Handling Homophones: How to teach “there, their and they’re” to struggling spellers

Homophones can be tricky for any writer, but for some dyslexic kids they can seem impossible to get right.

Another problem is that spell check doesn’t always help where homophones are concerned, especially on platforms like Facebook.

Add to that the stress that the grammar police (you know who I’m talking about. The know-it-all people who correct everything in front of everybody…as if your child doesn’t have self-esteem issues already) might point it out right there in your social world and it can be downright demoralizing. Well, heck, at least the grammar police look smart…alecky. Don’t get me wrong. A private message pointing out a mistake can be helpful. I know I appreciate them, but mention it on facebook and it can be damaging.

No wonder kids don’t write with words anymore, people don’t tend to correct the slang and acronyms that are so prevalent today…lol.

Anyway, I decided to write a few articles that address the way I help my kids keep their homophones straight so  they can be more confident writing with real words. If you are interested, here is a cool website dedicated to homophones.


The first set of homophones I am going to address are 

                                            there, their and they’re

1. There

Because the word “here” is so common I find the word “there” is the best starting place for conquering this group of homophones.

Step One – I begin by pointing out that there is a smaller word hidden in the word “there”. Then, using two colors write the word on a dry erase board as follows:


Step Two – I then explain that both the words “there” and “here” represent position or place. Demonstrate this by writing the following sentence:

“I am standing here but I want to go there.

Step Three – Then the student is asked to draw a map with a beginning location, a short road, and a destination. He labels the first point “I am here”, He writes along the road “but I want to go” and at the final location he labels it “there”.

Step Four – Finally, I give a few more examples of how “there” is used:

There is a full moon tonight. 

I am planning to be there later.

Are there enough cars to take everyone to camp?


2. Their


Step One – Time for a vocabulary lesson.

What is an heir?

According to Dictionary.com, an heir is defined as follows:


a person who inherits or has a right of inheritance in the property of another following the latter’s death.
Or in a child’s words:
An heir is a person who will get what belonged to another person after they die.
Example: Great Uncle Buddy Bob and Great Auntie Betty Sue have a son and daughter named Benny Bob and June.  Great Uncle Buddy Bob and Great Auntie Betty Sue make Benny Bob and June their heirs. Benny Bob and June will be the ones who will get what had belonged to Great Uncle Buddy Bob and Great Auntie Betty Sue when they die.

Step Two – Now I point out that a smaller word, “heir”,  hidden in the word “their”.  Using two colors the word is written on the dry erase board as follows:


Step Three – I then explain that these are both words representing possession (something that belongs to someone) and demonstrate by writing the following sentence:

“The Smiths left their heir, their house.”


Step Three – Finally, Give a few more examples of how “their” is used:

 I like their new puppy.  Ask – Whose puppy? (their)

Their window is broken. Ask – Whose window? (their)

How many children are in their family? Ask – Whose family? (their)

3. They’re

Teaching this word is a bit different since it actually represents a combination of two words in the form of a contraction. I use letters drawn on squares made from 4” x 6” cards.

Step One – Give the student cards for building the words “they” and “are”.

they are  cropped


Step Two – Have the student push the letters together to make one long misspelled word “theyare”

theyare 250


Step Three – Give the student a card with the contraction “they’re”

Give the student a square with an apostrophe on it and have him cover the letter that can not be seen in the contraction (the “a”).

They're cropped

Step Four – Give some practice sentences.

Tell your child that you are going to read a sentence and they are supposed to say the sentence back to you replacing the words “they and are” with “they’re.

They are very hungry: (They’re very hungry.)

Ask them if they are ready to go: (Ask them if they’re ready to go.)

They are holding the box: (They’re holding the box.)

For students who struggle with recall it may be best to only cover one of these homophones at a time until it is mastered then be sure to review previous words when you move on to new words.

Since writing the original post I have created a printable pdf to help teach this lesson. you can GET IT HERE.


Has this been helpful? Let me know in the comments. And share your best strategies for teaching homophones with us so we can build a cache of available teaching aids for each other.     And…..

Be watching for the next installment of Handling Homophones coming soon. In fact,  SIGN UP for our newsletter and you will be sure not to miss it. Do it NOW!


Newsletter sign up AHWD

Related Articles:

Robin Liner is a wife, and veteran homeschool mom with over twenty years experience. She has written two picture books and actively blogs about homeschooling with an emphasis on teaching dyslexic children at crazygoodreaders.wordpress.com. and athomewithdyslexia.com Feel free to contact her at robin@crazygoodreaders.com

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

1 Comment

  1. CaseyFAquilera

    Thanks to my father who informed me about this weblog, this website is really awesome.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *