Lately, since Owen’s mastered pumping on the swings, we’ve spent a whole lot of time in our back yard–just swinging.
Most of the time, we chat about important things like bugs, school, the pool, clouds, and our friends while my kiddos put in some air time, but other times I try to–you got it–sneak in a little bit of learning while we’re out back.
What we did today seems so small, but it can really help little ones develop that super-important skill of phonemic awareness.
- Syllable Clapping: All we did today was clap out syllables in words; I started by clapping as I said each person’s name.
I said, Mad-dy (and I clapped twice), O-wen (clapped twice), Co-ra (clapped twice), and Mom-my (clapped twice again). Listen to each of our names. Mad-dy, O-wen, Co-ra, Mom-my. For each of our names, I clapped two times. Each of our names has two syllables. A syllable is like a beat–ba-bum, ba-bum, ba-bum–in music.
Let’s try Madeline. How many beats do you hear in Maddy’s full name–Ma-de-line (clapped three times)? Right! Three. How about Daddy? Dad-dy. Two.
What other names can you think of that we can clap out? We did Daddy, Golden, Guinea (of course). Then they took turns calling out things in the yard–ball, bat, sandbox.
We talked about words that had one syllable and words that had more. I asked if they could think of the longest word they could with the most beats (I used ‘beat’ and ‘syllable’ interchangeably because I knew that Maddy and Owen like to ‘own’ new and long words, but I didn’t want to totally lose Cora). I have high hopes.
They came up with ‘refrigerator’–pretty impressive!
Then I called out a category, like food, animals, family members, and toys, and we clapped the syllables for those words. Then the phone rang, we got off-track, and that was the end of our game.
Here’s why clapping syllables is totally worth your while:
Phonemic awareness is one component of phonological awareness. It is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words. Once children understand that language is made up of words, they can learn that those words are made up of different sounds. Being able to clap out syllables in words will help them to segment those words and to isolate sounds, which will ultimately assist them in both writing words and in decoding words.
A huge way to develop phonological awareness–the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sound units in words–is with rhyming, reciting nursery rhymes, playing rhyme games, sorting rhyming words. When you are working on rhymes, you’re helping little ones to recognize sound units in words; when they can pick out these sound units, they’ll be more able to hear the individual sounds. Win-win!
Thanks, thanks, and more thanks to:
Patricia Cunningham’s Phonics They Use: Words for Reading and Writing, 3rd Edition (Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, 2000). Another awesome resource!