toy green dinosaur holding a skateboard. syllable spelling example

How To Teach Spelling and Reading to Beginner Readers

How To Teach Spelling and Reading to Beginner Readers

What is Syllable Spelling

Learning how to spell words goes hand in hand with learning how to read and write. But oftentimes, parents wonder how to teach spelling to beginning readers.

One of the easiest ways to do this is through syllable spelling. As children begin to develop phonemic awareness - [the specific ability to focus on and manipulate sounds (phonemes) in spoken words], they are able to identify syllables.  

Syllables are the parts of a word that contain phonemes. Another way to refer to a syllable is the “beat” of the word. 

Clapping out a word is an easy and fun way to hear the number of beats or syllables in a word. 

Since all words have at least one or more syllables, children can practice clapping the syllables of any word. 

Try On Your Own

To do this, say the name of a word such as “blanket”. Then clap once for each part of the word you hear: blank (clap) - et (clap) so blanket has two syllables (claps).  


For Example: 

cat cat (clap)   one syllable 

flower:  flow (clap) -  er (clap)   two syllables

dinosaur:  din (clap) - o (clap) - saur (clap)   three syllables

television:  tel (clap) - e (clap) - vi (clap) - sion (clap)   four syllables 

Clapping syllables can be done anywhere at any time. If you want to take it a step further, you can sort household objects into groups depending on the number of syllables they contain.

Advanced Syllable Spelling

You may have noticed from the examples listed above, that every syllable has a vowel. Once children have begun to learn about vowels and how to identify syllables, they are ready for syllable spelling. 

Now they can spell a word by writing the sounds they hear in each syllable of the word (remembering that each syllable has to have a vowel).

Try On Your Own

A good way to introduce syllable spelling is divide a piece of paper into at least four columns or make a line for each syllable. Say a word.  Write the sounds you hear for each syllable on the lines or in the column.  

For example: 

pen:    pen     (one syllable)

napkin:  nap   kin    (two syllables)

restaurant:  res   taur   ant   (three syllables)

watermelon:   wa  ter  mel  on  (four syllables)

Breaking words into syllables is a great way to practice spelling words.  It works particularly well for longer words and is a helpful strategy to use in writing.

Another great way to introduce your child to spelling and reading is through the Pre-K Letter Learning Kit and the Pre-K On The Go Pack

Any questions?  Please email us at  Taylor Burke is a teacher and Director of Communications at Neighborhood Lit. and works closely with Janice Migliazza, a Reading Specialist and owner of Neighborhood Lit, Route 34, Colts Neck to bring you this information.