Learning syllable types opens up the word of reading- that’s why learning open syllables is so important to students with dyslexia! There are Six syllable types but when students know the open and closed syllables, not only will students be able to decode and write a wide range of words, but this knowledge provides them with the foundation for reading multi syllabic words. With explicit phonics instruction and open syllables in their pocket, these learners will have an edge when it comes to exploring new vocabulary!
What are the Six Syllable Types?
Mastering syllable types can be a cinch with the VELCRO acronym! Remember, it stands for: vowel team syllable type (e.g. vowel combination <ai> saying the long sound for <a> in ‘rain’; vowel consonant e-syllable type (e.g. the word ‘bike’ says the long vowel sound <i> because of the silent e); consonant plus le-syllable type (e.g. the word ‘stable’ is a two-syllable word with an open syllable and a final stable syllable).
Then we have the closed syllable type (e.g the word ‘fast’ with two consonants closing in the short sound for vowel <a>), R controlled type (e.g. (‘bird’ and ‘fern’) — and of course the open syllable type (e.g. ‘pro’ or a multi-syllable word like ‘program’). With this helpful memory trick students will remember the 6 syllable types without a problem.
Why Teach About the Six Syllable Types
In a structured phonics program, children need to learn the six syllable patterns with explicit syllable rules and syllable division instructions. Without this guidance, students may become prone to guessing and random errors and guessing when decoding or encoding unfamiliar words.
Give A Man a Fish Teach a Man to Fish Principle
Teaching about syllable types gives students the ability to tackle unfamiliar words. When we teach syllable types we go beyond the memorization of words. Then students do not just know two words or three words but can generalize the concept and read any unfamiliar word. With just closed and open syllables students can read thousands and thousands of words.
What is an Open Syllable?
Many words have open syllables. An open syllable ends in a single vowel and says the long vowel sound. A closed syllable ends in at least one consonant and the vowel makes a short sound. An open syllable ends in a vowel. The vowels are <a> <e>, <i>, <o>, <u>, and <y> when it is saying the long I vowel sound in a one-syllable word. (e.g. try, fry, my, and by.) See my Y as a Vowel blog post for more on this concept.
When Teaching Open Syllables Review Long and Short Vowel Sounds
Since an open syllable ends in a vowel, before teaching open syllables, students need to have a strong foundation regarding vowel and consonant sounds. Start with an alphabet strip that allows them to identify each vowel to understand their different short or long sounds.
To ensure good understanding among all learners, try pairing hand gestures or keywords along with vocalizing vowel names – this is especially helpful when working with struggling readers and those who may suffer from dyslexia.
Since long vowels say the same sound as their names I also have the students point to the alphabet strip and say the letter names at the beginning of the lesson. They should not sing the alphabet. They should say the alphabet.
Contrast Between Open And Closed Syllables in Spoken Words
I first teach open syllables by having students listen to the spoken word first and identify if a word ends in a consonant sound or a vowel sound.
Air write a Breve or A Macron
Then they can determine if a word has a long or short vowel sound even before introducing a written word. If students hear closed-syllable words with a short vowel sound, then they can draw a breve in the air. If the student hears open syllable words with long vowel sounds, then they can draw a macron in the air.
Open Syllable Syllable Cards in the Freebie Library
Teach Open Syllables with Word Sorts for Open and Closed Syllables
When I teach open syllables, I often will write examples of open and closed syllables on index cards or print them out and have students find out how many open syllable words and how many closed syllable words they can make. It is also good to add nonsense syllables to this activity. If students can identify closed syllables and open syllables in unfamiliar words they are on their way to reading them.
Teach Open Syllables Using Flip Cards
Flip cards are easy to make just write an open syllable like ‘me’ on one side of the paper and a consonant like a <t> to close in the open vowel on the other side of the paper. Then the student can flip the ‘door’ open to say the long vowel sound in the word ‘me’ and flip the ‘door’ closed to read the closed syllable word ‘met’. Children love to switch back and forth from open syllables to closed syllables. This is a fun multisensory way to practice and have fun. They are great for centers and to take home to share with parents. You can get the flip cards above in the freebie library!
Nonsense Syllables are Helpful for Multi syllable Words
Nonsense syllables are useful because after introducing syllable division students can read words with more than one syllable. If students are proficient with nonsense closed syllables and open syllables they can use syllable division to read the long words, Some closed syllable examples would be ‘fantastic’ or ‘vivid’.
