When I taught this lesson it was the second week in April. What I have in my mind at this time of year is “What skills do I absolutely need to teach my students before the end of the year? What is really going to make the difference for them to be successful in future years?” Showing my students how to decode multisyllabic rules based on syllable dividing rules is crucial. If my students have this foundational understanding of the different types of syllables and how to divide words by syllable type rules, they will be able to decode long words for the rest of their lives.
I am teaching this lesson with my highest reading group first, but I plan to teach the other groups as soon as they are ready for multi-syllable words. This group is already pretty good at decoding, but there is still room for improvement.
I have about 15 minutes with each of my reading groups each day. I am writing the lesson as one whole lesson, but I wanted to make sure you knew that this lesson was divided over a whole week. You can decide how you might want to divide the lesson based on your needs. I know there is always pressure on teachers to do the weekly story from the basal and read their leveled reader for the week, but I know if I take a solid week in small group to teach them this skill, they will have fewer problems with reading and spelling in future years.
Today we are learning that every syllable must have a vowel sound and using that understanding to determine the number of syllables in a word. This addresses RF1.3 and RF1.3d. As we go through the process of dividing syllables they will hear me say that syllable dividing is all about the vowels. Since this reading group always needs a challenge we are also looking at words with common vowel teams, long vowels, and prefixes and suffixes. I have already taught my class many phonics skills such as long vowels, vowel teams, and prefixes and suffixes. We are going to apply all this knowledge to our syllable dividing rules. This addresses standards RF1.3c, RF1.3e, and RF1.3f.
In order to teach this lesson, you will need your syllable types posters syllable type posters.pdf to review the syllable types, the teacher word list Teacher Word List For Syllable Dividing Lesson.pdf , syllable dividing rules bookmarks for each of your students Syllable Dividing Rules Bookmarks.pdf , notecards, and envelopes for students to store their cards. Your students will also need scissors and a pencil.
Once my students came back to our small group lesson, I introduced the objective. I said, “We are in the big time now, baby. This week we are going to focus on learning to divide large words based on syllable dividing rules. If you learn this skill really well this week, you will be able to read and spell long words for the rest of your life. Before we start dividing syllables lets review the types of syllables first.”
I took out my posters and we reviewed the different types of syllables. I reminded them about our syllable types lesson that we had previously done and put some examples of each type of syllable on the board. I said, “Now that are memories are refreshed on the syllable types, let’s learn how to divide our syllables.”
I passed out several stacks of cards so students could easily reach for a card when they needed one. I also passed out the bookmarks that explained several rules on how to divide the syllables. I said, “Let’s look at the first example. It says VC-CV. This means if you have two consonants in between two vowels, then you divide the word between the two consonants. Let’s look at an example.” I wrote butter on the board. I said, “When we divide syllables, it’s all about the vowels.” I put my left pointer on u and my right pointer on e. “I see two consonants in between my fingers. I have to divide my word between the two t’s. Let’s look at the first syllable. What type of syllable is it? That’s right, it’s a closed syllable. What type of syllable is the second syllable? That’s right it’s also closed. This way of dividing syllables is the most popular way.”
Then I said, “Let’s look at the next way to divide syllables. The bookmark says V-CV. Let’s see how we do this.” I wrote “pilot” on the board. I said, “I put my left pointer on i and my right pointer on o. When there is only one consonant between two vowels, most of the time you will divide it after the first vowel. Let’s look at the first syllable. What type of syllable ends with a vowel? That’s right an open syllable. What kind of vowel is in an open syllable? That’s right, a long vowel. Let’s look at the second syllable. What type of syllable is that? That’s right a closed syllable because that last consonant is closing the vowel in, making it a short sound.”
"Let’s look at one more way of dividing syllables. Our bookmark says VC-V. There are going to be some times when you need to divide the syllable after the consonant when you have one consonant in between two vowels. This is the least popular way of dividing syllables. Let’s look at an example.” I wrote the word camel on the board. I said, “ I put my left pointer on a and my right pointer on e. Let’s see what would happen if I divided after the a. Let’s look at the first syllable. What type of syllable would that be then? That’s right an open syllable. What type of vowel does an open syllable have? That’s right a long vowel. Do we say the word camel with a long a? No, we don’t. That’s why we have to divide the word after the consonant m. When we do that it becomes a closed syllable and the a becomes short. Now do you know why it’s so important to understand the different syllable types?” Then we continued to read the rest of the bookmark, noting that consonant digraphs need to stick together, and consonant blends stick together if there are 3 or more consonants in a row.
I wanted to have my students practice all the syllable dividing rules and have experience with all the different syllable types, so I chose words from various columns on my sheet. I said, “Now it’s time to practice dividing syllables." I wrote baby on the board. I said, “Let’s do our duck lips and see how many syllables this word has. That’s right. It has 2 syllables. Take a card and write this word on the blank side of your notecard. Write it very large.” Once the students had done that I said, “Put your left pointer on a and your right pointer on y. In this word y is acting like a vowel. It is acting like a long e. How many consonants are in between your two vowels? That’s right one. What is the more popular way to divide the syllable this way. Look at your bookmark if you need help. That’s right. We cut it after the first vowel. Take your scissors and cut your word after the a. Now let’s look at the first syllable. What syllable ends with a vowel? That’s right an open syllable. What kind of vowel does an open syllable have? That’s right a long vowel. Turn your card over and write open on the back of your card. Now let’s look at the second syllable. Remember the y is acting like long e. What syllable ends with a vowel? That’s right an open syllable. What kind of vowel is it going to be? That’s right a long vowel. Turn your card over and mark open on the back of your card. After practicing the word baby we practiced another syllable type with the word evergreen. You can see this video here Dividing Words Into Syllables Day 1- Evergreen.mp4 .
Then I said, “Let’s do another word. “ I wrote rabbit on the board. “Let’s do our duck lips and see how many syllables this word is. That’s right. We have another 2 syllable word here. Take another card and write rabbit in large print on your card. Put your left pointer on a and your right pointer on i. How many consonants are between your fingers? That’s right two. What is the most popular way to divide a word when you have two consonants between your fingers? That right. You divide the word between the two consonants. Cut your card in between the two consonants. Now let’s look at the first syllable. What syllable ends with a consonant? That’s right a closed syllable. What kind of vowel does a closed syllable have? That’s right a short vowel because the b is closing the a in, making it short. Write closed on the back of your card. Let’s look at the second syllable. What kind of syllable is this? That’s right, it’s a closed syllable because the t is closing the i in, making it a short vowel. Write closed on the back of your card.” After practicing the word rabbit we practiced the word sensitive. You can see this video here Dividing Words Into Syllables Day 2- Sensitive.mp4 .
We did many words together over the course of the week. I concentrated much of my effort with the two and three syllable words until the students felt comfortable dividing syllables and identifying what kind of syllable each was. Once my students did well with two and three syllable words we tried some four and five syllable words. The students in this group always need a challenge, however there may be years where I might have to stay with my two and three syllable words. You will have to judge what words to practice with your students based on their abilities. I have several videos here that showcases some of our work on dividing syllables. You can view them here: Dividing Words Into Syllables Day 4 - Pelican.mp4, Dividing Words Into Syllables Day 4 - Entrance.mp4, and Dividing Words Into Syllables Day 4 - Understand.mp4 .
I wanted my students to really understand why we took a whole week to work on this skill. I asked them, “Why did we learn how to divide long words by their syllables? How is this going to help your reading? How is this going to help your spelling?”