Counting Syllables: Free Printables to Teach Syllables

March 20, 2023

Sarah Shelton

Sarah Shelton

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Did you know that counting syllables is an important part of teaching children how to read? There are many fun activities to teach young children about the concept of syllables, how to count syllables, syllable division and why it’s important to understand.

Counting Syllables: Free Printables to Teach Syllables

Counting Syllables

Counting syllables is a fun activity to help your children learn and understand words and what they are made up of. There are many word building activities you can use to get your kids excited about Grammar and English. 

Number Of Syllables Decided by Number of Vowels Sounds

The number of syllables that are in a word are decided by how many vowel sounds that word has. For example, the word sit has the short i vowel sound. It only has one vowel sound and is one syllable long. The word seek has two vowels, but only one vowel sound of long e making it also one syllable long. 

Other multi-syllable words also have more than one vowel such as the word cousin which has the short u sound and short i sound. There are two vowel sounds in this word, so this word has two syllables.

Short vowel sounds in the International Phonetic Alphabet are

  • /ɪ/-sit
  • e/-met
  • /æ/-hat
  • /ʌ/-hut
  • /ʊ/-put
  • /ɒ/-log
  • /ə/-about

Long vowel sounds in the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

  • /i:/-seek
  • /ɑ:/-hard
  • /ɔ:/-cork
  • /ɜ:/-heard
  • /u:/-scoot

Diphthong vowel sounds in the International Phonetic Alphabet are:

  • /eɪ/-place
  • /oʊ/-home
  • /aʊ/-house
  • /ɪə/-clear
  • /eə/-scare
  • /ɔɪ/-toy
  • /aɪ/-find
  • /ʊə/-pour

Why Is Understanding Syllables Important?

Understanding syllables is important for early reading skills. Breaking words down into pieces makes it easier for kids to read. A young learner can get confused with large multi-syllable words when they are used to reading only one-syllable words. 

Decoding Words

Dividing words into word chunks is the best way to help younger children to decode unfamiliar words. When they understand what syllables are, they can decode these unknown words much faster.

Some other helps for decoding words is to learn about contractions for kids and hang up educational posters to help with decoding.

Helps Build Reading Skills

Young readers have a lot to remember as they are learning how to read. You may use a phonics chart or consonant blend activities  to help them with phonemic awareness skills.

These resources will help them with consonant blends and sounding words out. Syllable counting is another learning process that helps build reading skills.

Builds Spelling Skills

Breaking up a longer word into pieces helps your child to spell the word easier than remembering each letter and letter sound.

There are lots of fun spelling activities that can help your kids with spelling and vocabulary  while also building vocabulary skills. 

How to Count Syllables

You may be wondering “How can we recognize the syllables in a word?”.

Easy Methods for Counting Syllables

These easy methods for counting syllables are what you may remember doing when you were in grade school. These are common methods that use the beat of the words to help your kids recognize syllables.

Chin Method

Have your child rest their hand open underneath their chin. Begin to say a word very slowly. How many times did your chin hit your hand? That is the number of syllables found in that word.

You may want to do this a number of times with a single word until your kids understand what is happening. It is a great hands-on way for them to recognize syllables.

Clap Method

The clap method is one of the most common methods used in teaching syllables. If you get together with a group of kids like a whole class it is a lot of fun. Have your child hold their hands far apart from each other.

Call out a word and slowly clap through the breaks in each word. Each clap is the amount of syllables the word has. 

Syllables Examples

Use these words to help practice teaching your students how to count syllables by using the chin or clap method mentioned above.

Single-Syllable Words:

  • car
  • home
  • phone
  • rail
  • vane

Two-Syllable Words:

  • attic
  • cactus
  • edit
  • picket
  • robin

Three-Syllable Words:

  • basketball
  • classical
  • enchanted
  • dependent
  • pelican

Four-Syllable Words:

  • discovery
  • economy
  • education
  • observation
  • television

Focus On The Vowel Sounds

Teaching kids to focus on the vowel sounds will help them learn how to hear the syllables count. Check out the activities below that can help students learn how to count syllables

Activities For Helping Kids Understand Syllables

Here are some more fun and creative activities to help kids understand syllables. 

Syllable Stomp

A different method for learning syllables is by having your kids stomp out the words. Start reading a list of words very slowly. Have your kids stomp through each break in the word. Add up the stomps and that is how many syllables are in the word. 

Syllable Hop

Syllable hop is similar to stomping, but instead of loud crazy jumps and stomps your kids can hop the words out. Practice hopping on one foot as you say the words. You can hop in place with one syllable and hop forward each time there is another syllable.

Do this with multi-syllable words until your children make it all the way across the room. 

Dot Markers

Give your child a dot marker and a sheet of paper. Have them hold their marker up in the air and wait as you read a word. They will dot the page each time they hear a syllable in the word. 

Hum the Word

Have your child close their mouth and hum a word. Start small with the word cat. They will feel the vibrations on their lips as they say the word. Add a larger word like apple. Can you hear the syllables through the hum? Apple has two syllables. 

Count with Fingers

Counting with fingers to recognize syllable is similar to clapping the sounds. Say the word slowly but hold up a finger for each syllable you hear. This is a great way to actually see the number of syllables as you are saying the word.

Play Clapping Games

Clapping games is another hands-on way to teach syllables. You can play this game with your child or have them play it with their siblings. Put your hands out like a patty-cake game. Call out the word and clap each other’s hands each time you hear a syllable.

You can try lots of words quickly to see how fast you can clap and recognize the syllables.

Robot Speak

Pretend that you are a robot and speak in a robot voice nice and slow. Each spoken word is enunciated like a robot would sound. This is a great way to hear the individual sound of the syllables in longer words such as fan-tas-tic or ex-cla-ma-tion.

Counting Syllables Worksheets

Count and Clap -Practice identifying syllables by reading the word and clapping out the number of syllables. After your child figures out the number, they will fill in the bubble.

Dividing Words – Find the word that has been divided into syllables based on how it is pronounced.

Count and Color Activity – This fun activity will have your child recognize the picture, say the word, count the syllables and mark them down. When they are done they can color the pictures in.

Activities to Develop Phonological Awareness – These worksheets will help your kids count, sort and dot the syllables. There is even a syllable assessment sheet to help you see where they are at with their understanding.

Dot the Syllables -This is a fun and simple way to get kids excited about counting syllables. They will dot the numbers that match the number of syllables that are in the word presented.

syllables printable

Online Syllable Counter

An online syllable counter will calculate the number of syllables in a word. You can type in a word at a time or a complete sentence and it will calculate the word for you. 

Counting Syllables FAQ

These are some of the most common questions when learning about counting syllables.

How do you teach counting syllables?

You can teach syllables with worksheets, hands-on activities, and by getting your child moving to work out the sounds. 

What is the purpose of counting syllables?

The purpose of counting syllables is to teach your kids how to decode words and read words correctly and with more fluency.

What age do kids count syllables?

Counting syllables is a pre-reading skill that is normally taught in preschool and kindergarten. It is also quite often reinforced in the first and second grade.

How do you count syllables easily?

The easiest way to count syllables is by counting the vowels that are in the word. As we have mentioned there are many different ways to count syllables. You can do this with the clap method, chin method or any other methods. As long as you are able to count, you can count the syllables. 

What is the rule for syllables?

Every syllable must have a vowel with a talking vowel sound in it. Closed syllables end with a consonant which closes the syllable and makes the vowel short. An open syllable ends with a vowel, which is long.

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