Step 4 in Phonological Awareness deals with word parts and counting syllables. We started with words with sentence segmentation and now we’re moving to word parts. This IS NOT a blog post about syllable types, we’re just talking the introduction to syllables and counting word parts.
Syllable Awareness: Counting
When I was growing up we were told to put our hand under our chin and say a word.
The number of times our chin hit our hand equalled the number of syllables.
This works, but I have had students struggle with this method.
Their hand wasn’t close enough to their chin or they had their hand on their chin or they just got confused saying and counting.
We have to be explicit with our directions and our practice. The first step in syllable awareness is counting syllables.
There are many options. I like the golf clap with counting fingers. We ask students to hold one hand still and we show them a golf clap…the other hand makes a quiet tap more than a clap. Once we practice the golf clap, we add counting fingers to the clap. Let’s use “pineapple.” We say a word part, (pine) students clap once with one finger, (ap) the second clap has two fingers, and (ple) the third clap has three fingers. Then they can hold up the three fingers on their hand. It makes counting more concrete.
BUT, we can’t stop at golf clap. Let’s shake it up with fun ways to practice…maybe Syllable Dice. They roll the die and pick a picture. The dots on the die will tell them HOW they need count the syllables. This is surely to get some giggles.
After all the practice and all the fun, if there someone in your class who is still really struggling with counting focus on the “hum.” Mark Weakland, Literacy Specialist, a gives this wonderful explanation on you tube.
5 Syllable Awareness Activities
1. Syllable Awareness Clip-Its: Students choose a card, count the syllables, and clip the number.
2. Syllable Awareness Counting with Manipulatives: Students need to physically move a manipulative (small erasers, magnetic circles, flat marbles, etc.) to count the syllables.
3. Syllable Awareness Color: Students color a circle or square for each syllable.
4. Syllable Awareness Sort: Students physically manipulate pictures by counting, sorting and glueing according to syllable.
5. Syllable Awareness Game Boards: Much like the Sentence Segmentation Game, students will move their game piece based on the number of syllables in a word.
Syllable Awareness: Why does it matter?
Well, because they will eventually use syllable awareness to write. We will teach them every syllable has a vowel and they’ll be able to use that to help spell. It also takes the scary OUT of writing. This is one of my favorite conversations about spelling and syllables.
Me: How did the student feel after he made the goal?
Student: What’s another word for “confident?”
Me: Why? Why do you need a new word for “confident?”
Student: I can’t write confident, so I have to think of another way to say it.
Me: You can’t write it. How many syllables does “confident” have?
Student: Con-fi-dent, 3.
Me: Ok, write three lines on the paper.
Student draws three lines.
Me: Now, write each syllable.
If you are in need of multi-sensory activities for counting syllables, check out the set I created specifically for this step in Phonological Awareness. Syllable Awareness is important at this introductory level of learning.