TWO TOO Many Owls TO Count on TUEsday (TwosDay, 2-22-22)

To, Two, Too: A Homophone Quadruple Play

I, like many of you, am loving the fact that February 22, 2022, falls on a Tuesday. The thought of all those twos together makes my hyper-organized, pattern-loving heart just go pitter-patter. And what better way to celebrate a day of twos than with a homophone activity all about two…or to…or too…

When I first dreamed up this activity, the concept of TwosDay had not been realized yet, at least by me. I was simply thinking about random teacher things and for some reason to-two-too was stuck in my head (probably because I was working on a lesson about its/it’s). For some reason this lead to thoughts of owls and the whoo-whoo sound they make (at least in English) and how who rhymes with too. I’ll spare you the full description of my convoluted thoughts and just say that the end result was this owl-themed quadruple play activity practicing distinguishing between the usage of to, two, and too. In the interest of full disclosure, I do have slight feelings of guilt related to the theme of this particular activity. While I do appreciate the sound-play of the rhyming too-whoo situation, as an ESL teacher I find it a little cruel to do this to language students. Animals make different sounds in different languages and owls do not say too in English. While I recognize this could be a little confusing for learners, I finally decided it was not a huge problem and went with it.

Each of the sentences is about owls, most featuring interesting facts. Some of the sentences are:

  • Owls are nocturnal, that means they go _______ bed when the sun comes up.
  • We refer _______ a group of owls as a parliament.
  • There are around 200 species of owls. That’s a _______ with _____ zeros after it.
  • Our aviary has parrots, cockatoos, and owls, ________.
  • Many owls have ears that are located at _______ different heights on their heads.

There are 24 different sentences in total and I had a lot of fun learning about owls while writing them.

We spend a lot of time practicing homophones in my classes, and we do a lot of different activities with task cards. Since every class is different, and no class likes to do the same activity over and over again, I typically make my task card sets into what I call quadruple play activities. I explained this in an earlier post, but I’ll give you a quick run-down of my students’ four favorite ways to use task cards here as well.

  1. Slap– I use heavy duty magnets to attach large signs with the answer choices on the board. Students are divided into two teams and each team is given a fly swatter. One person from each team stands in front of the board, fly swatter in head. I read one of the sentences (or display it via the doc cam) and the students race to be the first person to slap the correct word to complete the sentence. The winner gains a point for his/her team and the fly swatters are passed to new team members.
  2. Response Cards– Each student is given small cards with the answer choices on them. I read one of the sentences (usually displaying it via the doc cam again) aloud. All of the students then hold up their choice for the correct word to complete the sentence. This is a great way for me to quickly assess which students understand the concept and which need a little more help. What I particularly love is the quieter students are included as well, yet do not have to face the anxiety of “performing” in front of the group. A little tip: tell students not to hold up their cards until you give a signal. This prevents students from simply copying the answer of early responders.
  3. Scoot / Task Cards– There are a variety of ways to use task cards, but the two most popular are card scoot or student scoot. In card scoot, each student is given a recording sheet and one task card. The students then record their answer for that particular card in the correct square of the recording sheet, passing the card to the next student when finished. Alternatively, my students like to just pile the entire set in the center of the table, grab one, record the answer, and exchange it for another from the pile (this means I need one set of cards for each group of 4-6 students, rather than a single set for the entire class, but it works well). In student scoot, cards are hung up or scattered around the room. Students carry their recording sheet with them as they wander, writing down their answers as they find the various cards around the room. Student scoot is a great way to incorporate movement into your day but does require a little more in the way of classroom management. I also recommend giving students clipboards on which to brace their papers or some may be returned with holes in them.
  4. Clip Cards– This is a good way to use task cards in a center. Place the cards and a basket of clothes pins in the center. Students use the clothes pins to indicate which word will correctly complete each sentence. They can check one another’s work or you can provide them with an answer key in a folder to check themselves.

These four activities are far from the only ways we use task cards in my class (someday I’ll have to do an entire post with various ways to use task cards), but they are the most popular. As I tell my students, unfortunately the only way to learn the various homophones is through practice–but that doesn’t mean the practice has to be boring. Here’s to a creative and fun TwosDay! Happy teaching, everyone!

Need other homophone activities? There may not be a “perfect” date for these other homophone sets, but learning to distinguish between them is necessary anyway.

Your vs. You’re

Their vs. There vs. They’re

Are vs. Our vs. Hour

Whose vs. Who’s

Its vs. It’s

Mixed Practice

Homophone Practice Bundle: Multiple Sets, 20% Discount