There are words like bark and bark. A dog can bark and a tree has bark on its trunk.
We can hold a soup can but we can jump and skip.
A fair can be a place to see enjoy rides. We should be fair in how we treat each other.
The first step in helping our early learners pay attention to these confusing words is to heighten our own awareness about them. Sometimes these are so ingrained in our everyday speech that we forget these can be puzzling for children - and as mentioned this is something that needs explicit teaching for English learners.
After we identify those words that can bewilder children, we can discuss these words as they are encountered in speech and books. We should point out these words and have children act out the differences. These little skits can be a source of laughter, which makes the word differences easily remembered for children.
You can also show pictures depicting the differences and have children "teach" one another about these differences. When we are responsible for explaining something, the learning is active and memorable.
Of course, a final step is to have children draw their own pictures. Give each child a large piece of paper, divide it in half, and ask children to draw the two meanings. You can print out the words (like can) and children can glue them to their art. This means families can learn along with children!
NAEYC - 2.B.01 & 2.D.04
Head Start - VI.A. & IX.A.
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