Lesson plan

Tricky Words

Your students won’t be tricked when they discover digital tools that help them spell homophones and plurals correctly. Your students will also learn about times when they shouldn’t take an automatic spelling suggestion on their devices!
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will spell challenging words such as homophones and irregular plurals.
  • Students will use digital and print resources, consulting references to spell words.
(5 minutes)
  • Invite students to sit in a circle.
  • Distribute an individual whiteboard and whiteboard marker to each student.
  • Walk around the circle and ask each student to pull out one word card.
  • Challenge the students to use that word in a sentence, writing it on their individual whiteboard.
(5 minutes)
  • Tell the students that some words are tricky because they have irregular or unique spellings. Emphasize the importance of using context to know how to spell certain words. Show the students the difference between common plural spellings (such as adding an -s to the word book to make books) and more complex plural words like changing octopus to octopi (and not adding an -s).
  • Show the students two word lists of homophones and irregular plurals. Tell the students that they can use word banks such as these to aid in spelling or they can use digital tools to spell these words correctly.
  • Using an interactive whiteboard, show the students how you can type a sentence in an online document using an incorrectly spelled homophone or plural. Draw their attention to the squiggly line that appears under misspelled words and show them how to correct the spelling.
  • Tell the students that sometimes they will need to decide whether to change the word using the suggestion and sometimes they need to override the suggestion. Explain that some words may be marked as incorrect because of the way the program is written. This is especially true with names, acronyms, and slang. The squiggle shows the user that the computer does not recognize the word.
  • Model this process again, as needed.
(5 minutes)
  • Divide the students into small groups with one device per group.
  • Tell the students that they will be working together to determine how their sentence needs to be changed. Should they follow the digital suggestion or override the change and keep the spelling?
  • Share the document with the table of sample sentences and show the students how to access it. Ask them to work as a group and decide on how the sentence should be changed.
  • Invite students to think of words that are similar to the ones listed on the table. Challenge students to write new sentences on the whiteboards and share their thinking with the rest of the class. What did they choose to change or leave unchanged?
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to complete the Spelling Squiggles worksheet.
  • Circulate the room and assist students as needed.


  • Challenge your students with some more difficult plural forms and homophones. Ask them to complete the Word Wizards worksheet.


  • If students have difficulty associating regular and irregular plurals with matching nouns, ask them to complete the Pondering Plurals worksheet.
  • Invite students to create word ladders for words that they continually struggle to spell. Ask the students to write the first letter on a line. Then, on the next line, ask the students to write the first letter plus the next letter. Continue adding a letter to each line until they have written the whole word.
  • Invite students to use a document or other form of media to color code the unique letters in tricky words. For example, in the word “children,” students can keep the letters “child” black but change the last part of the word, “ren” to a different color.
  • Instead of having students write their sentences on individual whiteboards, create a separate column on the document and ask students to type additional sentences in the space next to each column.
(5 minutes)
  • Write several tricky words on the board -- some spelled correctly and some spelled incorrectly. Allow students to use individual devices or word banks to correct spelling.
  • As you point to each word, ask students to stand if the word is spelled correctly. If the word is spelled incorrectly, invite students to remain seated and write the correct spelling on their whiteboards.
(5 minutes)
  • Invite students to participate in a spelling race with some tricky spelling words.
  • Divide students into groups of five or more.
  • Ask each group to sit in a row and put the paper at the left end of the row.
  • Tell the students that when you call out a word each student will write one letter and pass the paper and pen. If there are more letters than students, the paper will go back to the first person and rotate until the word is written. Whichever student completes the word stands up to show that they word has been written.
  • After playing the game, invite students to reflect on how they can use tools to spell words correctly.

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