Syllable Games

A few weeks back, I received a request for games that could be used to teach and practice the different types of syllables, so here we go!

According to Barbara Wilson in the Wilson Language System Instructor Manual (which I love, by the way!  You can get more information at Wilson Language if you’re interested), there are six types of syllables in English.  The closed syllable is generally the first taught.  In this syllable, there is a single vowel, usually short.  There is a consonant on the end and often one at the beginning, closing off the vowel.  Words like ‘cat’ and ‘run’ are closed syllables, and ‘public’ is made of two closed syllables.  The second type, and often next taught is the vowel-consonant-e syllable.  We recognize these because of the silent e on the end.  Words like ‘time’ and ‘came’ are VCe words, and ‘pinecone’ is a word with two VCe syllables.

The third kind of syllable is the open syllable.  This is one that ends with a long vowel sound, like ‘tree’ or ‘way.’  You can also have words that have two open syllables, like ‘baby.’  The fourth syllable type is the consonant-LE syllable.  These are always on the ends of longer words, like ‘bubble’ and ‘table.’  The fifth type is the r-controlled syllable: it always has a vowel followed by an R that changes the vowel sound, like ‘car,’ ‘stir,’ or ‘forearm.’  Finally, there is the digraph or double vowel syllable as in ‘beat’ or ‘few’ or ‘snowplow.’

Hopefully, that will help you to understand the syllables and to recognize the different types.  If you need more information, try All About Spelling or this great article at Reading Rockets.  Together, this should be all you need to teach the six types of syllables.  Now all we need are some games to help practice the skill!

  • Post Office:  You’ll need six containers labeled with the syllable types, and word cards that contain examples of the different kinds of syllables (one on each card, approximately ten cards per player).  Shuffle the cards and deal them out to all players.  You can even do teams on this if you want.  In turn or as a race, players try to put their cards into the correct ‘mailbox’ that matches the type of syllable in the word.
  • Syllable Scavenger Hunt: Arm the student with a few highlighting markers in various colors and text that can be marked up.  Challenge players to find and highlight the type of syllable you are working on and any that you want to review.  For example, you might have players find and highlight closed syllables in yellow and open syllables in pink.
  • Syllable Trail: Make a board game on the inside of a file folder by drawing a path from a starting line to a finish line.  Divide the path up into sections to be spaces for movement. Make word cards with various types of syllables.  If you want to use polysyllabic words, designate which syllable will be the focus.  Write the syllable types you wish to review on the spaces on the board.  Use coins or marker lids as pawns.  Players take turns drawing a word card and identifying the syllable, then moving to the next space containing the name of the syllable type.
  • Fishing for Syllables: Make at least 10 word cards for each type of syllable you are focused on so that you have a minimum of 40 cards.  Deal five to seven cards for each player.  Players may ask opponents for words with a specific syllable type.  If the opponent has it, it must be surrendered.  If the opponent does not have the card, the asking player must draw from the face-down pile of extra cards.  When a player has a set of 4 matching syllable types, they can be laid down as a group to score.  Additional matches can be added by any player to score for that player.
  • Syllable Mash-Up: Choose a number of two to four syllable words (like 30-50 words) and put one syllable from each onto a card.  You can use these cards to play two different games.  One idea is to challenge players to find the syllables that all go together to form a word and put them in proper order.  The second idea is to choose two or three cards and create a new “word” that is possible to pronounce.  In either case, the player who creates the most legal constructions wins the game.

Have a great time playing syllable games!  And remember, this post was in response to a reader’s comment.  Do you have questions about education and learning?  Feel free to leave them in the comment box below, and I’ll get back to you with an answer or suggestions.  I’m also always looking for topics for future posts, so feel free to add your thoughts on that front as well!