The Six Syllable Types: More on Closed Syllables

gif_book121As a recap, closed syllables have one short vowel and end in one or more consonant. Examples include: chip, click, hap·pen, chip·munk, splash, etc. Closed syllables can be paired with other syllable types; but when you first begin teaching, try to stick to words with only closed syllables. Also, highlight blends and digraphs (see previous posts on those), as many closed syllable words are made with these letter combinations.

Some ideas to teach closed syllables include:

  • Make syllable cards and have students form words. (Anytime you can include a multi-sensory approach, this is helpful.)
  • Give students words with closed syllables and have them circle the short vowel and underline the ending consonant(s).
  • Give students simple sentences and have them identify the closed syllables by the method listed above. For example: The cat sat by the plump pig (circle the vowel).

Closed Syllable Exceptions

Of course, in English, there are always exceptions. Here are some of the more common exceptions:

  • ild, as in child, mild, wild
  • ind, as in blind, kind, mind
  • old, as in cold, mold, told.
  • olt, as in bolt, colt, jolt
  • ost, as in host, most, post

In these instances, the vowel makes a long sound, rather than the short vowel sound, as is typical in closed syllables. It is helpful to teach the sound and spelling of these letter combinations, as they are fairly common.

Remember, teaching/learning syllable types takes time, and there needs to be a lot of repetition and review. Still, over time, your students who struggle with reading will start to have the tools they need to attack reading and spelling.

The Six Syllable Types: Closed Syllables

jpg_4289-Owl-Teacher-Cartoon-Character-With-A-Pointer-2Closed Syllables are the most common type of syllable. Before you begin, students should understand the definition of a syllable: a word, or part of a word, made by one push of breath. Practice clapping the syllable, tapping the syllable, etc. Students should also know the difference between a consonant and a vowel (you’d be surprised), and be able to identify short and long vowel sounds.

Closed Syllables:

  • Have only one vowel.
  • The vowel sound is short.
  • The vowel is followed by one or more consonant (hence, “closed-in”).

Examples of closed syllables are: clap, tip, graph, pic·nic (two closed syllables).

Why teach closed syllables?

Personally, I like to give ownership back to students for their learning. When you teach this rule, and students understand it, you can give prompts such as, “This word has a closed syllable.” The cue being: one short vowel, ends in a consonant(s).

We’ll discuss teaching ideas in the next post.

The Six Syllable Types


These are six syllable types that make up the majority of words in English.

They are:

1. Closed Syllables
2. Open Syllables
3. Vowel-Consonant-e Syllable
4. Consonant-le Syllable
5. R-Controlled Syllables
6. Vowel Teams

What are the benefits in learning these six types?

English is a very complicated language, and teaching the syllabication principles will help your child/student chunk words down into more manageable parts. This, in turn, will help with overall reading skills and identify of spelling patterns.

This will also be especially beneficial for students who have a specific learning disability in reading. Research supports that teaching phonics is the most effective type of reading instruction for students with dyslexia.

In the upcoming weeks, I will tackle the different syllable types. Whether a refresher, or new material, I hope this series helps!

Spelling Rules and Phonics, Part IV


Today is Phonics 101. I have been going over some of the lesser known spelling rules, but was thinking I shouldn’t assume everyone is familiar with the basics of beginning spelling and reading.


Here are the steps to teach beginning reading and spelling:

  • Teach the alphabet.
  • Teach the letter sounds. This includes consonants and short and long vowel sounds.
  • Begin with reading CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant such as: cat, bet, sit, cot) and beginning sight words (these are very common words such as: the, are, was).
  • Teach basic CVCe words. These are words with a long vowel sound and a silent /e/ at the end (bake, kite, hose, etc.).
  • Teach blends and digraphs (typically with short vowel sounds first). Blends are two (or three) consonants where you say each sound (such as: clasp, mask, fist) and digraphs where two consonants make one new sounds (ch, ck, ph, sh th, wh with words like:  such, duck, shut, which, etc.).
  • Teach students about simple syllables along the way. A syllable is a word or part of a word made by one push of the breath.

Next week, we will be looking at syllables. There are six major syllable types and this is where teaching phonics gets more specific!

Have a happy Friday!

Spelling Rules and Phonics, Part II

jpg_4289-Owl-Teacher-Cartoon-Character-With-A-Pointer-2Here is an interesting bit of trivia you may not realize, and it will help to explain an irregular spelling pattern.

