Do you have intermediate students who have difficulty breaking multi-syllable words into parts, but would think “clapping” the syllables or using Elkonin boxes to be babyish? Well, here is something that works and has the added “cool” factor that even 5th grade boys will love! Get yourself some drumsticks!
You see, I work with some older students who aren’t able to use the “chunking” strategy to decode words, because they lack the ability to hear the syllables in words. And memorizing rules for syllables? Forget about it! That would go over like a lead balloon! They just need some practice though, and they’ll be on their way. So what’s a teacher to do? Go shopping of course!
The first idea was to get some drums and drum away. Too noisy. The second idea was to get the drumsticks and drum on the table. Since my teeny tiny office is separated from my teaching partner’s teeny tiny office by a thin accordian curtain, the noise we would make drumming on a drum or on the table, wasn’t going to work. Walmart to the rescue! While perusing the clearance aisle looking for things I just had to have (who cares if I didn’t know what to do with it), I found these awesome silicone coasters for $1.00! That makes a teacher’s heart happy right there. They are PERFECT for drum pads! Ha! Next came the drumsticks. These are Kidsticks and I got them from Amazon. Yay! So we were all set.
Today, we started drumming out the syllables in words. Oh my goodness! You should’ve seen the 5th grader’s eyes light up! “We get to use those????” they said! You betcha! (It felt so very Ron Clark-ish to be drumming away, by the way!) So we happily drummed out words like expectations, determination, prosecution, revolution, patriots, declaration, Boston, and many more! (Yes, they are studying the American Revolution in their classes.) Since they really only needed a little boost in this area, they started “getting it” very quickly! Did it apply to their reading? You bet it did! Right away they were much more successful when they decoded multi-syllable words in the book we were reading! Wow! Immediate results is always a win in my book! I’m sure we will have to practice many more times though, since they love it so much! The students in all the other grades who didn’t get to use them today, were so disappointed when they saw them sitting on the counter. I guess tomorrow, all of the grades will have to get to use them, or we might have a reading mutiny on our hands!
So if your kiddles need some extra practice with segmentation…either by syllable or phonemes, go get yourself some drumsticks and some drum pads….er….um….I mean silicone coasters, and get with the beat! On a side note, if you can’t find silicone coasters on the clearance aisle at Walmart, a kneeling pad from the garden section of the dollar store works fabulous too! And who knows, you might discover you have the future rock star drummer in your class! (Just be sure to make him or her promise you a cut of future wages as said rock star drummer! Ha!)
There you go! A quick, engaging, fun and effective idea for teaching syllabication! Happy Teaching!