Games to Decode Multisyllabic Words

When children first learn to read, they come across simple words, such as "dog," "house" and "nut." As they advance in grade level, they may confront unfamiliar multisyllabic words, such as "inhabit" and "submersible." By breaking words down into smaller parts, known as orthographic chunks, students can decode multisyllabic words to arrive at their meaning. Use games to provide students with engaging ways to break down and knit together complex words.

  1. Syllable Cards

    • Write multisyllabic words on the blackboard, dividing them into syllables by leaving a space between each word part. Have students use syllable spelling conventions, such as open and closed syllables and consonant plus --le, to read aloud each word. Make a list of multisyllabic words from texts in upcoming reading lessons. Divide them into syllables and write each syllable on an index card. Repeat this process for two additional lists of words. Divide the students into three groups. Give each group a stack of jumbled index cards that matches a list of words. Inform the students that the first group to arrange the index cards into a list of multisyllabic words wins the game.


    • Have the class sit in a circle on the floor. Ask them if they can count the count the syllables in the word "basketball." Clap on each syllable as you say the word "basketball." Repeat the word, but ask the children to clap with you. Have students take turns clapping on the syllables of a complex word that you give them. If they miss a syllable, they're out of the game. Increase the difficulty of the words until the last student clapping is the winner.


    • Have the students find a partner. Hand a mirror to each pair of students. Have one student in each pair say a series of multisyllabic words while looking in the mirror. Ask the other student to write down the number of times his partner opens his mouth while saying the word. Have the students repeat the exercise, only this time ask them to count the number of syllables in each word and record the data in a table. Instruct students to compare the number of syllables to the number of mouth openings for each word. Do the numbers match or not?


    • Create three multisyllabic word puzzles by writing down three lists of multisyllabic words on strips of paper and cutting them into puzzle pieces. Write the number of the puzzle on the back of each puzzle piece. Place all of the puzzle pieces in a paper bag. Have each student draw one puzzle piece from the bag. Ask students to locate the other students in their puzzle group, and then piece together their puzzle. Inform them that the first group to complete their multisyllabic word puzzle and write each word in a sentence wins the game.

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