They Open & Close - Flowers & Syllables

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SWBAT decode regularly spelled two-syllable words with open and closed syllables.

Big Idea

How do you read those words? Look for open and closed syllables!



I chose this book because the topic is part of our science unit. It's so helpful to read an informational text related to the science or social studies unit you are studying. The review of vocabulary and concepts in this lesson reinforces the our science study and helps students generalize concepts across the curriculum.

You could do this lesson with any informational text and tie in the idea of open and closed syllables. Just preview the text and find words that fit the pattern.

In second grade, students begin to read to learn. They need to be able to read academic vocabulary to learn new concepts. The ability to decode new words, including those with long and short vowels, (RF.2.3c) by using spelling rules, allows students to become more independent readers.

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Common starting point

  • "I've brought a great informational text today to help us understand our science unit better. It has lots of new vocabulary words that we have been learning in science. Sometimes it's hard to remember how to pronounce and read these new words."
  • "One way to help us read new words is determine if the syllables are 'open' or 'closed'. English has 'rules' that helps us determine how to say the words by looking at open and closed syllables. Since we're reading about flowers and talking about syllables, I found a video to show this flower is 'closed' and then 'opens'."

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "When we are trying to read new words, it's helpful to sound them out by looking at the syllables.
    • 'Closed syllables' are those that have consonants after the vowel, which makes it 'short' - the syllable is 'closed on the end by a consonant'.  Here's an example of that  - sunshine.  (the /u/ is a short vowel because it's 'closed' after the /n/.
    • 'Open syllables' are those that have no consonant after the vowel, which makes it 'long'.  The vowel is left 'open'.  Here's an example of that - going.  The /o/ is a long vowel because it's left open.
  • "We'll read the book today and look for new 2 syllable words to see if they are 'open' or 'closed'.  We can categorize these words by their syllables to read."
  • "Pay attention to the text features as we read - there are lots of great captions, pictures, and diagrams in this book!"
  • Note: Be very careful not to say the words for the kids - the goal is for them to READ the words.  Many words are familiar, but some are novel to this unit.


Introduce strategy - teacher models

  • "I've made a list of a few open and closed 2-syllable words. Say them to yourselves and think about how you pronounce the vowels - are they long or short?  What do you notice?"  
    • total, final, funny, kitten, sucker, sofa
    • Prompt with 'the closed syllables have short vowels and the open syllables have long vowels'. 
  • "Now I'll read the first few pages of the book and identify some other words to add to the list."
  • Read through the page that says, "A flower is made up of many parts (including the captions)."
  • List the words on the board (don't read them aloud). 'pollen', 'stamen', 'stigma', 'aster', 'sepal')   
  • "As we look at each word, let's determine if the first syllable is open or closed and then we can read it."  Read the words and put in the right place.  Make a mistake and let the kids see it - say 'Sti   (long vowel)  and gma'   ohhh that sounds wrong, let me try it again - 'stig.. ma'  that's right."


Practice strategy - guided practice

  • "Let's read some more and you can help me."  Read through the page that says, "Pollination happens in different ways."  
  • "Do you see any 2 syllable words that are open or closed?"  Prompt with itself, before, begin, happen.  List them on the board.  This is the completed whiteboard.
  • "Where do we put them and how do we say those words?"
  • "What about the word 'flower'?  The syllable is open, but the 'ow' is a vowel team, so it doesn't follow the open vowel rule. We won't put it on the list. Remember not all words will follow the rule."
  • "Here's a review of open/closed syllables that we discussed.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Assign Task

  • "I'll read the rest of the book to the class and write 2 syllable words on the board as I finish each page."
  • I put a few more up as examples, including 'itself' so I could gauge student understanding through the discussion.
  • "When I'm done, put the words in your open/closed chart.  Say them to yourself to check if they are open or closed."
  • "Remember to think about the syllables." This is a discussion we had about root words.


Words for the board

itself, insect, protect, ripen, become, nectar, onto, along, open, acorn, explain, people, toward, certain, garden, onto


As we look at open and closed syllables and how words are put together, we are ultimately determining the meaning of words and phrases relevant to a 2nd grade topic (RI.2.4). As students learn how to decode words, they are learning how to draw on their own abilities to learn and read, a shift in the Common Core Standards. 


Formative assessment

  • After you read, check on student work as you walk around. If students seems confused, use that as an opportunity to review the word.  
  • This is an example of what formative assessment looks like.
  • Here's a student artifact
  • Remind students to read the word aloud to check pronunciation.

Share What You've Learned

15 minutes


Share what you know

  • "Let's go back and use some of the GREAT vocabulary that is new for our science unit."
  • "Take a minute and draw the flower that you see on the page starting with 'A flower is made up of...."
  • Give the kids time to draw.
  • "Can you help me label that parts - I'll point to my flower and you can tell me the name - think about how we pronounce the word-if the syllable is closed or open."  (focus on those new words - stamen, pistil, petal, pollen, sepal)
  • "Label your flower and color it."
  • Here's one of my student's pictures.


This is a great review of 2 skills - how to read words with closed and open syllables and vocabulary for our science unit.  It would be worth going through all of the new words on their lists to touch on the ideas from the book.


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

Students with academic challenges may have a harder time with these words and you may want to use a whiteboard to show them how to categorize the word or at least how to break the word into syllables.  They may see the pattern if you're able to show them pol/len and stig/ma contrasted with a/corn and ri/pen.

Challenge your students with more ability to think of some other words that fall in this categories - possibly fruits or vegetables that grow on plants to stay within the theme. (orange, apple, pepper....)