During a trip to the fabulous NUEVA School near San Francisco recently, I got to visit a Grade 1 class that had begun a great investigation into homophones that I want to share with the Real Spellers community. Before you read about (and hopefully participate in!) this great investigation, may I humbly suggest that you click this link to watch the Real Spelling tutorial film “The Homophone Principle” from the extensive and rich Real Spelling Gallery.


I’ll let Emily Mitchell -- the Grade 1 teacher in question -- describe the adventure. I’ve attached some photos of the homophones they have discovered so far…


Homophone Project


Our homophone journey began innocently on September 8, 2013.  Each morning as part of our daily morning ritual, we share a “fun fact” about the date.  It was the eighth day of the month, and my fact for that day was that “ate” and “eight” are homophones.  This led to a classroom full of first graders raising their hands asking,  “What is a homophone?”  A homophone is defined as “each of two or more words having the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins, or spelling, e.g., new and knew.”  To most first graders, this definition would have been sufficient and followed by the next question of “when is recess?”  However, I have realized my first graders are quite unique!


The next day, one of my very curious students raised his hand and exclaimed: “Did you know that there are 441 homophones?!  Let’s find them all!”  The children were so excited and, as a class, decided this would become “our project.”  


Homephone pic 1    homophone 2 pic


Homophone tally



Months later, here we are, and I have realized that truly “a journey of a thousand miles does begin with a single step.” My students have embraced this challenge more than any one thing this year.  The true beauty has been the conversations that accompany the words they find.  If you truly pay attention, you find homophones are everywhere!  And, even though many words we discuss end up being homographs or homonyms, the class is so engaged and the students’ vocabularies have skyrocketed.  


We are committed to reaching our goal of 441 by June (we’re currently at 275), but as I have learned from Pete Bowers, I am not trusting the source that says 441 is all that is out there!


Emily has shared the current spreadsheet with the data base of homophones that they have collected so far. My hope is that teams of Real Spellers around the world will look for as yet un-identified homophones to add to the list. With the data base, you can search to see if any homophones you can think of are already found. Please post discoveries of new homophones in the comment section. Any stories about how you found it, or orthographic details you can add, are of course appreciated!


The idea that there are exactly 441 homophones is just an absurdity. So lets work to prove that we don’t just meet this number but surpass it!


Click here for the data base of homophones as of April 5, 2013 from Emily Mitchell's Grade 1s!