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Five Tips for To, Two, and Too From Language Lady



Start By Teaching the Numeral Two. 

This seems simple enough, but I am amazed at the programs that teach homophones in large groups or even with all of a word’s “confusing counterparts” to first grade students. 

The beauty of starting with TWO is that children as young as kindergarten are writing their first five or ten numbers in word form in their math books, penmanship programs, and spelling curriculum. (Yikes! Spelling programs for young students with spelling words based on common meanings {i.e. number words, beach words, food words, etc.} are not optimal.) However, young students who are non-readers have seen the word TWO quite often by kindergarten or first grade. 


 When You Teach TO, Start With It as a Preposition. 

Have students learn that the word TO often shows position and comes before a THING. (Don’t worry about the technical terms of prepositions and nouns yet unless student is familiar with them.) This way, they can practice TO with phrases and short sentences–to the store, to town, to Mom, etc.

When you put TWO and TO together, do not use phrases for students to practice. It is rarely a good idea to teach parts of speech with phrases or words only. Parts of speech show FUNCTIONS of words within sentences. Thus, having students circle all of the verbs in a list of words is a VERY bad idea (ring, text, bike, watch, play—nouns AND verbs!). So…with the TWO and TO practice, have students fill in the blank or circle TWO or TO in sentences for practice. 



Teach Tricks for Too for Older Students.

The word TOO can mean in excess (too much, too many, etc.) or in addition to (also). You can tell students that TOO means in excess when it has TOO many O’s!

Older students may be helped with the trick that AlsO has two vowels–and tOO has two vowels. (Whenever using tricks or mnemonics, if that trick is more confusing or not helpful to the student, drop the trick rather than causing further confusion.)



Teach TO as the Beginning of an Infinitive (Verb) as Soon as Possible. 

When I start to teach second and third grade students simple preposition lists, rhymes, mnemonics, jingles, songs, and check sentences, I teach TO as the beginning of an infinitive right away. The purpose of learning those lists of prepositions is to spot prepositional phrases. The purpose of spotting prepositional phrases is to determine what a sentence’s subject and verb are. (The main subject and main verb are seldom found in a prepositional phrase.) 

Students are tripped up immediately in spotting prepositional phrases because of infinitives (to+verb). If we teach that TO is a preposition when it has a thing following it but is a special verb called an infinitive when it has a verb following it (to run, to jump, to be, etc.), they will be less confused when they encounter these (even if it takes a while at first to get used to looking beyond the TO for a thing or a verb). 



Divide Practice for These Into Two Steps. 

First of all, have students practice writing V for Verb or P for Preposition beside infinitives and prepositional phrases that are bold fonted in sentence. You want to do the chunking of these for them. (Don’t ask students to do too many skills all at the same time–start with just telling whether each one is a V or a P in sentences such as The girl went to the store and The boy wanted to jump longer. 

Once the numeral TWO, the adverb (usually) TOO, and both TO’s are mastered, bring them together for final practice within sentences. (When they are all three together, I just have students fill in the blanks with the correct TWO, TOO, or TO—not tell each one’s function or type).  However, I continue to practice TO as a preposition and TO as an infinitive on into junior high in my books. It can be very confusing and elaborate in lengthy sentences. 

Thanks for Joining Donna to Learn About Grammar and Writing!

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Resources for this Slide

1. Start By Teaching the Numeral Two

2. When You Teach TO, Start With It as a Preposition:

3. Teach Tricks for Too for Older Students: Learn how to use all kinds of Tricky Tricks to teach—

4. Teach TO as the Beginning of an Infinitive (Verb) as Soon as Possible:

5. Divide Practice for These Into Two Steps:

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