Handling Homophones Part 2: How to teach “to, too and two” to Struggling Spellers

Did you know that many dyslexic people think in pictures?

I asked my son about this and he admitted that he does in fact see pictures when he thinks of words. Even words that seem almost meaningless to me. I mean, what do you see in your mind when you hear the word, “what”? My 17 year old son sees a person holding up his hands in a questioning stance. My 10 year old son sees a giant question mark.

I’m thinking, “why don’t I see anything?” Seriously, there is nothing. Nada.

But since my guys do think this way I figured I owed it to them to come up with something that could help them distinguish between confusing spellings for words like these. I recently wrote the first post in a series on “Handling Homophones: How to Teach ‘there, their and they’re’ to Struggling Readers.

The aforementioned homophones are some more of those picturesque words for my sons that are literal ‘no-visual-brainers’ to me.

Hence, this week’s post. I want to give some tips for helping your student remember the differences between the homophones: too, two & to.

Let’s Get Started with the first homophone:


Begin with a definition:

Definition#1    too – it means to have more than is desirable, permissible, or possible.

Here is an example:

 You put too much salt in those cookies.


Step 1

Tell your student to look at the spelling of the word too and say this, “It looks like you have too many -o’s in the word ‘too’, but you don’t.” Give your student tiles or paper squares with the letters -t, -o, and -o written on them. Have them build the word too and point out there is another -o after the first -o. This will be the transition into the other meaning that goes with this spelling.

Begin with a definition:

Definition – # 2  too – it sometimes means “also”, which means ‘ in addition to… 

Here is an example:

I have a bike, too.


Step 2

Tell your student that when the word “too” means more than you need or in addition to something, you should add one more -o. This spelling is the only spelling that makes sense phonetically. Point this out. Two o’s is too many to make the long or short vowel sound, so it says ‘oo’.

Let’s move on to the second homophone:


This is the spelling for the number 2, so let’s think in mathematical terms. Write the word -two on a white board or piece of paper. Say this, “What is the middle letter of this word?” They should answer double- u. Give them two cards, each with a -v written at the edge so when pushed together, they make a double- u …You can also use blank tiles written with dry or wet erase markers (see the picture). I used the backs of Bananagrams.

 Teaching two

Step 1

Ask them, “How many -v’s make a double- u?” They should answer two.  Ask your student to push the two -v’s together (be sure to emphasize the word “two”).

Tell your student that when they need to write the word for the number two, just remember that the second letter is the double- u  made with two -v’s.

To reinforce this one more time write the word two on the board or paper, and ask your child to place a dot inside each -v and count the dots. An older child may not need any reinforcement, but these homophones are so common for emerging readers and spellers that a little extra practice may be helpful. See the visual above.

Here is an example:

I gave two apples to my teacher. 

Now to the final homophone:

 This is the most commonly used form of this homophone

It is a preposition that represents a transfer of ownership, location, etc.

Here are some examples:

I gave the ball to Bob.

Let’s go to the store.


Step… well, the only step –

The best way to know the correct spelling for one of these words in a sentence is by process of elimination. If the meaning is not more than needed or also, which has too many -o’s; and it doesn’t mean the number two, which has the double-u; then it will be spelled with one -o.

Finally, to review all of the homophones of “too, two & to”,  give a few fill in the blank sentences.  Each of the following sentences uses all of the spellings. When your child forgets which word to use in a writing project try to help them remember the clues and fix the spelling themselves.

  1. (Two) hamburgers are (too) many (to) give such a little boy.

  2. Those (two) boxes are (too) heavy (to) lift.

  3. May I have (two) flowers (to) give to my mom, (too)?

Get a FREE printable worksheet HERE.


Find out if your struggling reader/speller see pictures in their minds. Then create ways to give them something visual that will help them remember how to spell these frustrating words. Not only will multi-sensory activities make them more likely to have better recall, but they will also, be more engaged (have more fun) with learning.


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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

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1 Comment

  1. DarellTBrunsvold

    Awesome article.


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