Lesson 4: use of homophones (developing morphological knowledge)

Links to the Victorian Curriculum – English

Level 4:

  • Recognise homophones and know how to use context to identify correct spelling (VCELA296)

Links to the Victorian Curriculum – English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Pathway B

Reading and viewing

Level BL:

Level B1:

  • Identify common syllables and patterns within words (VCEALL288)

Level B2:

  • Apply knowledge of letter–sound relationships to read new words with some support (VCEALL368)

Level B3:

  • Apply knowledge of letter–sound relationships to deduce the pronunciation of new words (VCEALL447)


Level BL:

  • Spell a number of high-frequency words accurately (VCEALL237)

Level B1:

  • Spell accurately common words encountered in the classroom (VCEALL318)

Level B2:

  • Spell frequently used words with common patterns with increased accuracy (VCEALL398)

Level B3:

  • Spell most words accurately, drawing on a range of strategies but with some invented spelling still evident (VCEALL477)

Theory/practice connections

Homophones (from homo- meaning same + phone meaning sound) are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

There are many homophones in the English language and these are often misspelt or misused in students’ writing. It is important to always consider homophones within the context of a sentence or a clause “because context determines the meaning and spelling of homophones” (Snowball & Bolton, 11999: 141).

Students can be encouraged and guided to investigate the use of different homophones in their reading and writing. 

Learning intentions

We are learning that some words sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. These words are called homophones. 

Success Criteria

I understand that some words (for example, they’re, their and there) sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.

I know how to spell some homophones depending on the meaning they have in a group of words.

Role of the writer

Text encoder – knowing how to spell homophones depending on context.

Group size

Whole class, or small group (4-6 students).

Lesson sequence

  1. Reread the page of information text ‘Koala’ to or with students during a shared reading session. This text might be part of a Science inquiry around animal adaptation.
  2.  Ask students to write down a list of words dictated from the text – one, tail, their, four, male, scent.
  3. Discuss whether students had difficulty spelling these words and ask why. Say, some words sound the same but are spelled differently. Introduce the word homophones to describe this set of words.
  4. Ask students what would help them know which way to spell these words. Talk about the idea that we need to know which meaning these words have before we can spell them.
  5. Write each of the homophones in the text on a reference chart including all spellings. Put each homophone in a sentence to show meaning.’ For example:
    • Koalas … usually eat from less than 10 species [of gum leaves] in their local area.
    • They’re (they are) one of the most popular marsupials in Australia.
    • The koalas sleep up there in the branches of the gum trees.
  6. Divide students into three groups with individual students deciding which of the three homophones they will investigate. In subsequent shared, guided and independent reading sessions, students find and record examples of their homophone in use.
    • Koalas usually get their water from leaves and dew.
  7. After one or two weeks, bring students back together to share their findings. Invite students to make generalisations and ask questions about the use of each of the homophones.
  8. Record some of the students’ generalisations on a chart. For example:
    • They’re means they are and it is usually followed by a verb; they’re coming to our place for lunch.
  9. Ask students to talk and write about their understandings of homophones in their spelling journals. Students might even write mnemonics or memory tips to help them spell the homophones, for example:
    • THERE includes the word “HERE,” so it is about place.
  10. Encourage students to think about the correct use of homophones in their writing across the curriculum.


Students are given choice about which homophone to investigate. Small group work provides some scaffolding to group members.