top of page

Teaching Decoding Skills for Multisyllable Words

I recently had some questions about the syllable bags my students create in our class. Today, I want to elaborate on this a bit.

I am Orton-Gillingham trained, so I follow OG methods for teaching syllable division and decoding for multisyllable words. It's a multi-step process through with students label vowels and consonants to detect patterns for syllable division.

We do this using highlighters, which my students love. You could easily use markers, but the highlighters are typically something different for them, and we all know how appealing that can make an activity for our students! We use one color to write the word and then a different color to mark letters and divide syllables.

When students are ready to divide, then draw a nice fat line from the top to the bottom of the paper, (I cut paper into skinny strips to use for the words.) fold on the line, and rip that word apart! They really enjoy this part. It's one thing to divide syllables --but to tear them? Pure joy.

After the syllables are divided, my students practice reversing syllables to read the word as a nonsense word, or sometimes they may swap syllables with a partner. It's all about manipulating those chunks of sounds to read with accuracy and fluency. My instruction focuses on decoding skills at the word level, so exercises like this really target my students' needs.

That, and it's fun.

When we are finished labeling, dividing, and manipulating the syllables in a word, my students store the syllables in a zip-lock back I attached inside the back of their folders. It's a simple way to store all of those syllables, but it serves a great purpose for the future as well.

At any point, we can empty our syllable bags and use the word parts to create nonsense words or do a syllable sorting activity. The fact that the students reuse their own work makes it a very personal review experience for them.

At the end of the school year, I send the syllable bags home, and it's like sending home a bag of word puzzle pieces. My students invest a lot of time in those syllable bags throughout the year, so most of them seem really proud to be able to take them home.

January is a GREAT time to implement this into your small-group routine! It takes so little prep work since you build-as-you-go, and at the end of the semester you will have accumulated a great stash of syllables to send home.

I hope that is helpful for you! Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to know more!


Colorful Alphabets
Tally Tales Literacy Logo.png
bottom of page