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Dividing words into sound parts (syllables) is an important skill for decoding. Syllables also give words their rhythm and contribute to fluency. 


  • Say the word out loud
  • Listen for the vowel sound(s) in each word
  • Clap or hold up a finger for each sound part or beat
  • Pay attention to your mouth shape
  • Feel your jaw or chin drop
  • Start with compound words

Did you know?

All syllables must have a vowel. It can be surrounded by consonants or not, and can form a word or part of a word.

See It In Action


Learn about dividing words and counting syllables with Scratch Garden:


Try this Clamped Lips approach from Reading Rockets:

  1. We dictate words in a natural manner.
    Avoid dictating haltingly: “mon [pause] ster”
    Dictate words as they are said, not as they are spelled. For example, say ‘DOC-ter’ not ‘doct-OR’.
  2. All students repeat the word.
  3. All students shout the word with clamped lips.
  4. All students show how many syllables using their fingers.

Read More: 

All About Learning article on 'How to Teach Syllables' 

Using the Six Syllable Types to Teach Word Attack Skills

Add Complexity:

Try dividing supercalifragilisticexpialidocious into syllables.

Cut words up into syllables. Write each syllable on an index card. Mix up the index cards. Have readers arrange the syllables to form the words.