I mentioned that I have a number of students working on phonemic awareness and pre-reading tasks this year. One of the concepts that keeps rearing its head is syllable-ness.
The concept of breaking words into parts is a simple one for many kids, but when they don’t get it right away, where do you go? Often clapping or tapping out the breaks with rhythm sticks helps. I’ve found with many kids that making the whole thing bigger does the trick.
I have a couple sets of felt placemats that I’ve picked up at Walmart, Target and Michaels. To start, I make two parallel lines of 3-4 mats. I stand side by side with the child off the mats and hold their hand. I start with their name, let’s pick “Taylor,” and say it with the break. Then we “jump it”–“Tay” (first mat), “lor” (second mat). We might do this a few times.
By holding my hand and jumping together, they can feel the rhythm I’m using and cuts way down on errors. And I only use the felt mats which don’t slip (I’m doing this on carpet, you might need a rubber back if you use on tile floors).
A huge number of kids these days seem to have two and three syllable names. Next, we do my first name, “Kim.” The kids seem to love using my first name for this. It must feel slightly illicit to use an adult’s first name without “Miss” in front. And they love that my name is “only one” which they delight in letting me know immediately. “Your name is only ONE! Mine is TWO!!!”
Once they have this down with me, I’ll have them start jumping words on their own with a variety of 1-4 syllables and we might start alternating jumping with clapping or tapping. They usually pick this up quickly once they get going.
In the fall we jumped on leaves, but as of this week, we’re jumping on poinsettias!
And let me know if you have any syllable activities to share!
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This is a great activity. I’m wondering if you explain what syllables are to your students beyond talking about the ‘rhythm’ or ‘beats’ of words?
I don’t get too into the definition of a syllable, other than to say we are breaking the word into its parts. It doesn’t seem to confuse them, even if we later start discussing the individual sounds within a word (so talking about “Kim” having one syllable vs. it having three diffident sounds within it). I would recommend keeping the vocabulary the same as what is used in the classroom. Kim
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