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Multiple Ways to Teach Multiple Meaning Words in 2nd Grade

Grammar, Literacy, Writing & Language

Written by: Katie Palmer

Hey teacher friends! It is time for our next installment in our grammar blog post series. This post focuses on multiple meaning words: What are they? Why teach them? How to teach them? Read on for tips, tricks and resources that will help cement this skill with your students.

What are Multiple Meaning Words?

Multiple meaning words are just what they sound like: words with multiple meanings. Sometimes called homonyms, these words have the same spelling, sound alike but have different meanings. Check out the chart below for just a few examples.

multiple meaning words reference chart
Download this chart HERE

Now are you wondering, “Why teach students this skill?” Learning about multiple meaning words can deepen students comprehension. If they know more meanings of a word, they can understand what they read better, rather than trying to apply a single meaning to a word each time they read it. Also, it enlarges their vocabulary bank.

Strategies & Resources

The following strategies and resources are great for giving students practice with multiple meaning words. We have grouped them into whole group, small group and independent practice activities.

Whole Group

There are SO many fun ways to teach this skill. Here are just a few!

1) Videos & Songs

Multiple Meaning Words by Samantha Daehling

This cute video gives several examples!

Homophones by GoNoodle

Everyone loves learning from Blazer Fresh and their good beats!

3) Free Flashcards

A great introduction to multiple meaning words is flash cards. Here is a FREE SET from k5 Learning.

Flashcards lesson idea:

  • Teacher holds up a card, bark for example. Say, “I know this word. It is bark. What does this word mean?”
  • Have a student raise their hand and give a meaning. If they say, “The noise a dog makes.”, then the teacher says, “What?? I thought it means the covering on trees?!”
  • Let the class think on and discuss that for a minute, then say, “Wait, maybe the word bark has more than one meaning?”
  • Once the class agrees, say, “It is important to know all the meanings of a word. That way, when you are reading, your brain can choose the right meaning for each word to help you understand your story better.”
  • Repeat with another flashcard, but this time calling on two students to give the two (or more) different meanings.

4) Books

Introducing a grammar skill using a picture book is a super engaging strategy. Here are two great recommendations for teaching multiple meaning words:

How Much Can Bare Bear Bear? by Brian P. Cleary

Watch it here:

Check it out on Amazon:

Dear Deer by Gene Barretta

Watch it here:

Check it out on Amazon:

Small Group & Independent Practice

Now that the skill has been introduced whole group it is time to practice in small groups and independently. The following activities would work great for students to complete independently OR in small group. Small group is a great option for students who are struggling to understand the skill.

1) M & M’s Activity

This first activity was is a FREE resource from a 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Russ. Simply print an M&M pair worksheet for each student, have them write each of their homonym meanings in a sentence, one on each M&M. This is a great independent activity.

M&M Pair worksheet to define bare and bear

2) Lucky Little Learner’s Resources

If you are ready to teach this skill, Lucky Little Learners has multiple resources for it! Here are our favorite resources for teaching multiple meaning words!

a. Grammar Centers

The Grammar Centers bundle has a center focusing on multiple meaning words, as well as 40+ other printable & digital grammar skill centers. To best use this resource, introduce it whole group before shifting it to an independent activity. The “Unlock The Meaning” center will have students thinking deep about word meanings.

unlock the meanings in which kids practice reading and sorting multiple meaning words

Read about it here: Grammar Center Activities for 2nd Grade

2 Ways to Get This Resource

Join All Access to download everything we've ever made.

toothy task kits

Or... Purchase the bundle in our shop.

toothy task kits
b. Multiple Meaning Words Toothy

As teachers know, students LOVE toothy! Why not use it for multiple meaning words?! Yep, Lucky Little Learners has you covered!

Read more about grammar toothy here and score a FREEBIE toothy set: Free Grammar Toothy Activity!

2 Ways to Get This Resource

Join All Access to download everything we've ever made.

toothy task kits

Or... Purchase the bundle in our shop.

toothy task kits
c. Grammar Day-by-Day

Grammar Day-by-Day is one of my favorite LLL resources! Why? They are NO PREP and cover 40 different grammar skills! Teachers can use them in any order that works for their curriculum or class needs. Plus, there is a week featuring JUST multiple meaning words!

a week of daily warm ups to practice multiple meaning words

Read more about Grammar Day-by-Day(and try it for FREE) here: Daily Grammar Practice Freebie

2 Ways to Get This Resource

Join All Access to download everything we've ever made.

toothy task kits

Or... Purchase the bundle in our shop.

toothy task kits

How to Teach Other 2nd Grade Grammar Skills

If you liked this post, check out all of our amazing grammar skills posts!

Happy teaching!


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