Multiple Meaning Words - Oh my!

One of the more challenging concepts we teach in second grade is multiple meaning words.  As the end of the year draws near, and I begin checking off skills and concepts from the standards list, I always fail at teaching this in a fun way that doesn't confuse my kiddos.  At first thought, the seems simple enough:  
bat vs. bat

The huge black bat flew toward my little sister and she ran out of the cave screaming. 

It was finally Alison's turn to bat.

Eureka, it's simple! Sometimes a word is a noun, and sometimes a word is a verb. *(Sometimes they are both nouns, but I've found that from this concrete viewpoint is a better place to start.)

In the minds of new readers, students who struggle with comprehension, or for our friends who are just beginning to speak English, understanding multiple meaning words can take on a whole new meaning! [I know it's pathetic, my love of puns. ;)]

Typically my students do a great job of understanding this idea on the surface.  With a mini-lesson and some examples, they understand that multiple meaning words exist.  They can identify them when I present them.  But when asking them to go any deeper, to compare meanings in context, they always struggle. 

To combat this, I created a literacy center.  If you know me, you know I don't use centers the traditional way because I have a Daily 5 classroom. But I like to use center activities whole group (usually in pairs) as guided and independent practice.

Here's what I did: I created a set of 'word cards' with a ton of multiple meaning words. Then, I created a set of 'part of speech' cards that say 'noun' and 'verb'.

I copied  them on two different colored card stock sheets.  Students placed the cards face-down, and chose one from each pile.  On their recording sheet, they wrote the word, part of speech, and a sentence in the correct context.  I monitored them as they worked and helped those who needed it. Overall, it was incredibly successful! Now that they know how to do it, I'll use it during Daily 5 Word Work

You can grab all the materials to do this yourself here!

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