9 Syllable Couting Activities
Counting syllables is a skill that can really help children when they start to read. That’s because it helps them hear the different vowel sounds in a word, so the earlier children can start to break down a word and hear each syllable, the better. Splitting up a word and being able to hear the different beats in it is important when children start to decode words. If you are wondering how to teach syllable counting – look no further.
The answer is to play lots of fun syllable-counting games like the ones below:
- Start by clapping your hands at a regular beat and ask the children to join in. You can do this activity in a large or small group or on an individual basis. I like to sit in a circle so everyone can see each other. When you are all clapping together in a regular rhythm, start to say the children’s names on the beats, so John will be one clap, Josie will be two claps, and Jacqueline will be three claps. Leave two claps between each name to help the children clearly hear the sounds.
- When you have clearly clapped everyone’s name, breaking it down into syllables, go around the circle and ask the children to clap their own names. Talk about how many syllables there are in their name; who has the most? When everyone in the group is able to clap the syllables in their own name, you can start to play some syllable counting games.
- Ask a child to choose someone in the group and clap the syllables in their name. That person then chooses someone else, and so on. This is good practice for breaking words into chunks. When you are sure that the children can confidently clap each other’s names, you can start to move on to other words.
- You can adapt this game to any topic you like. If you are learning about countries, try clapping out; 1 – France. 2 – Poland 3 – Italy. 4 – Argentina 5 – Indonesia 6 – Saudi Arabia. Or you could try famous people like: Harry Styles – 3 Sponge Bob Square Pants – 4 or Spiderman -3. Practice clapping the beats of each word, then encourage the children to count the beats by counting how many claps they make for each word. Ask the children for their own suggestions too.
- Now the children know how to break down a word into beats, they should be starting to hear the vowel sounds in all words. You can throw a little syllable counting practice in throughout the day. You could count food words at lunch or snack time, like pepperoni pizza (6 beats) or macaroni cheese (5 beats), or crunchy carrot sticks (5 beats). You could also count out the syllables in the date, breaking down the day, month and number.
- Giving daily practice in a fun way will encourage the children to really hear the beats in the language, which is a fantastic pre-reading skill. If you have a child that is struggling with hearing the claps in a word, you could try asking them to put their hand under their chin and say a word. See if they can feel how many times their chin bumps onto their hand. Each bump is a syllable.
- In pairs, give each child a whiteboard or some other way of recording. Ask them to make one mark for each syllable they hear. Ask one of the children to name as many animals as they can think of. Their partner should record the number of syllables in each animal word. Allow a few minutes to play, and then swap over.
- In pairs, ask one child to say as many foods as they can think of. This time, fist pump the air on each beat to count the number of syllables in each food. Allow a few minutes before they swap over.
- In pairs as above, ask one child to think of as many different kinds of weather as they can. Their partner should stamp their feet on the syllable beats as they record the marks. Don’t forget to swap over.
You can check out this course on syllable counting activities.
For Other Similar Ideas Try:
- Line a group of six children up facing you and tell them you are going to play a game. Give each child a number between 1 and 6. Roll a dice. If you roll four, it is child number four’s turn. Say a word, and ask them to take a stride forward for each syllable. So, for example, if you say elephant (3), they would take three steps forward. Keep playing until a player has reached you, as they are the winner. Repeat this game to practice syllable counting with different words, increasing the difficulty as the children get better at it.
- Give a group of children a set of cards with some random words on them. Make sure that the words have a varying number of syllables from one to five. Provide five circles (you can use hoops, plastic Venn rings, or simply draw five circles on a large piece of paper). Ask the children to sort the words into groups of one, two, three, four, and five-syllable words. You can make it more exciting by adding a timer if you want to increase the jeopardy. See if the children can check if they got them all right by clapping out the sounds at the end of the game. You can keep practicing counting by simply replacing the sets of words.
- Put out a varied selection of books. Tell the children they are going on a hunt to find words with lots of syllables. Open a book on a random page and try to find a long word. Help them to read the word and see how many syllables they can hear. Are there any interesting words or words they have never heard before? What is the biggest amount of syllables they managed to find in one word?
- Take a walk around the room or outdoor space and look for different objects. Record the number of syllables in the word by making a mark for each syllable. For example, the door – would be one mark, the window – would be two marks, pencils – would be two marks, the concrete tile would be three marks, and so on.
- Mix up some longer words into syllables and ask the children if they can unscramble them to put them right again. Try words like brel. um. la. (umbrella) or ti. het. spag. (spaghetti). Ask the children to keep rearranging the syllables until they can see and hear a real word.
Being able to hear the syllables in each word is an important skill. Being able to divide a word up into its different vowel sounds will really help children when they start to read. That’s because they will understand how to break a word into different parts or decode it. This will mean that they will be able to read words more easily and fluently. It will also help them to hear the rhythms and patterns in language.
There is a further syllable counting lesson on the link below:
The key is to have fun. Don’t make it into a lesson; make it into a game. That way, the children will be more motivated, and they will be learning without even realizing it.