Appropriate Group Size
Why teach about syllables?
- Dividing words into parts, or “chunks” helps speed the process of decoding.
- Knowing the rules for syllable division can students read words more accurately and fluently.
- Understanding syllables can also help students learn to spell words correctly.
Watch teaching demo: quiet yell
Monique Ealey demonstrates the Quiet Yell, a fun and engaging strategy that helps students practice segmenting and counting syllables in words. Ms. Ealey is a former teacher and current director of education and programs at the Mississippi Children’s Museum. (Reading Universe)
Watch teaching demo: stomp and say
Former teacher and current Director of Education and Programs at the Mississippi Children’s Museum, Monique Ealey, talks about her fun and engaging “stomp and say” strategy to help students practice segmenting and counting syllables in words. (Reading Universe)
Watch lesson: segmenting and blending syllables
Students in teacher Liz Quezada’s class practice segmenting words by pulling apart syllables and then putting them back together to form the word. They’re at La Verne Heights Elementary School in La Verne, California. (Reading Universe)
This activity, from our article How Now Brown Cow: Phoneme Awareness Activities, is an example of how to teach students to use a marker (i.e., token) to count syllables.
The marker activity often used for word counting can be adapted for use in counting syllables. Teachers can provide each child with tokens and two or three horizontally connected boxes drawn on a sheet of paper. The children place a token in each box from left to right as they hear each syllable in a word.
This example includes several activities and a chart of multisyllabic words. One specific activity from this page is the Multisyllabic Words Manipulation Game. Teachers can divide words from reading selections into syllables, write each syllable on a note card and display the syllables in jumbled order. Have students arrange the syllables to form the words.
Associating syllables with a beat can help students to better learn the concept of syllables within words. Here’s a clapping game to help young learners understand about dividing words into syllables.
The following link includes information on introductory activities such as using mirrors for teaching students about syllables. Information is also provided about the different syllable spelling patterns.
This activity teaches student to separate words into syllables. Students move syllables around to create new “silly” words which gives them practice manipulating different sounds.
Find many more syllable activities developed by the Florida Center for Reading Research.
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners
- Use pictures instead of words in activities for younger and lower level readers
- Include auditory and hands-on activities (i.e., clapping hands, tapping the desk, or marching in place to the syllables in children’s names)
- Include a writing activity for more advanced learners.
See the research that supports this strategy
Adams, M., Foorman, B., Lundberg, I., & Beeler, T. (2004). Phonemic Activities for the Preschool or Elementary Classroom.
Ellis, E. (1997). How Now Brown Cow: Phoneme Awareness Activities.
Moats, L. & Tolman, C. (2008). Six Syllable Types.