Most Kindergarten teachers will teach or practice syllables with their students at some point in the year. Usually, a syllable activity just involves counting how many syllables are in the word. However, there is so much more that goes into teaching syllables than just counting the number of syllables. Here's how to teach syllables in Kindergarten effectively.
What are syllables?
A syllable is a single, unbroken sound of a word found in the English language. They are not to be confused with phonemes, which are the smallest unit of sound. Syllables are formed by adding vowels and consonants together. Some words are monosyllabic, meaning they only have one syllable, such as “pig” “catch”, or “time”. Other words are multi-syllabic, meaning they have 2 or more syllables, such as “rainbow”, “jellyfish”, or “elevator”.
Now, you are teaching Kindergarten, and using terms like monosyllabic and multisyllabic may be hard for a student to understand, let alone say correctly. When teaching syllables, I often refer to them as “chunks” in a word.
What is the progression of syllables skills you should teach?
In Kindergarten, it is important to build your student's phonological and phonemic awareness, as it is a key factor in students becoming successful readers and writers. In this blog post, All About Phonological Awareness, I describe the different terms and how to teach each phonological awareness skill.
How do you teach syllables?
When teaching syllables, you will do it mostly orally, especially in Kindergarten. The first way to practice is with oral blending. You will say the syllables in a word, like “sand” “which” and have the students blend them together. I typically start with compound words, then add on other 2, 3, 4 syllable words.
The next skill you can add is oral segmentation. You will say the full word, like “turtle”, and then students will break apart the word by syllable, “tur” “tle”. When practicing oral segmentation, I have my students count the syllables as they are breaking the word apart. For example, I would say, “butterfly”, we would count out how many syllables using our fingers, “but” “ter” “fly” and hold up 3 fingers to represent 3 syllable sounds. This skill will come in handy once students are ready and able to spell longer words.
The final skill to practice syllables is syllable deletion. You will say a multisyllabic word, like “window”, then have students take out “win” and say just what's left of the word “dow”. This skill is the most difficult, so if you do not teach it explicitly in Kindergarten, that's okay. The first two are the ones you should be focusing on throughout the year.
Simplify your Syllables Phonics Lessons
If you need “done-for-you” lessons to help you teach syllables, you can check out my Syllables Phonics Mini Unit here. It includes 2 weeks of oral syllable practice, lessons, centers, worksheets, and more.
Check out these engaging and hands-on syllable activities here: 3 Hands-On Syllable Activity Ideas