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Generative Syllables


This activity guides students to segment words into syllables, and then to identify additional words that contain each of the component syllables.  Students create a chart with a syllable at the top of each column, and then they fill each column with other words that contain that syllable.  Through this process, students gain an appreciation of syllable structure, and also an ability to recognize familiar syllables across words. 

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
  • Inferring
Word Study

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation

Content Areas 

  • ELA

Learning Strands 

  • Reading

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Academic Vocabulary


  • Ensure that students have a reference sheet that reviews what a syllable is, the six syllable types, and the rules of syllable division. 
  • Select one or more key words.  Key words should contain multiple syllables, and should be easily divided into syllables using standard rules of syllable division.
  • Prepare a model chart.  Divide a word into syllables, and create a chart with as many columns as the word has syllables.  Write a syllable at the top of each column.  Then, fill each column with other words containing that syllable. 
  • Gather large blank pieces of paper (like chart paper) and markers, or prepare to use a computer program that allows students to create tables and charts freely.


Activity Steps 
  1. The teacher reviews what a syllable is, the six syllable types, and the rules of syllable division. Teacher refers students to reference sheets. Class discusses the value of knowing syllable types and of syllabification.
    A syllable is a word or part of a word with one vowel sound.
    Longer words cannot effectively be decoded sound-by-sound, and so must be decoded syllable-by-syllable.  Students need to be able to divide words into syllables accurately in order to do so.  Syllable type determines the sound a vowel will make in a syllable, and the accent pattern of a word.  Students need to know syllable types in order to know how to pronounce a word accurately.


  2. Teacher displays model syllable chart, and discusses how it was created. Class discusses how this activity might be useful.

    Your chart should use a different word from the one students will use.   

  3. Students prepare to work alone or in groups, using either chart paper/markers or a computer. Teacher gives each group one or more key words.

    You can easily differentiate the difficulty of this activity by giving students words of differing levels of complexity. 

  4. Students divide words into syllables, using standard rules of syllable division.

    You may want to provide students with a reference sheet summarizing syllable types and rules of syllable division.   Circulate as students are working.  Ask them about their thoughts and their process, and ensure that they are correctly dividing words.       

  5. Students create a table with as many columns as the word has syllables. Students write a syllable at the top of each column.

    Circulate as students are working, asking about what they are thinking. Encourage them to explain how they divided the word into syllables, and how they know the syllable types and pronunciations.

  6. Students identify as many words as they can that contain each syllable, and they write these words in the appropriate columns.

    Encourage students to brainstorm words, and also to use internet searches and dictionaries.    

  7. Teacher leads students in a discussion about the words they found, and how they can use their recognition of common syllables to read and spell words more easily and accurately.

    You may want to demonstrate how recognizing syllable-level chunks of words can facilitate rapid and accurate decoding. 

  8. Alone or in groups, in conversation or in writing, students reflect on their learning process.
    Students respond to questions including:
    • How can knowing syllable structure help you to decode a word?
    • How can knowing syllable structure help you to spell a word?
    • How can you use words you already know to read or spell new words? 
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