Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I Used to Hate Teaching Syllables

Seriously I did.
I would always have those kids that would just "get" it.
They would clap along on each syllable like it was second nature.
Then I had "the others".
These students would clap along like they were at a concert.
They had no idea what they were clapping for.
Have you had these students?
Did you do something that got it to click with them?  PLEASE SHARE in a comment below!
I tried duck lips, chin drops, clapping, and many many multiple repetitions.

Then, last year I had a breakthrough.
I had thoroughly taught letter names, and the difference between consonant and vowels before this lesson.  If you have not done this yet you can read my posts about that HERE and HERE.
The key is, it's all in the mouth...


I had already taught my students that vowels open the mouth and consonants close the mouth.
So I started by reviewing this.
I asked my students, what do vowels do with your mouth?  open.
I am going to teach you today about syllables.
Each syllable has one vowel sound in it.
Watch as I say these one syllable words.
dog, cat, fish.
How many times did my mouth open?  one time.
Watch me say these two syllable words.
cupcake, doghouse, robot
How many times did my mouth open?  twice.
Watch me say this word.
How many times did my mouth open? Three times
Very good.  So we know that vowels open your mouth.  We know that each syllable has one vowel in it.  So how can we tell how many syllables are in a word just by saying it?  We can see how many times our mouth opens!

Guided your students then to practice counting syllables in words using this method.  Some students will be able to say the word themselves and tell how many times their mouth opens.  Some will need to use a mirror to watch their mouths open, or feel with their hand how many times it opens.  Be careful using words with lip poppers at the end (p,b)  they may mistake the pop that their mouth makes with another syllable/vowel sound.  Just bring this to their attention when they are ready.

Here is a free list of words by syllable.  I really only go to three syllables right now.  They will come up with super crazy words to try...LET THEM, then they will own this skill.  Have fun with words!

But seriously this really helped make connections for my students.  Then later they used their knowledge of syllables (one vowel sound in each syllable) to "see" syllables in the words they are reading.

Give it a try!  Let me know how it goes!  Comment below or shoot me an email at



  1. This is so clever! Believe it or not, even in 6th grade I still see kids with hands under chins or clapping when I ask about syllables!

    1. I believe it! Haha! Such a hard skill to understand. Hope this helps them!


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