Lesson plan

Homograph Riddles

In this lesson, students will solve homograph riddles and create their own riddles for peers to solve. These engaging activities will increase their repertoire of homographs.
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Students will be able to write and solve homograph riddles, and use homographs correctly in a sentence.

(2 minutes)
  • Write the following homograph riddles on the board and read them aloud to students:
    • I am a word that means the place where you wash your hands or the opposite of "float." What word am I?
    • I am a word that means the sound a dog makes to communicate or the outside part of a tree trunk. What word am I?
  • Tell students to guess the answer to the riddles and share with an elbow partner. Then, call on a few students to share their answers aloud to the class.
  • Inform students that this type of word is called a homograph. A homograph is a word that is spelled the same but has multiple meanings.
(8 minutes)
  • Tell students that today they will learn about homographs, and write homograph riddles for each other to solve.
  • Tell students that we can often tell the homographs apart using context clues. The rest of the sentence helps us make sense of which homograph the author means.
  • Write the title "Homographs" on a piece of chart paper and create two columns. On the left column, write the homograph (e.g., "back"), and on the other column, write the two definitions (to go in reverse, or the part of our body where the spine is). Invite students to think of other homographs they know and write the definitions with students' ideas on the chart. Some examples include bat, dove, desert, mean, jam, foot, bright.
(10 minutes)
  • Pass out the Homographs worksheet and go through the first two riddles with the students, pausing to give them thinking time, before calling on students to take a guess.
  • Have students pair up to complete the rest of the worksheet while you circulate the room, and assist students who need help.
(20 minutes)
  • Hand out an index card to each student and instruct them to write one to three homograph riddles on one side of the card. They may use the homograph chart generated earlier in the lesson. Remind them to write clues for each meaning of the homograph as modeled on the worksheet (e.g., "a stone made of mineral material or a forward and backward motion").
  • Distribute the whiteboards and markers to students.
  • Once all students have written one or more riddles, tell them to read one of their riddles aloud, while the rest of the class listens, and writes the answer to the riddle on their whiteboards. Instruct students to raise their whiteboards for the student who wrote the riddle to confirm the answer.
  • Then, request one student to use one or both meanings of the homograph in a sentence.
  • Continue this activity until all students have shared at least one of their riddles.


  • Use the book The Dove Dove: Funny Homograph Riddles by Marvin Terban (see related media) as a support to expose students to more homograph riddles.


  • Students can complete the exercise on homographs and homophones on a tablet or computer (see optional materials) for further practice.
(5 minutes)
  • Instruct students to write two sentences (one for each meaning) on the back of their index card of the homograph they wrote their riddle on. Use this as their exit ticket to check for understanding, both in terms of the quality of their riddle and the sentences.
(5 minutes)
  • Have students reflect on today's lesson by asking them to show on their hand their level of understanding of homographs. Five fingers indicate they understand the lesson's content, and zero fingers means they do not grasp the concept. Evaluate students' self reflection through the show of hands to determine the next steps in teaching this subject.

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