Today we are going to look at one of my favorite activities. I love using syllable puzzles. My students enjoy them and they are very effective when teaching two and three syllable words. I will give you lots of ideas on how to use this popular manipulative. I’ve also included a useful recording sheet for free!
I use a five-part lesson plan for most of my students. The first part is review/drill. The second part is dictation. The third part is new work/ manipulatives. The fourth is reading and last is the game. This activity fits into part three of my lesson plan.
I include syllable puzzles in most of my TpT teaching packets and in my vocabulary enrichment units for Level Three and up. The ones in this post are from Two and Three Closed Syllable Packet. You can also make your own using whatever word list your student is working on. I like to use a half an index card for each word.
Syllable puzzles are useful for all syllable types starting at Level Three (two or three closed syllables). There are several different activities that you can do with these puzzles.
Choose an appropriate number of puzzles for your student. I usually use 8-12 in an individual tutoring lesson but will use more or less depending on the needs and abilities of the students. Use more if you are doing this in a small group. Mix up and spread out the puzzle pieces in columns in front of your student.
Encourage your student to read a first syllable piece and then try to find the match. Each piece intentionally fits more than one other piece. If they match it to a piece and it doesn’t create a word that they recognize, they should try again. If you want to make it even more challenging, sort the cards so that there are fewer variations in the cuts. Continue until all words are matched.
2. Record them in columns
Sometimes I have my students record the words created in a “words in columns” sheet. They simply write the first syllable in the first column, the second in the second column, the third (if you are doing three syllable puzzles) in the third column and the whole word in the last column. I’ve included these sheets in my teaching packets.
You can also pick up a free copy here: >> Words in columns sheet <<
Once this sheet is filled, it should go in the reading notebook. Each reading notebook has a section labeled “syllable patterns”. Words in columns sheets are placed in this section. Remember that these sheets make a great quick review. Have your student open the notebook to a page and read the words they’ve written.
3. Make nonsense words
Occasionally, I use these puzzles to practice two-syllable nonsense words. In this case, place the puzzle pieces face down on the table. Mix them up and have your student put them together without looking at the printed side.
They can then flip the cards and read the nonsense words created.
4. Practice syllable division patterns
You can also simply use these puzzles to practice syllable division. Place the two pieces of a word in front of your student face down. Say the word. Try to say it naturally without pausing between the syllables. The student should repeat the word and then say the first syllable and tap the first puzzle piece. They should then say the second syllable and tap the second piece. If they have divided the word correctly, they can flip the pieces over and read the entire word. You can also use the words in columns sheet to record the words with this activity.
Bonus idea! ID Syllable type
Once you are working with a variety of syllable types, have your student sort the puzzle pieces by syllable type before putting them together to form words.
I hope you can use some of these ideas with your students. Enjoy the free words in columns sheet. You can use it as a recording sheet for syllable puzzles. You can also dictate two and three syllable words and have your student write them on this sheet. I use words in columns in many of my Orton-Gillingham based reading lessons.