The silent e syllable type is taught after the closed-syllable type with consonant blends. Remember there are 6 syllable types. We use the acronym VELCRO to remember all of the types. The types are Vowel Team Syllables, Silent E Syllables, Consonant +Le Syllables, Closed Syllables, R controlled Vowels Syllables, and Open Syllables. The first thing we want to do is remind students what a syllable is. A working definition is A syllable is a word, or part of a word with at least one sounded vowel. If there is not a vowel sound you can hear then it is not a syllable.
Why do we have a silent e
English is a wonderfully complex language with a fascinating history. The Silent E Syllable, ‘Magic E’ or ‘Sneaky E’ was not always silent but that changed over time. A ‘Magic E’ can be found in many of the words we use today, all thanks to a shift in sounds that occurred during Middle and Modern English.
This silent letter makes the vowel transition from the short vowel in CVC words to the long vowel sound. It’s one example out of countless ways vowels have been used over time – just another intriguing component of our language!
What is the Silent E Syllable Type?
The VCe syllable, also known as the vowel-consonant-E type, is a teaching staple in phonics education. In CVCE words, the syllabic structure features a long first vowel and a silent final “e”. It’s typically introduced after students have mastered closed syllables. The Silent e has 8 different jobs in English.
Set up Expectations for the Jobs of Silent E
While teachers would not want to introduce all of those jobs initially I often just mention that the silent e has many jobs. This sets up the expectation that making the vowel sound long is not the only job of the silent e. For example, silent e has the job of keeping a word from ending in the letter <v>. So when introducing the high-frequency word ‘have’ I mention this rule to students.
5 Steps to teaching the silent e syllable type in the classroom
Use Key word cards or sound sheets
First, students can practice the concept of the long e sound with cards or sound sheets to teach each sound with a keyword. Some of my students are helped by keywords and others get distracted by them. They become too dependent on them.
When you use keyword cards make sure to present the letter patterns without pictures as well. Present one pattern at a time. You can also teach silent E with an anchor chart.
Vowel consonant e combinations are a_e, i_e, o_e, e_e, u_e (makes 2 sounds long U and the oo sound) Explain that sometimes it is too difficult for our mouth to say certain words like ‘flute.’
Do Writing and Listening Activities
Have students listen for long and short vowel sounds. Auditory discrimination between long and short sounds is essential. Have students listen to word lists and students label details whether the word vowel sound is long or short.
They can do worksheets to write a breve for the short sound or write a macron for the long sound. So if we have a word like ‘hop’ and the magic e can make a new word ‘hope’. (e.g. cop-cope, hat-hate, Tim-time, cub-cube). These worksheets will help students spell with these patterns as well.
Then I have students write word families. The student says a closed syllable (e.g. ‘ap’ and then says the silent e syllable ‘ape’-auditory) I use simultaneous processing. Students say the word family and then say the letters as they write them (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). Then the student underlines the silent e syllable and says the syllable again. (visual, auditory). This multisensory process is important for students who struggle. This process helps with reading fluency and with spelling.
Play Games to practice
Play with Closed and Silent E Syllable Cards Make cards with closed and silent e game cards, having words like hop/hope, lin/line, cut/cute, not/ note (with the ‘Magic e’ folding piece). It is a fun multisensory way for practicing these tricky vowel changes.
Sign Up for my free resource library and get game cards and an anchor chart to play “Memory”, “Go Fish” or “Bang.” Not only will these games help kids read the ‘Magic E’ words but they will give teachers a chance to work on vocabulary and word meaning. Have students read silent e words and use them in the context of sentences.
Orthographically Map the Changing Syllable Types
Use an orthographic mapping sheet to have students map those sounds from auditory memory to the visual representation of those sounds.
Read Aloud Decodable Passages to Develop Fluent Readers
It is helpful to build the foundation with silent e words and sentences. But one of the best ways to build a student’s fluency and understanding of the silent e syllable is to read the bossy e in the context of a story. Having the students search for and highlight the words beforehand is helpful.
It also helps the student to understand that this syllable type is not only isolated phonics words.
Further Study with two-syllable Words
After achieving fluency with the beginning concept of silent e. Students can use the silent ‘e’ as a springboard to further explore phonics. This concept will help them grasp decoding longer words made up of two syllables and understand how they fit together, such as VCCV ‘reptile’, ‘ignite’, and ‘stampede’. We can help the students can do simple syllable division with vowel consonant e words.
In conclusion, the silent e syllable type is a common feature of English writing that can be difficult for some students to master. However, with proper instruction and practice activities such as keyword cards and sound sheets, writing and listening activities, game playing, orthographic mapping, and reading decodable passages – teachers can ensure students become familiar with VCe syllables. With these strategies in place, students will be better equipped for reading success.