You Can Animate Two Homophones, Too!

Victoria Olson / Grade 7 & ADST Teacher / British Columbia, Canada / Class of 2015

Help students understand the difference between homophones by creating animations that show their meanings with this fun Keynote activity! 


The words "BLUE" and "BLEW" are hand-drawn on a Keynote slide. A blue animated crayon is colouring in the word "BLUE."


Students mixing up homophones has been a constant challenge to overcome in my middle years classroom. In the past, I’ve had them illustrate the meanings of each word in their Writer’s Notebooks so they could cement which words were which (but not witch 😉).

This lesson takes the illustration idea a step further by having students animate the meanings of each word using Keynote. With tools such as drawing, text, builds, and actions, students solidify their knowledge of their homophone pair while also developing an understanding of the different factors that go into creating and sequencing an animation. They have an opportunity to play with multimedia tools while integrating appropriate timing and considering how their media will work together on the slide.

The Process

When creating my project sample, I first developed a title page for the series. The intention for this that students would be able to use it as a working example for understanding build animations. They could play with the existing visuals and animations on the page to see the impact of their changes and to become familiar with how to add and edit them. They could then make them their own, and adjust the visuals to fit their own content.


Homophone Explorations title page open in Keynote editor mode with Build Order visible
Giving students an existing animation such as a title page will help them to explore how the Build Order menu works

I then drew the elements I would need for each of the homophone visuals. I chose to do these on a separate slide from where my animation would take place to prevent clutter. After I created each element on the separate slide, I copied and pasted it to the main slide I was going to create the animation on. This also meant that if I made an error of some kind, I could retrieve the copy of the untouched element and start over. Of course, they can be drawn on the same slide as well. I would like to share the caveat that if you want your drawings to be separate elements in your animation, you will need to make sure each drawing is completed far enough apart from the others and moved into place afterward. This will prevent them from automatically grouping together with another drawing on the slide.

For the word BLUE, the drawn elements included two copies of the lettering - one blank and one coloured - as well as a blue crayon. For the word BLEW, this included one copy of the lettering - with all letters as separate elements - and wind lines and a few leaves. My intention with keeping each letter as a separate element for BLEW was that I wanted to use the “jiggle” animation for each letter to shake as the wind “blew” across the screen. You could also use text, shapes, or images as elements instead of hand-drawing each component (or you could do a mix!). 

Working in the Keynote editor, drawings of leaves and wind are on a slide to illustrate the word "blew"
Creating drawings on separate slides then copying to your animation slide can be helpful in keeping your drawings as separate elements

Once all of the elements were developed, it was time to play with animations! I first started with building each word onto the screen, separated by a line. This would help ground the context for the viewer that a direct comparison of the homophone meanings was about to take place. 

For BLUE, I added in a build to bring the crayon into frame and used the Motion Path action to simulate colouring the lettering across the screen. I coordinated this with the timing of the coloured letters being built in, using the Wipe build and ensuring it entered from the same direction as the crayon was “colouring” in.

I completed this entire animation first, as it was the top word on the screen and I wanted each word’s animation to occur separately so the audience could fully focus on each one.

For BLEW, I used the Wipe build to have the wind illustration “blow in” from left to right. Once the wind “hit” the letters, I added the Jiggle Action to each letter, staggered slightly to show the wind hitting them each in succession. The leaves were positioned off the screen to the left and I used the Motion Path and Rotate actions to “blow” them across the screen. I ensured the “Align to Path” option was turned on so that they really appeared to be turning and blowing in the wind! 

The most challenging part of the homophone task is nailing down the timing of the actions, especially if you have any that work simultaneously. Don’t be afraid to press the Play button when editing the animations to grab a preview and then adjust, without ever leaving the editing screen! The Build Order menu in the Animation screen is also a helpful tool in viewing and editing your animations.

When you finally get the order and timing down, it is incredible to see your final animation bring your chosen homophones to life!

When you are ready to export your movie, you can choose the “skip slide” option to hide the extra slides where you created your various drawn elements. Select “Export” from the drop-down menu beside your Keynote title, and then choose “Movie.” Adjust the settings to preference and then save your video to your Photos to share and enjoy!


Keynote editor is open with a slide selected to demonstrate the "Skip Slide" feature.
When you are ready to export, use the “Skip Slide” option on your drafting slides. You can do this by navigating to the slide thumbnail and then tapping once more to open the editing menu.


The Motion Path animation editor is open in Keynote with the working slide in the background.
When you choose “Align to Path” your element twists and turns with your hand-drawn animation path!


A Keynote slide is open with the Build Order animation and transition menu with the working slide in the background.
Use the Build Order menu to preview and edit the order and timing of your Builds and Actions on the slide

Lesson Recap

This project was a really fun extension to illustrating our understandings of homophones. Students were really engaged in the process of bringing their drawings and media elements to life and consolidated their understandings of different homophones through experiencing their meanings instead of simply reading them. We celebrated all of the classroom creativity by having a viewing party of the animations, and challenging each table group to use the homophone pairs correctly in context in two separate sentences.

This was a very rewarding project that taught me a lot about the process of coordinating builds and actions in Keynote. Now that I have this knowledge, my mind is spiralling with ideas of where else we could incorporate this in my classroom, from storytelling to showing scientific processes to animating historical timelines!

Creator Tips

My main tip for trying this project would be to preview and tweak, and then preview and tweak again! Timing is everything with animations, so play around and get picky about when each element builds in, starts actions, stops them, or builds out. This project, though Language Arts-based, is very hands-on and visual in nature, which makes it great for students who have difficulty with reading and spelling.

How do you envision using Keynote animations in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below!

Learn how, and explore more Everyone Can Create Projects >


An image of an illustrated student with an iPad showing their work to their teacher.

All Comments

Posted on August 16, 2023

This is so fun - love your animation! And what a great way to have students learn the difference between the words. Thanks for the creative idea and the “how to!”

Posted on August 21, 2023

What a cool way to bring literacy to life.

Posted on August 23, 2023

Great idea! We use Keynote for vocabulary in isolation often, but I hadn’t thought about homophones. Thanks for sharing!

Posted on September 11, 2023

Absolutely love the creativity of this idea and how much fun learners will have creating their own.

Posted on October 05, 2023

Thanks Victoria! I have so many ideas for my Physics and Space Sci classes. I love the tip to create on another slide and bring elements from there; genius. Here's my first go around!

Posted on April 02, 2024

Ooh! Love this so much! Thanks for sharing!!

Posted on October 30, 2023

Love this and love all of the transfer ideas! This could be used in a variety of subject/content areas!

Posted on November 23, 2023

Amazing idea and great post! Thank you for sharing your process in detail.

Posted on November 30, 2023

Excellent explanation and great exemple. Love the creative way to use the power of animation in Keynote.

Posted on January 11, 2024


I love this activity and I appreciate your thorough explanation on how to do it. What a great way to teach homophones in a meaningful way.

Posted on February 19, 2024

I love this idea and hope to try it out with my third graders!

Thanks for sharing! :)

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