25 Hands-on Ideas for Teaching Syllabification of Words

“I was looking through my ‘noclars and saw an elfent eating sketti at the hopital” she said. Who am I kidding? They ALL say this! Polysyllabic or multisyllabic words ring alarm bells for me on many fronts.

Sure, it COULD be poor phonological processing or awareness skills. That makes the most sense.

But what about language? I always worry that my kids are encoding the wrong vocabulary and then won’t be able to access the ‘real’ word when they come across it because it doesn’t match their word.

Or perhaps there are some motor planning and syllable structure constraints going on. Tons of my speech kids find these longer words particularly tricky so I know it’s all connected.

Whatever the cause, it’s easy to target in therapy. Make it part of your everyday routine, a transition activity between tasks, a challenge for the day… whatever! I’ve listed 25 ideas to get you thinking.

  1. Use INSTRUMENTS to tap out the syllables. Drums, triangles, tambourines, xylophones, clapping sticks and maracas work the best. And you can’t go past singing along to a piano or keyboard!
  2. Put little pom poms or cotton balls in EGG CARTONS for each syllable.
  3. Draw CHALK circles on the carpet/concrete and have kids step out each syllable.
  4. Throw a BALL back and forth for each syllable.
  5. Use a WHITEBOARD and have the child make a tally or cross out a circles for each syllable
  6. Make a simple ABACUS and slide each bead along. Or if you want to be outdoorsy, most playgrounds have those big versions… they are super fun!
  7. Use the game CONNECT 4 or JENGA and have the pieces represent syllables. You can play/build as you go.
  8. Grab some string and BEADS and put a bead on for each syllable heard. Don’t have beads? Use pasta or regular threading activities.
  9. There is something fascinating about a POSTING BOX. Have a 1-2-3-4-5 syllable boxes, grab some polysyllabic cards and post into the correct box.
  10. Use a FELT BOARD and put felt pictures on to represent each syllable. Kids love creating picture scenes from the syllables they hear.syllables with felt
  11. If you own a FROG HOP game, have them hop a frog for each syllable. Or, better yet, make numbered lily pads to represent the number of syllables heard in each word and have them hop to the right one!
  12. Use a simple VELCRO board and the child can stick on/take off a picture for each syllable heard. Kids LOVE to rip that velcro off!
  13. Cut some PAPER into shapes or use TWISTER circles to jump each syllable out.
  14. Use MAGNETIC COUNTERS with a wand or MAGNETIC games where the child can connect each syllable.
  15. Use LEGO or BLOCKS and build as you add each syllable.syllable blocks
  16. Every child loves smashing PLAY-DOH. Roll syllables into balls or have your students stamp things into the play-doh.
  17. Drive a train around a TRAIN TRACK – but you can only drive the number of syllables that you hear in a word, or add extra carriages per syllable.
  18. Use BINGO DAUBERS and dab the number of syllables. Fill a whole page in colorful dots!
  19. Incorporate PAINTING and paint different strokes/patterns/dots for every syllable. If you are a fan of those ‘100 challenge’ sheets, this would be perfect to paint 100 syllables heard in rainbow colors!
  20. Play syllable HOPSCOTCH and jump the number of syllables that are heard in words. Great for the little ones who need to move.syllable train carriages
  21. I like putting cute stickers on LIDS and putting them in a bag so that a child can pull out a lid for each syllable. We then might group the lids based on number of syllables heard.
  22. Grab some dice or even better, mini WOODEN CUBES and make syllable stacks – painting or adding pictures to the cubes is an added bonus!
  23. Make some colorful patterns using CRAFT STICKS. First syllable = red, second syllable = blue and so on.
  24. Another hands-on favorite is lining up those POM POMS from #2 and flicking each one as you say a syllable. And why not get a little competitive and have a makeshift goal to aim at?
  25. Bring out those throwing games! DARTS and RING TOSS will get you thinking. Anything with enough ‘parts’ to represent sounds will get the job done.

 So where can you get your hands on some word lists and cards?


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