Teaching children to divide words into syllables or chunks is an important part of the Orton-Gillingham approach. The Orton-Gillingham approach teaches all six syllable types explicitly to children as they are learning to read. On today’s post I am going to share the six different syllable types and give you some information on teaching syllable division.

Count the Syllables

One activity that helps a child pull apart the syllables in a word is to count them. This can be done by clapping each syllable. You can start by counting (actually clapping) the number of syllables in your child’s own name.  Ja-son (clap, clap).  Jon-a-than. (clap, clap, clap). You can also clap out the days of the week Tues-day, the months of the year, Sep-tem-ber and fun words like cu-cum-ber or Cin-der-el-la.  

Watch our favorite teacher Miss Renee use multisensory activities to teach multisyllabic words:

For those kids who are having difficulties understanding syllables, try using “chin dropping.” This technique will help a child really “feel” the syllables. Place your hand under your chin, palm down. Now, say a multisyllabic word aloud. Every time your chin drops, that is one syllable! Some other ideas for teaching syllable division include:

  • Stamping feet
  • Tapping the table
  • Beating musical instruments
  • Tap sticks together

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The Six Syllables to Teach 

Closed Syllable

These syllables end in a consonant. The vowel has a short vowel sound, like in the word fan. Some examples of closed first syllables are:

ad-mit, un-fit, thun-der, cab-in, hab-it, lap-top

Open Syllable

These syllables end in a vowel. The vowel has a long sound, like in the word so. Some examples of open first syllables are:

a-pron, ra-dar, ba-con, u-nit, tu-lip, pi-lot, lo-cate

Vowel-Consonant-e Syllable

These syllables are found at the end of a word. The final e is silent and makes the vowel in that syllable long, like in the word shake. Some examples of vowel-consonant-e syllables are:

con-fuse, camp-fire, cup-cake, es-cape, ex-plode, flag-pole, cos-tume

Vowel Team Syllable

These syllables have two vowels next to each other that make one sound together like in the word boot. Some examples of vowel team syllables are:

eight-y, dis-count, teach-ing, tug-boat, dug-out, dis-count

Consonant plus -le Syllable

These syllables end in -le, like in the word puddle. Some examples of consonant plus -le syllables are:  

cud-dle, pur-ple, crac-kle, frec-kle, snif-fle

R-Controlled Syllable

These syllables contain a vowel followed by an r. The r will change the way the vowel is pronounced, like in the word car. Some example of r-controlled syllables are:

hor-net, bom-bard, far-mer, tar-nish, mor-sel, bor-der



Thank you for reading my post today.  You might also enjoy reading my previous posts:

Multisyllabic Words – How to Teach Them

How to Teach Spelling Words

How to Teach Letters and Sounds Correctly


Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program.  The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that is used by teachers, tutors, and homeschooling parents worldwide with great success.

PRIDE Reading Program  

Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at info@pridereadingprogram.com or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com