Writing Foundations has been a wonderful class to hone and sharpen my writing skills. To say that I have improved in every area would be an understatement. From techniques, to correct grammar usage, to sentence structure, I have steadily and dramatically learned skills that have strengthened my writing. A challenge for me this year was using commas confidently and consistently. I am now using them with much more ease. I have also successfully attained a greater knowledge of how to make my writing more enjoyable to read by adding WOW words and special forces taught in this class. A highlight of my year was having two of my summaries read out loud to the class. This inspired me to continue working hard at my writing. The thing I will remember most from this year was how enjoyable Ms. Brekke made the whole writing experience, and coming out of this class I feel as though I could conquer the world with my writing. Writing Foundations has truly built a strong foundation for my writing journey.
Fifteen-year-old Michael completed Level 2 this year and is moving on to more advanced courses. He had us all in stitches as he gave his final portfolio presentation speech:
When I reflect on three years of learning from Ms B., in Writing Foundations, I realize all that I have learned. Today I am required to sum up all of that knowledge. With humor and thoughtfulness, Ms. Brekke has eased the pain I experienced when writing. Three years ago, I narrated simple stories. Now I type out complex ideas. Three years ago, I struggled with grammar, spelling, and wordiness; now I am successfully blending complex ideas in a succinct manner. From banned words to bibliographies, from fables to flashbacks, from summaries to research reports, I have discovered a world of writing.
I began to consider all the ways I could convey what I have learned, through humor or through serious material. On Sunday evening, I attended a talent show and laughed at parody based on the book of Lamentations, having to do with rules from a mother’s point of view. Today, I thought I would borrow this approach and present a less than serious message: what I have learned these years from Ms Brekke…
Verily, of the words of the English language, and expressions used to convey ideas and thoughts, and of all words that are acceptable and those you may use in your written assignments, use not the banned words.
Of the banned words see, said, go, get, big and little, great, bad and good, you shall use synonyms, and expressions of creativity, but use not the banned words.
Of the banned words come, quick, seem, amazing, feels, and enormous, you shall replace with alternative words, but use not the banned words.
Huge, happy, sad, feels and put are banned words and are battered and overused expressions. Of these words, I have grown weary. Use not the banned words.
Of the parental involvement, of the mothers and fathers and others assisting in the education of the students, thou shall always and every time, provide the signature of the parent on each Best Rough Draft. On the checklist of the Best Rough Draft, thou will have parental signature.
Thou shall not hand in a paper without the signature. On the Revised Draft, thou will provide a parental signature. Thou will remember to ask the parent to sign the checklist before the handing in the paper.
For if the paper is handed in without the signature, the paper is not given credit. And if the paper is handed in and returned to the student without the parental signature, the student loses points. For it is detestable to hand in a paper without a parent’s signature.
Thou shall create topic sentences in thy papers. For to convey thy thoughts clearly, concisely and succinctly is to demonstrate perfected style. To include a topic sentence pleases the one who has taught thee.
Thou shall include topic clinchers in thy paragraphs. For to include a topic clincher is to remind the writer and reader what the paragraph’s main point has been.
For the writer of such a paragraph pleases the teacher and others with clarifying thoughts and usage of the English language and the conveying of ideas. Indeed, the use of the topic sentence and the topic clincher together pleases the teacher and all others.
Verily, of the words of the English language, and expressions used to convey ideas and thoughts, and of all words that are acceptable and those you use in your written assignments, the incorporation of stylistic techniques shall be used. The use of –ly, vivid vibrant adjectives and burly verbs shall strengthen thy written work.
Likewise, of the stylistic techniques, very short sentences, alliteration, and metaphors shall be used and shall strengthen thy written work. It pleases the teacher and others when used in written work.
Of the stylistic techniques, -ing’s, -ed/adjectives, and clauses shall strengthen thy written work. It pleases the teacher and all others to use stylistic techniques in thy written work.
Neither shall thou plagiarize, for to plagiarize is to steal. To take credit for the work done by others is an offence and is loathsome. When one reads or studies of the delights of history or science or any of the multitudes of wonders of the earth, and uses the words and thoughts in their papers, one must always give credit to the original author. With certainty, to present these words and thoughts as one’s own is to plagiarize, and it is an abomination.
Verily, to withhold credit is detestable. And to plagiarize is despicable. Thou shall use parenthetical references in thy written work. For I say to you, giving credit to others’ work is praiseworthy.
Thou shall include a bibliography in thy written work. For to include a bibliography is to give honor to those who have published thoughts and words. To include a bibliography is to assist a writer in avoiding plagiarism.
Of all the books and journals and websites available for thy study, do not plagiarize. For to commit plagiarism is to steal and the punishment for plagiarism is banishment.
Thou shall expand thy vocabulary. Verily, of all the words in the English language, there exist copious expressions from which one may write. Documents devoid of mellifluous and tenable expressions are detestable. If thou are composing an assignment, thou shall use words which enlarge thy vocabulary.
And of the vocabulary words which are given thee for use, you shall study twelve words and be tested on them. For to study vocabulary words and utilize those words in thy papers is to demonstrate wisdom and understanding.
Thou shall review thy vocabulary words, called WOW words for the Capacious Kahuna of Refulgent Epicness. For the Kahuna is the tournament of classic and abiding erudition. Honor will be given thee if you are able to demonstrate thy knowledge of WOW words. A laurel wreathe will rest on thy head and a monkey sticker presented thee and pockets of candy and treats will overflow. Thou shall enter a land flowing with sugar and candy. And thou shall have renown.
Fourteen-year-old Emily shares her perspective of a year in Writing Foundations Level 1. Here is the conclusion from her pulchritudinous portfolio:
During the past year, I have learned about many interesting things and have chosen three that were highlights. The first lesson I learned was how to write an essay well. I know that this will be a tremendous help throughout the rest of high school and college. Probably my favorite part about my essay this year was how the TS and ToC in the second paragraph worked together. The second highlight from this year is the WOW Words. Increasing my grandpa’s vocabulary with new words has become a pastime. The third, but certainly not final, lesson that was helpful in improving my writing this year is the techniques. Bland paragraphs can be brought to life using techniques and Special Forces. Overall, I am extremely pleased with all of the knowledge that I have gained this year.