Thursday, March 18, 2021

Why Teach Counting Syllables?

 I'll be honest, when I was a younger teacher, I didn't really know why teaching about syllables was important. Whole Language was all the rage when I was in college so it wasn't until much later that I finally got the training in phonics instruction that led to many light bulb moments for me.

So why do we count (or clap or tap) syllables?

Once children can break a word into its syllables, they can be taught some nifty reading and spelling rules! It takes the guess work out and many children feel comforted to have "rules" to help them. I tell them we are word detectives and if we look closely at the clues, we can solve the mystery!

Step 1 Break the word into syllables. 

Teach that every syllable has a vowel. I've found that some children find it helpful to put their hand under their chin. Each time their jaw drops is a syllable.

Step 2 Teach the types of syllables.

  1. A closed syllable ends in a consonant. The vowel has a short vowel sound, as in the word cat.
  2. An open syllable ends in a vowel. The vowel has a long vowel sound, as in the first syllable of open.

It is helpful to use a door analogy.  The consonant is closing the vowel in, keeping it short. If the door is left open the vowel says its long sound. I make up a story about a little sister who will sing at the top of her lungs if her brother doesn't shut the door. I can be quite dramatic and demonstrate my awesome opera voice. We practice with words such as me, baby, music, etc. and I let the class use their opera voices, too. Don't you want to be my neighbor? :-)

There are 4 more syllable types (or 5 depending on which program you follow) but I think I will stop here for today. Can you see, even with just teaching open and closed syllables, how it will help your students have a better idea how to read and spell?

Here is a FREE spring-themed syllable sheet to help you practice step 1. 

I think I may need to make more of these because I found coloring them in for this picture SO relaxing!!


 I also made it a TpT Easel activity in case you want to give that a try. I made draggable circles your students can drop on the correct number or you could have them use the highlighter instead. 

Click HERE to grab your freebie.

If you are looking for more practice with counting syllables, I have interactive Boom Cards and Google Slides available. 


I'd love to hear from you in the comments. Do you teach syllable types? Do you teach 6 or 7? Have you tried Easel by TpT with your class yet?



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