Most children begin encountering multisyllabic words in 1st grade. Unfortunately, not all reading programs spend enough (or any!) time teaching students to decode these words. (Does yours?)
While some students will successfully learn to decode multisyllabic words, many other kids will stumble over them for years. They’ll skip the ending, or part of the middle, or mispronounce the vowel sounds.
But with our help, students CAN master multisyllabic words! And it only takes a handful of minutes each week.
In today’s blog post, I’m sharing 4 engaging activities that will help you teach students how to break up multisyllabic words!
1. Breaking Up Words
This activity is probably the most basic – but it’s also the most important! Plain and simple, kids need practice dividing up lots of words, so that they can then apply these skills to their reading.
I use a hands-on approach to begin teaching students to break up words. I have them use different colors to code the consonants and vowels. They use scissors to physically cut each word apart.
Eventually, we usually move to dividing up the words on paper or whiteboards (by drawing lines, not cutting). Students copy the words from the board, or I give them a half-sheet like the one below. At this point, we also stop using colors. Students just use a pencil to mark the consonants, vowels, and syllable types. The process becomes a little bit faster.
My Complete Guide to Teaching Syllable Types & Syllable Division Rules walks you through exactly which syllable division rules to teach – and when. The lessons also cover the syllable types. Everything is laid out for you, and many teachers have mentioned that it’s very easy to follow.
If you just need a refresher on the basics of the syllable division rules and syllable division types, however, make sure to check out these blog posts:
2. Color Coding Syllables or Rainbow Syllables
Even after we move to using the half-sheets, I still like to keep syllable division fun and fresh for my kids! “Color Coding Syllables” or “Rainbow Syllables” are two activities that my students enjoy.
Check out the examples below – the first example is for practicing open and closed syllables, and the second example is for practicing open, closed, magic e (silent e), and vowel team syllables.
3. Sorting Words
I’m sure you’ve heard of a word sort before, but I apply this concept in some unique ways when we work on syllable division.
In the example below, students practice determining whether words have 1 or 2 syllables. All of the words end with -ed; in the accompanying lesson, students learn that while -ed can serve as a syllable by itself (when following the letter t or d), sometimes it has no vowel sound and does not act as its own syllable.
In the word sort example below, students determine whether each word follows the V/CV syllable division rule or the VC/V syllable division rule. (This concept can be tricky – students might have to try dividing the word both ways before figuring out the pattern!)
There are many different ways you can use word sorts to have students practice syllable division!
4. Code, Roll, and Read
This activity is great for word division practice AND word reading fluency.
In each activity below, students divide up all the words first. Then, they roll a die, read a word in the column they rolled, and cover it. They continue until all words are covered.
All of the resources pictured in this blog post come from my Complete Guide to Teaching Syllable Types and Syllable Division Rules!
It can be a lot to figure out on your own, but the guide includes scripted lesson plans to make syllable division easy for your students (and you!) to understand.
This mini-program fits into ANY phonics program. The table of contents tells you exactly when to teach each lesson. You match it to whatever concepts you’re teaching, and you can progress at your own pace. Here’s the Table of Contents:
Each week includes lesson plans, words for students to divide, and practice activities like Color Coding Syllables, Code, Roll, and Read, and more. The first few sections start out slowly, so that students first understand what a syllable is (helpful for any grade, but especially appropriate for 1st grade).
If you’d like to learn more about this resource or purchase it, please use this link.
Last but not least, always keep your purpose in mind when teaching multisyllabic words: to help students READ! While these out-of-context activities are important, it’s also essential that we remind students how to apply these principles when they’re reading actual texts.
I hope this post was helpful to you! If you’d like to grab a free phonics guide that includes tons of phonics terms and rules in one place, get the freebie here.