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Stage 3 - Syllable Awareness

Words are made up of different numbers of ‘beats’ or syllables. Being able to break down words into these syllables helps the child to hear what all the different parts of the word sound like. This can help the child to say the word later on, particularly if they often miss syllables out.

Some children may find it tricky to listen and count at the same time. Included below is a syllable counting line which could be used to help. Your child will need to move their finger along the sections with the numbers 1-4 on as the syllables are said. When the word is finished they can check which number they are on.


*Click here* to download syllable word sheets to use in the activities. 

  • Syllable awareness starts with being able copy a rhythm (e.g. dancing to a beat, clapping out a rhythm). Playing with musical instruments can help this skill: encourage your child to copy you making beats on the drum, or clapping your hands.

    • Children often find it easier to talk about the ‘claps’ or ‘beats’ in a word rather than the ‘syllables.’ For example “how many claps are in banana?” (ba-na-na = 3)
    • Look at one object/picture at a time and clap the syllables as you say the word. It may help to break the spoken word down slightly, so that your child can hear you saying the syllables (e.g. say ‘di-no-saur’, rather than ‘dinosaur’).

    Encourage your child to join in with you, so that they clap the syllables too (it may help to hold hands and clap together at first). Demonstrate lots of examples to your child before expecting them to have a go. You could do this by:

    • Clapping out the names of friends or family members
    • Clapping out the syllables in words for items around you or pictures of different items.

    When your child understands that words can be broken up in this way you could encourage them to have a go.

    • Take it in turns to turn over pictures or pick items from a bag. Count the number of syllables
      together. That person then earns that number of points (e.g. “paint--brush” = 2 syllables = 2
    • Label some boxes labelled 1-4 (for the number of syllables). Take it in turns to clap the syllables
      in a word and then post it into the correct box.
    • Say a number between 1 and 4. Encourage your child to find a picture with that many syllables.

    Tip: Saying the whole word again after counting the syllables will help you child hear how the different syllables all blend together. 

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Norfolk & Waveney Speech & Language Therapy Service by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

You can speak to other Norfolk parents and carers by clicking our online community forum below. 


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