Playing With Syllables

Next on the “list” of phonological awareness skills is helping a child to blend, segment (count) and delete syllables.

Teaching and learning syllables occurs much the same way as everything else.  First, you as the mama/teacher need to model over and over how it’s done, giving your child multiple and meaningful exposures.  When your child seems ready (he’s offering more imput when you model), give him a chance to try it with support, and finally set him free to do it independently.

Blending Syllables:

  • Model by playing games like this: “I’m going to say kitchen in a funny way.  Listen: kit-chen.”  (Putting space in between the syllables.)  Doesn’t it sound funny like that?
  • Ask them to try: “I’m going to say a word in a funny (slow) way.  Listen and see if you can tell me what word I’m saying: fing-er.”

Segmenting/Counting Syllables:

  • Here’s a post I did on counting syllables with ALuv.  In this post, we also looked at the written words after he counted syllables.
  • Reading books featuring characters with long names, like Chrysanthemum by Keven Henkes or Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel, is a fun way to let kids compare the syllables in their own names to that of the characters.
  • Give kids unifix cubes that snap together.  Call out a word and have your child snap the corresponding unifx cubes to the number of syllables in the word.  If you don’t have unifix cubes, you could use dried beans or any small manipulative and ask your child to put that many in a row.  You could also make this activity more active by having your child jump for each syllable.
  • Clap the Syllable Printables by Annie @ The Moffatt Girls
  • Check out Swinging and Clapping by Amy @ Teach Mama

By the way, I think it’s awesome how Amy integrates phonological awareness into everyday life.  I call this “living literacy”.  Because it doesn’t require pencil and paper, these types of activities can be done anywhere.  My favorite places to do them are in the line at the grocery store, waiting at the doctor’s office, in the bathtub, in the van, or outside swinging in the swing.

Deleting Syllables:

  • Mama: “Wow, listen to this!  If I said chapstick without chap, I would just have stick left.”
  • Here’s a free lesson plan on deleting syllables within compound words

A couple more resources:


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