1. Grammar Tip — Homophones
  2. Writing Tip — Writing Prompt for Thanksgiving

1 - Grammar Tip — Homophones
by Elizabeth Kamath

Homophones (or homonyms) are tricky for many people. Often adults even struggle with them. One reason for this is that English has multitudes. Some we encounter on a daily basis (to/too/two), while others are rare (you/ewe/yew). Also, we’re often taught to simply remember them, rather than using aids that our brains can latch onto.

I recommend using mnemonics whenever possible to teach children homophones. A mnemonic is simply a pattern or association to help remember something. If you learned to read music, you may remember that the spaces in the treble clef spelled FACE and the lines were the first letters of Every Good Boy Does Fine. Those are two of the most common mnemonics.

How to apply this to homophones? Let’s take to and too (two is rarely confused with its brethren). One definition of too is also. So you can show your child that too has one o, and another o also. Too can also be used to mean excessively. Point out that it has too many o’s. Those two mnemonics cover the definitions of too, which means in any other instance, you will use the word to.

Let’s try another pair – here and hear. You hear with your ear (which is contained in hear). That was too easy, so let’s try a tricky trio rather than a pair – pair, pear, and pare. Sometimes you must get creative. For example, your child could imagine a pair of wings in the air. Or they could picture themselves with a pear in their ear. (Often the more bizarre the image, the better it works.) Pare is a more uncommon word, but the remembered question, “When are you going to pare your nails?” can help.

As I said, there are many homophones in English, way too many for me to cover in this brief tip. But it’s better if you and your child develop your own. They will be more memorable that way. And you don’t need a mnemonic for each one anyway. Just devise them for those homophones your child struggles with. Eye hope ewe have enjoyed this brief look at homophones. Sew long four now!

2 - Writing Tip — Writing Prompt for Thanksgiving
by Elizabeth Kamath

Sometimes children who are intimidated by writing papers take more easily to the idea of writing a list. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to write a list of everything (and everyone) your child is thankful for.

If you’re feeling really crafty, cut leaves or turkey feathers out of the construction paper. Make sure the leaves or feathers are big enough for your child to easily write on. Cut out a trunk for the tree (or body for the turkey) and write, “I am thankful for …” on it. Give your child the leaves or feathers, and the instruction to write one thing or person they’re thankful for on each.

Younger children and reluctant writers can write single-word answers (“family,” “horses,” “summer”). Encourage older children to describe their choices in ways that make other people understand why they’re grateful for them (“a family who has fun together,” “our strong, beautiful horses,” “summers filled with swimming and lemonade”).

They don’t need to write them all at once. Do one a day over the week or so before Thanksgiving, and add each leaf or feather to watch the tree or turkey grow. It’s also fine to just have your child keep a simple handwritten list or one on the computer. Regardless of the method, children can share them when everyone sits down to Thanksgiving Dinner. Happy Holidays!


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