February 2, 2014

Must Read Mentor Text: Homophones vs. Homonyms

I'm linking up once again with Stacia and Amanda of Collaboration Cuties for their weekly Must Read Mentor Text linky party.

I always look forward to the first Sunday of the month because this linky focuses on Language Arts mentor texts. I teach in a departmentalized school, and this is my area of concentration so I'm always on the lookout for new mentor texts.

This week I'm sharing a book that I've had on my shelf for years but never actually used as a mentor text until this school year. I actually have quite a few similar books as a set that I simply display for the students to read when we would focus on work skills.

My fifth graders were in need of studying homophones again. They were still confused by some of the more tricky ones so I created a list of twenty to use as their spelling words. Three weeks later we are still studying these words. Not because they haven't mastered them but because of the polar vortex. We will finish them up this week... finally!

When we first began our study one of the boys asked me the question, "What's the difference between a homophone and a homonym?" He had heard both terms used interchangeably and was curious. We quickly consulted both the hard copy dictionary in our room and one online and soon discovered conflicting definitions so we expanded our search. Apparently the linguistic experts can not quite agree. Some say that the two terms are interchangeable while others state differing definitions. To help us with our quest, I remembered this book, pulled it from the shelf, and immediately shared it with the class.

by Nancy Loewen
The bright illustrations caught their attention while the simple sentence structure was easy to remember and connect with. Silly sentences caused ripples of laughter and helped the students remember key ideas, and the simple, concise expository text is easily comprehended by even the youngest of language learners.

Best of all, we were able to answer my student's question:
If you were a homonym, you would be pronounced and spelled the same as another word, but you would have a different meaning. If you were a homophone, you would be pronounced the same as another word, but you would have a different spelling and a different meaning. Learn the difference between these two tricky concepts... Amazon.com
Again and again my fifth graders are returning to this text as they work with their spelling words, especially as they are puzzling out the difference between your and you're and their, there, and they're. The current assignment (to be collected on Monday) is for them to write sentences in which they use homophone pairs/triplets from their list, in the style of the writing from the mentor text...

She ate eight jars of jam while waiting in the traffic jam.
They're riding their bikes over there.

There were lots of giggles on Friday afternoon as they began their work. I'm anxious to see what they come up with, and if they have mastered these tricky words. Ms. Murphy is teaching their language lessons this week (she has an observation late in the week) so I will not be able to close the homophone lesson as I would've liked (darn that polar vortex). However, I did whip up a quick interactive notebook item to help them do a little more practice distinguishing homonyms and homophones. If you'd like a copy you can download it HERE or by clicking on the graphic below.

Students should color the material, then cut out the pockets and word strips. They should glue the pockets into their notebooks, leaving the tops open. They then should sort the word strips into the correct pocket based on the type of word each is. An answer key is included.

Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


  1. How cute!! I haven't seen this book but it looks fun!! Your homophone and homonym pockets are too cute! Thanks for linking up!
    Collaboration Cuties

  2. Thanks so much for sharing! I have seen this series of texts on amazon and have never ordered. I must now... Just found your blog today through the linky and am a new follower!

    Sarah @ Hoots N' Hollers

  3. This book looks great and it's a new one for me! Every year I have students that have trouble with your and you're and there, their, and they're...it drives me crazy! I tell them I won't accept pictures that say Mrs. Miller, your the best! LOL!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching


Leave a little message and let me know you've visited!