Have you ever noticed that words in English do not end in the letter v?

Because of this rule, we add a silent e after a /v/, and it will not necessarily make the prior vowel make a long sound.

This helps to explain why we have words that follow the typical long vowel silent e rule such as five, hive, gave, (long vowel/consonant/silent e) and then words like: give, have, extensive, expansive, pensive, responsive, etc. (short vowel/consonant/silent e).

I’ve heard it said, “The v refuses to be last!”

Spelling Rules and Phonics, Part I

jpg_Education048I was taught to read by sight. The only spelling rule I can remember being taught was “i before e except after c.”

For our students with specific learning disabilities (specifically, dyslexia), some of the spelling patterns which many learn somewhat intuitively need to be taught specifically and systematically.

Do you know the rule for when to use a /c/ versus a /k/ for the beginning of a word followed directly by a vowel?

A hard /c/ and /k/ make the same sound, which can be confusing.

Here is the rule:

  • If the word is directly followed by the vowels a, o, or u, it begins with a c.                    Examples are: cat, cash, camp, cot, cod, coddle, cut, cup, cub.
  • If the word if directly followed by the vowels e or i, it begins with a k.                   Examples are: key, keep, kettle, kit, king, kitten

Of course, in English, there are always some exceptions to the rule. I hope this helps, and be sure to teach the same rule over multiple days so it really sticks!

Online Reading Resources I Like

I thought I would share some of the online reading resources that I like and have found useful. For all of these, they ask that you create a login account.

  •  These are free books online, and the selection changes.
  •  This has a free component where you can enter spelling words, play games, and practice. There is also a paid component, but you can just use the free portion.
  • (and is the next level)  This is a paid program, but you can do a two week trial to see if your child/student likes it. (If you are a teacher, it is a four week trial). This is a phonics based program, and the one I would recommend for students with specific learning disabilities/struggling with reading.
  •  This is a paid program with a one week free trial. It has leveled books, comprehension quizzes, worksheets, and also reading passages that allow you to determine a student’s fluency. There are a lot of good nonfiction stories that I like to use.
  •  This is also a paid program with many of the same stories as readinga-z, but it has more of a game theme with points students can earn, and students can record themselves as they read the stories (something most students love to do). There is a two week free trial.

This is not a paid endorsement!

It is interesting, some students really like one program over the other, so look for the best fit for your child/students.

I haven’t included links, so just copy and paste addresses in your browser if you are interested. Also, if you have any other reading programs you like, please share!

Test Taking Strategies for Reading and Writing

gif_Education-031-bwState testing has arrived. Students have worked hard all year, and now it’s time for them to show what they know!

Students will be expected to:

  • Answer multiple choice questions
  • Write short constructed responses to reading
  • Write a paragraph(s) (younger students)
  • Write an extended piece (older students)
  • Edit

The tests vary slightly from state to state, but general test-taking principles apply across the board. Ideally, these skills should be taught all year long. Still, it is always good idea to do a refresher of test taking tips and strategies with your students/children before they test:

  • Read all the answers before you mark one. Often all of the answers have some relationship to the text.  Pick the one that is most related to the text.
  • Look back at the passage to locate answers. Think about where in the passage the answer might be found and read that part.
  • When writing, make sure you write to the prompt and use the language of the prompt in your paragraph or essay.
  • Make a plan to keep the writing organized. Include a beginning, middle, and end.
  • Be sure to include interesting details.
  • Reread your writing prompt to check for capitalization, punctuation, and any errors.

Keep in mind, state testing is only once a year, and offers just a “snap shot” of students’ capabilities.

These test taking strategies and skills are good for all year long. They may seem a little obvious, but I see students make these type of mistakes (e.g. not reading all the choices, etc.) all the time! I hope this helps.

Fun Free Sight Word Memory Game!

Students can play a fun game and work on sight words!

Do you remember playing a card game where you placed the cards face down, and then picked two cards to see if they matched? If the cards didn’t match, you turned the two cards back face down. The goal was to remember where the cards were when face down, and then match two cards to make a pair. Once you made a pair, you got to keep them and take another turn. (I think that is how it was played!)

You can play this game using sight words!

I have included a free download for beginning sight words (print or copy twice). You can also easily make your own using index cards or a computer. Be sure to have the kids read the words when they play, and help students until they recognize the word by sight.

Download here/2 pages: Sight Word Flash Cards

Sight Word Flash Cards-1