A multi-syllable syllable word example for an open syllable could be ‘detect’. The first syllable de- is an open syllable so it has a long vowel sound. The second syllable is a closed syllable with just one vowel sound with a syllable that ends in two consonants. Then the student can easily read the single vowel sound as short.
When teaching open and closed syllables with older learners I sometimes use syllable cards and break up multisyllable words without students having to worry about syllable division. Older students need the motivation to see that they can practice and read long words with just these 2 syllable types.
Use Morphology to Teach Open Syllables
The prefix re-
Lots of prefixes are open syllables. Take the open syllable and prefix re-. Re means “back” or “again”. It can be used to make many multisyllable words. (e.g. repel, rerun, reset, recast, refill, reflex, refit, and remix just to name a few).
The Prefix de-
We can also teach the prefix and open syllable de- which means “down” or “away” with words like a defect, defend, deflect, depend, and depict). Even children and first grade can be excited by reading open and closed syllables with syllable cards this way.
The Prefixes pro- and pre-
Pro- means “forward’ or “for” and is another open syllable that can be taught with syllable cards combined with closed syllables to make new multisyllable words. Examples would be words like propel, profess, program, prolong, proton, and protect. Pre-is an open syllable that means “before” and is in words like prevent, predict, precast, prefix, pretend and preset.
Using morphology helps students to build an understanding of the English Language and to have a more expansive vocabulary. This is especially important for our older students with dyslexia. They sometimes feel that they can only read one-syllable words, but with closed and open syllables on cards the world of reading can open up for them.
Teach Open Syllables using Syllable cards or in Dictation
Many students get excited by spelling 3 syllable words because they are really big words and are often amazed that they can do it by combining open and closed syllables. Here is word list for some of these words: open, logo, demo, disco, dumbo, hippo, jello, micro, hippo, rodent, human, music, hotel, unit, motel, limo, zebra, basic, bacon, silent, banjo, condo, volcano, tomato, potato, tuxedo, rodeo, piano, and tornado. Point out how many of these 3 syllable words can end in a vowel and talk about why the letter <o> may be so prevalent at the end of these words.
|1 Syllable||2 Syllable||3 Syllable|
Doing dictation and orthographic mapping with words like this will increase students’ ability to read and spell these closed and open syllables and will be motivating for even struggling readers and writers. Students can have fun marking the long vowel sound and the short vowel sound in syllables. It is probably not necessary to mark every word and every syllable but it can be helpful to do a few.
Play Games with Open Syllables
Ideas for ending boring lessons! Let your students play and learn at the same time. They’ll be so busy having fun playing memory or concentration with open syllable words, they won’t even realize how much reading practice they are getting in. And don’t forget about Go Fish – all teachers need to do is make 2 copies of our word card resources. Then Print the free open syllable poster from the freebie library for hours of entertainment while improving their literacy skills!
Teach Open Syllables with Decodable Passages
After working with open syllables with syllable cards and sentences, then it is time to introduce these words in the context of a decodable story. Students love being able to show their newfound knowledge and decoding skills in connected text.
Have Students Highlight the Open syllable and Closed Syllable in Different Colors
Have students go through the story with highlighters finding examples of the open syllable and the closed syllable after they highlight the words. Then have them go through and read the story working on fluency and comprehension. I often will have students highlight a multi-syllable word in different colors. This makes it easier for students to see open syllables ending in a vowel with their long vowel sound and closed syllables ending in a consonant sound with their short vowels.
In conclusion, struggling readers will improve their ability to read and comprehend when they can easily identify and read open and closed syllables. Teaching these concepts with syllable cards, dictation, games, decodable passages, and highlighting are effective ways that teachers can help students understand the concepts of open and closed syllables. This knowledge will help our students with dyslexia build a better understanding of the English language and expand their vocabulary. Join the freebie library to get free resources and go to TPT to get even more great resources like games and decodable passages for your students!
Get Free Word Sorts in the Freebie Library
Q: What is a closed syllable?
A: A closed syllable is a syllable that ends in a consonant and has a short vowel sound. For example, words like “cat”, “bed”, and “hop” would be considered to be closed syllables.
Q: What is an open syllable?
A: An open syllable is a syllable that ends in a vowel and has a long vowel sound. For example, words like “go”, “so”, and “no” would be considered to be open syllables. When the letter <y> is saying the long vowel sound /i/ it is also considered an open syllable like in the words “by” and “my”.