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Multisyllabic Mixup

June 15, 2017

     We've all been there, either as students or as parent educators. When we learned to read or when we taught our children to read, we started clapping out the syllables. But what if you could make a real game out of syllables, learn a lot, and have some silly times all at once? That's what you can do with Multisyllabic Mixup. 


     Multisyllabic Mixup is like the games kids play where they rotate a head, a body, and legs to match up the correct characters. Only in this instance, you're starting with mixed up words divided by their syllables. You could use vocabulary words, spelling words, or reading words to start. Simply divide the words by syllables. For example, "puppy" would have two parts, "pup" and "py" as would "doghouse ("dog" and "house"). Write the syllables on cards, construction paper, a dry erase board, or even on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. I've even seen this done with cutouts of broken eggs as the kids try to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The point is to get the syllables written down but mixed up. Have your child try to use the syllables to put the words back together. Start with just two or three words and then add more as your child becomes proficient at the game. 



     That's when the real mixup gets started. Mix up syllables to form new words. Ask your child to purposely mix words up into new, silly words such as "dogpup" or "housepy." The words don't have to make sense. In fact, it's good if they don't. This will help kids read the words and the individual sounds (phonemes) without worrying about meaning at all. 


     This strategy can be especially helpful as children progress and begin to learn that specific syllables will always go at the beginning of a word (prefixes) and others will always go at the end (suffixes). Also, teaching children to read new words illustrates a different reading concept as children begin to recognize the similarities between words with the same prefixes and suffixes. This can be helpful later on as they decode new words as they know where to separate the syllables and have already been exposed to those prefixes and suffixes. 


Age/Grade: Elementary; Middle. Scaffold this strategy to make it useful for children in elementary and middle school grades. Use basic 2-syllable words with younger children and progress to more complex words while teaching Latin and Greek etymologies to older students. 


Subject: Language Arts. But you could also use this strategy to help children learn vocabulary for other subjects. 


Learning Style/Preference: Visual and Hands-On

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