Break It - Use Syllables in Writing

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SWBAT read regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels and show how to divide them in writing.

Big Idea

How can we deepen our understanding of syllables and use them to make our writing better?


  • Parts of a Plant powerpoint
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: syllable, essay, words
  • Set up the whiteboard
  • 'Syllables' worksheet
  • construction paper  (each student needs 1 page and scraps for flower parts)
  • black marker to label the parts


I chose this powerpoint because it relates to the topic we are studying. I encourage you to look at the power points on this website and find a presentation that you are studying.

This is the second lesson of two about syllables. I encourage you to look at my other lesson, Syllables and Flowers - Open and Close.  Students typically need multiple opportunities to see modeling and be guided through lessons with this kind of grammar. I continue to reinforce this skill of using syllables to break up words at the end of a line in their daily writing.

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

  • "Today we are going to look at some words in a powerpoint, which has information about plants - sort of like an essay that you were writing for Social Studies.
  • "Let's make a web of plant words, including the parts to see what you know."
  • Emphasize the syllables as you repeat what the kids say.
  • Here's our plant web.

Teacher's Turn

15 minutes

Give the purpose of the lesson

  • "We have talked about syllables before and how the they can be open and closed."
  • "When we read and know which syllables are open and closed, it helps us to read the words more easily."
  • "Syllables also help us to write.  I put up a graphic organizer on plants and I wanted to write about them on the organizer, but I have a problem - the sentences don't fit so I have to break up the words in syllables."  


Although there are lots of rules for breaking words into syllables, I'm really focusing on the Standard of looking at long vowels in 2 syllable words (RF.2.3c). This encourages students at this grade level to decode and encode words for reading and writing 2 syllable words. 


Introduce strategy - teacher models

  • "Open and closed syllables help me know how to divide up the words on the line. Open syllables have a long vowel and closed syllables have a short vowel. Read the words out loud and see if they have a long or short vowel."
  • "Look at these organizer is really skinny so I have to divide the words by syllable.."  (use the words that the kids came up with-stamen, pollen, stigma)
  • "When I think about closed and open syllables, I know how to divide it."
  • Start the powerpoint and do some words with the kids.  (pages 3-6- basic, water, sunlight, carries)
  • This is the whiteboard example during this portion of the lesson.


Practice strategy - guided practice

  • Pass out the organizer.
  • "Let's take a look at the powerpoint and put some words on the stem."
  • Read the first few slides - write a few words with the kids - page 8  (anchor, transport, carries, collects, attract, insect, function)   Explain the 'flower' uses the 'ow' sound, which is not short or long.
  • Ask some students to explain their thinking so you can get a 'feel' for their understanding.
  • Here's the whiteboard when we were done.


Several students noticed that double consonants are usually a division for a syllable. I let them come by this discovery on their own and share it with the class. Letting kids 'learn by discovery' can be powerful. They better understand the rules and will continue to be experiential learners.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • "I have some slides with plant information. Let's look for 2 syllable words that you can break."
  • "You can write the words on your organizer and break them at the syllables.  Think if they are closed or open syllables and that will help you read and write them correctly."
  • Slides 9-11 (center, planting, coffee, cotton, spices)
  • "On the bottom of the paper, write a sentence using a word that you have to 'break'." (I put several sample sentences on the board because the kids needed some help putting a 2 syllable word in the middle of a sentence that they could break.  My sample sentences were
    • 'First you put a seed into the ground'
    • "The big strong roots anchor the tree.'


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. 

Put It All Together

15 minutes

Finish the project

  • "Now that you've finished your words and your sentence, let's add a flower to the stem.  Use the construction paper to cut out leaves, petals and other parts of your flower."
  • "Lets' label the flowers since we've been studying the parts. I'll put up an example.
  • "Who would like to share their flower?"
  • These are my kids samples - finished project and finished project 2.


This activity of putting all the pieces together of the plant really helped my kids. They were motivated to complete their words and I connected their science learning to my reading lesson with the labeling. In my opinion, there does not need to be a 'project' for every lesson, but 2nd graders like to cut, glue and create attractive work.


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

Students with learning challenges may need a partner to sit next to for help 'breaking' the words into syllables. Even though I read the words, I know they still struggled to participate in the guided practice and it was harder for them to break the words. I did challenge them a bit to divide up the double consonant words because that was more concrete.

Students with more ability should be able to divide the words and can lead more of the discussion, especially the idea of 'open' and 'closed' syllables, as well as labeling and identifying the plant parts. Many times, these are the kids that raise their hands first. Sometimes, I'll ask them ideas and then call on another student to rephrase what the first student said.  This helps them all 'pay attention', knowing that they may be asked to rephrase and helps me to see if the kids can understand each other's comments.