The ability to recognize that words are made up of discrete sounds and that these sounds can be changed is essential to success in learning to read (Lundberg, Frost, & Petersen, 1988; Hoffman, Cunningham, Cunningham, & Yopp, 1998)

This article is second in our series of articles on Phonological Awareness.  We discuss the important reading skill of syllabification (breaking words into syllables) and details some strategies we implement to teach this skill and  you may like to try at home
Read our first post about phonological awareness: rhyme time – HERE

Climbing the phonological ladder of success

Segmenting words into syllables is a very important pre-reading skill.  Syllabification assists the beginning reader to break words into sounds for reading and writing


Syllables are the natural beat of sounds in words.  Teaching syllables is a FUN activity for children, and resources can be used to encourage this such as drums and body percussion including clapping and stomping.


Activities for working with Syllables

Introducing Syllables

  1. Say the word and ask the student to say the word also
  2. Place your hand under your chin and say the word again.  However many times your chin moves when you say the word, is the amount of syllables in the word
  3. Check the number of syllables is correct by reinforcing the activity with a hand clap for each syllable you hear in a words

Syllables in Names

The first way we introduce segmenting words into syllables, is by clapping the sounds in our students own name.  Children love to clap their names and the names of their classmates in this fashion.  We also introduce body percussion to indicate the sounds in our names.  A fun activity that can be achieved quickly.

If you have trouble breaking words into syllables, there are some rules to follow if you need assistance.

Super Simple Rules

Hearing and dividing words into Syllables

When you are first introducing syllables to your child/students it is fun to play games.  We have some options to make this easy

Beat the Drum

Enjoy this game encouraging word division by using the beat on the syllable drum

Syllable SortSyllable Sorting Sacks

Students love to sort the syllables – teach the skill of counting syllables in words, FUN by using this game with motivating graphics
When students learn to hear the syllables in words, they are strengthening their literacy skills.  Understanding syllables assists early readers to decode words and early writers to write the sounds in words.

Encourage your students to break words into syllables with fun activities

For the Love of Learning