Syllables: Teaching and Explaining Them to Your Kids

Syllables: Teaching and Explaining Them to Your Kids

Teaching syllables to your kids makes reading and spelling so much easier.

By sounding out a word, both reading and spelling become less daunting for early readers. Explaining and studying syllables for kids is a great way to give them a larger understanding as to how words are put together.

If you’re looking for some reading help for kids or starting to look for ideas on how to teach kids to read at school or at home, one of the first ideas to talk about should be syllables. It makes words more “bite-sized” and manageable for early readers.

Syllables are important in phonics teaching, so if you’re looking for how to help kids read or spell, using syllables might be a good approach and a strong building block for growing their reading skills.

Learning syllables is how many kids become strong readers with great command of the language.

Find Syllabic Reading Books for Your Child

Explaining the Idea: “What Are Syllables?”

Learning syllables starts by knowing what a syllable is. There are several different kinds of syllables that make up words, but all that’s really important for kids to know and understand is how to hear and identify syllables.

So how do you introduce the idea of what a syllable is? It’s the number of sounds in a word. You can describe syllables in a few different ways:

  • As the number of beats in a word
  • As the number of “mouthfuls” a word contains
  • As the number of times your chin drops when saying a particular word (for example, in the word “e-le-phant,” your chin would drop three times)

For especially young children, you don’t have to give them a complicated, overwrought answer as to what syllables are. You can simply say something like, “A syllable is part of a word,” and let them use examples and activities to figure out more about what a syllable is and how to break a word down into syllables.

Syllable Activities

Learning syllables can be fun! There are lots of different ways to teach syllables to your kids, and the more active and exciting the lesson is, the more likely your students or children are to retain the information and get excited about it.

You can try a few of these activities to get your kids involved in decoding syllables:

The Syllable Hop: Get your kids up and moving with the syllable hop. You may have to model this activity a few times for kids to get the hang of it. Explain that everyone will hop in time with the word. Depending on the age and skill level of your kids, this might start out as a shadowplay activity until they are a little older.

Come up with words together to use for this activity—this makes your kids part of the syllable discovery process. Start with one- or two-syllable words and build from there.

Clapping Names: Kids love to use their own names when they are learning. Their names are super important to them. Practice clapping out the syllables in each child’s name.

Syllable Number Run: Your kids can burn off some energy and tap into their competitive side with the syllable number run. Find a large enough open space, or head outside and designate separate areas for different length words. You even can place space markers down labeled with a “1,” “2” or “3” to help differentiate.

Practice calling out words and have your kids run to the number that represents the correct number of syllables. Say the word slowly, or break it down into syllables to help your child or student self correct.

Kick the Syllable: Head outside and get syllables in your kids’ brains and bodies! One or multiple soccer balls will work nicely for this activity. Give each child a word and have them kick the ball the same number of times as there are syllables in the word.

Kids either can kick the same ball multiple times or you can line up multiple soccer balls and have them kick each ball one time, saying each syllable out loud as they kick the corresponding soccer balls.

If you are a German teacher, using a soccer ball, or “futbol,” is a great way to tie in German culture with your lesson on syllables, since futbol is such a huge part of German culture. Choose German vocabulary words, and break them down into syllables by kicking a futbol.

Robot Speak: Robot Speak is a fun, engaging way to explore syllables. Your kids probably already inherently know a little bit about syllables if they ever have heard a robot speak in a cartoon or a movie.

By talking like robots, they can start to differentiate each syllable the same way a robot in a cartoon might.  Get their bodies involved and have them move like a robot on each syllable.

German Syllable Books

German words are notorious for having lots of letters and many syllables. When teaching German, being able to distinguish syllables is important to sound these long words out.

It’s beneficial for dialectical pronunciation and stressing syllables of German words, and it’s also immensely helpful since so many words in German are compound words, or komposita. Being able to sound out very long German words gets a little easier when you can start to identify syllables.

Kinder-Books also has syllable books, or books to teach syllables in German words. In this series of books, each syllable is denoted in a different color to help early readers and new language learners break down large or multisyllabic words into parts to sound them out.

You can find a wealth of syllable books as well as other books designed for early readers to share with your students or your children through Kinder-Books and boost their German reading skills.

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Expand your library of German syllable books, and help your students and your kids master the German language today!