Have you heard of consonant-l-e words? They’re words like “sprinkle” (the consonant is k, followed by the letters “l” and “e”). “Juggle,” “hurdle,” and “simple” are 3 more examples.
These words can be hard to teach! Interestingly, many of the words now spelled with an ending of “consonant-l-e” were not always like that. For instance, I just found out “battle” used to be spelled “batel.” While “batel” probably looks funny to you…wouldn’t it be easier to teach that spelling?!
Despite consonant-l-e making our lives harder 😅, you can simplify things by helping students memorize the universal rules rather than the words themselves. More bang for your buck!
Before I dive in, let’s see if you can think of examples of words that end in the following:
How’d you do? (If you’re breaking into a cold sweat trying to think of examples, no worries – you can find some later on in this post!)
In this blog post, I’m going to explain consonant-l-e words, give some examples, and share how I teach consonant-l-e words to my second grade (and older) students!
What Are Consonant-L-E Words?
Consonant-l-e is a word ending, but it’s also a type of syllable. For some background knowledge, a syllable is a unit of pronunciation that has one vowel sound. Words can be made up of one syllable (i.e. chair) or several syllables (i.e. rhi/noc/er/os). The 6 (or 7) types of syllables are:
- Vowel-Consonant-E (also known as Magic E or Silent E)
- Vowel Team
- Diphthong (some people combine this with vowel team)
Today, I’m focusing on words that have consonant-l-e syllables, but if you or your students need a refresher on all syllable types, I have a resource for that as well (check out that blog post here).
How Do You Teach the Consonant-L-E Syllable?
The consonant-l-e word syllable is unique because, unlike other syllable types, it’s always found at the end of a word. When I introduce this syllable type, I usually present students with multiple examples. They have to locate the consonant-l-e syllable and tell me what the consonant is.
Then, the next step is to teach students how to decode these words. (They typically master this a lot earlier than they master spelling these words.)
One decoding strategy that can come in handy is to read the end of the word first.
This can feel counterintuitive to what they learned early on! But reading the end of the word first will sometimes give insight on how to pronounce the beginning of the word. Recognizing the “consonant-l-e” at the end of the word FIRST will open up the door to this helpful strategy for reading consonant-l-e words.
Process for Reading Consonant-L-E Words:
STEP 1: Students must divide the word up into syllables. (Feel free to review “How to Teach Students to Divide into Syllables”.) The “consonant-l-e” ending serves as a syllable by itself.
STEP 2: Once that’s done, have students look at the syllable prior to consonant-l-e. Ask, “Is this syllable open or closed?”
STEP 3: If the first syllable is open, there is a long vowel. If the first syllable is closed, there is a short vowel.
Ta-dah! Magic rule.
And then, STEP 4: Put it all together to say the word!
Let’s do an example.
If the word is “table”:
STEP 1: What are the syllables? → ta/ble.
STEP 2: Is “ta” open or closed?
STEP 3: Since “ta” is open, the “a” makes a long vowel sound.
STEP 4: Put it together = table!
When Do You Teach the Consonant-L-E Syllable?
The consonant-l-e syllable is one of the the last syllable types I teach.
I usually wait until 2nd grade (Level 2, Unit 3 in my phonics program, From Sounds to Spelling) to teach consonant-l-e. Even then, my main goal is for students to be able to decode these words – and correctly spell a few common consonant-l-e words. Full mastery (with spelling) doesn’t usually come until later grades.
What Are Some Activities for Teaching the Consonant-l-e Syllable?
- Practice dividing consonant-l-e words into their syllables to read them
- Circle, underline, or highlight words with the consonant-l-e syllable BEFORE reading a decodable text (students can also break up the words ahead of time)
- Play games with consonant-l-e words to increase fluency with reading them
In this super fun “Don’t Tip Over the Tower” game, students have additional word cards. They draw one of the cards, read the word, and write it on the tower that matches. The last player to add a word to the tower “tips it over” and their partner gets to claim that tower!
Last but not least, here’s a list of some consonant-l-e words, sorted by ending:
- -ble: stumble, jumble, rumble, grumble, fumble, tremble, nimble, hobble, table, pebble
- -fle: sniffle, ruffle, snuffle, waffle, raffle
- -tle: battle, bottle, tattle, title
- -dle: handle, bundle, candle, middle, paddle, fiddle, saddle, riddle
- -gle: jungle, wiggle, juggle, giggle, bugle
- -kle: twinkle, buckle, tickle, ankle, freckle
- -ple: simple, apple, ripple, dimple, purple, sample, temple, maple, trample, crumple, example, uncrumple
- -zle: puzzle, sizzle, nozzle, fizzle, drizzle
I hope this information on the consonant-l-e syllable is helpful to you! If you need more resources to teach this or other phonics skills, check out my phonics program, From Sounds to Spelling.
This program contains complete lesson plans, lots of activities, picture and word sorts, decodable texts, phonics posters, and more!