Segmenting syllables is a phonological awareness task or skill that doesn’t get enough of the spotlight. We love to rhyme in preschool – because it’s so fun, but syllable segmentation and blending have been found to be more effective skills for literacy development than rhyming. I didn’t know that either, which is why after reading that in a journal article, I decided I needed to up my game with this skill and share that with all of you. I’m not going to stop having fun rhyming, I’ve just decided I’m going to focus a little more on these other skills, but I needed to find fun ways ( besides the trusty clapping out syllables) to do it. Then I stumbled upon this idea – and forgive me, I can’t remember where I heard it, but it’s not my own creation, and maybe you already use this in your class. All I know is that when I played this syllable segmentation game with my PreK class, they loved it!
How to introduce syllable segmentation with play
First of all, I usually write a simple sentence on the whiteboard, like ” Today is Monday.” Then I read it and ask my students how many words are in the sentence.
“Three” some yell out
“Yes – you are right, there are three. Now how many syllables?”
( crickets… no one says anything usually)
“That’s a new word – let me teach you about syllables, but we have to be special syllables robots programmed to hear and say the syllables in words! Program your robot ( motions pushing buttons) and get out your supersonic robotic listening device ( motions a hand to the ear). We need to find syllables by listening carefully because syllables are sounds that stick together in words. Ready?”
“Today- hmm, how many groups of sounds did we hear? Let’s slow it down To-day. Now let’s say it like a robot. “To – day.” ( use robot arms for full effect)
“Yes, there are two syllables in the word today… let’s do the rest of this sentence! ”
“Is” … one
“Monday…let’s slow it down Mon-day. two!”
Now let’s walk around the circle like robots saying hello to our robot friends – remember it’s “Hel-lo!”
Now it’s time for your syllable segmentation game
After you’ve introduced the concept playfully, you can play the game more easily during later classes. Here is how to play this syllable game.
Standing in a circle, tell your students you are all robots. Take a minute to all move like robots to get into character.
Explain that you have a job to do – robots speak in robot talk, and we need to turn our words into robot talk by breaking them into syllables. This is where to remind them that syllables are sounds that stick together in words. Robots don’t mash or blend the sounds together like we do, they say them separately. So robot in robot talk would be ro-bot. Ready?
“I’m going to say a word in person talk, and we need to switch it to robot talk. After I do a few, you get to try.”
“Apple – A-pple ” ( make sure you have robot arms)
“Button – bu-tton”
Then after a few tries, if they’ve caught on, offer the children a chance to offer up words.
If this is too big a game for your whole class, try it at small group time instead.
Teacher Resource for Syllable Segmentation
It’s Ok if you struggle with syllables – sometimes I second-guess myself too. Okay, actually, with syllable segmentation, I second-guess myself a lot! I use this website !
We don’t have to be perfect to teach – but make things even skills like this fun, and your students will learn so much more effectively!