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I'm delighted that you have taken the time to drop anchor here at my little teaching blog: Sailing Though 1st Grade! Oh, the places we will go! Enjoy the voyage.

Feb 8, 2012

Silly Syllables Under the Sea

Over the weekend I created Silly Syllables Under the Sea: a nonsense word game designed to practice decoding using the rules for open and closed syllables and to help students break apart and sound out those multisyllabic words.

My students love this game and it has improved their decoding skills tremendously. Even my own children (a 3rd and 5th grader) love to play it.
If you haven't yet tried decoding nonsense words with your students - I higly recommend you consider doing so... The students really learn their phonics rules.

On Monday, I began by placing one of the cards under the document camera so we could all see it on the screen. Then, we located the vowels. Next, we decided how many consonants between the vowels.

If 2 consonants fell between the vowels, we learned that you usually divide the word into syllables between the consonants. If only one consonant, then you usually divide after the vowel.

Finally, I taught them that syllables ending in a vowel are called "OPEN" and usually have a long vowel sound. Syllables with a consonant after the vowel are "CLOSED" and are pronounced with a short vowel sound.

When we play the game... we play as if these rules always apply! (Even though we know that there are always exceptions to the rules!)

After I introduced these two rules, I divided the class into 2 teams and they competed against each other. Every child was expected to figure out what the nonsense word was and then confirm whether the child who drew the card and had to read it for their team was correct or not.   I simply tallied each correct answer for the teams to determine the winner.  Every child was engaged!

The next day we played again, same teams, but this time a correct answer sent you to first base (a corner in the room), and the following players advanced you around the bases until you scored a run when you hit home plate. Of course, 3 strikes and your team is out! Another fun activity... and the students' decoding skills... well... All I can say is WOW!!!

Also... now that my students have the basics down, I have a new game to add to my literacy centers. In the small group version of the game, players try to collect as many cards as possible to win. Cards are earned by correctly decoding the words. 6 Shark Attack cards are also included - and if drawn, require the player to return all of their cards to the pile. Just like BAM!
If you are interested, Silly Syllables Under the Sea is available now in my TPT Store. The file includes (90) 2-syllable nonsense words using both the VC-CV and V-CV patterns. A second copy of all 90 cards is included with syllable breaks (example: zip-zot, hi-nog)


  1. Adorable! Where did you get your handwriting lines from?

  2. Wow, Wow, Wow! I just found your blog and LOVE it! Thanks for sharing so many wonderful things!

    I have NEVER seen such organization for Open Court! I'm not a fan of OC but this may have just given me some inspiration! I look forward to 'stalking' your page often!!!


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