Syllable Series Part Six: Consonant + le Syllables


Welcome back everyone! We are in part 6 of this six part syllable series! Can you believe it? I feel like I have solidified so much of my own understanding about syllable instruction by sharing with all of you, so thank you!

If you are new to this series…
I’m so glad you’re here! Please take some time to read through parts 1-5. They aren’t long, but you’ll see the progression I follow and my reasoning, and that will really help you out. Just click any of the the posts in the following list and you will be all caught up. Thanks!

What Is The Consonant +le Syllable Type?
Word nerd alert! Let’s backtrack a little to learn about the history of consonant +le. Back in the early 14th century, most le words were spelled el. (Battle was batel.) Over time, we reversed it to be spelled with le.

The consonant +le syllable is a syllable where you have a consonant with an le following it. There is a schwa sound that happens in these syllables right before the letter l. So you will hear the vowel sound making a schwa sound of ul.  Examples include -ble, -cle, -dle, -fle, and -gle.

Important points about this syllable type:

  • Consonant +le will always occur at the END of a word.
  • Examples include: -ble, -cle, -dle, fle, -gle, -kle, -ple, -sle, -zle tle (like gentle) and -tle, but the t is silent like castle. 
  • It usually has three letters and the last two letters of the three are le.
  • The final e is silent.
  • The letter before the le will let you know what sound to make. (ap/ple sounds like ap-pul)
  • Why do we need the e? Because EVERY syllable has to have a vowel and the e is fulfilling its role in that purpose. It’s the only syllable type when you neither of the first two letters are vowels and you have a silent e after it. You can hear the vowel in all the other syllable types. 

How I Teach Consonant +le Syllables
Marking and dividing syllables
Many teachers use the count back three strategy when dividing syllable, which is fine. I still like to go through the process of marking and then dividing. The count back three strategy can be used after you’ve marked to confirm that is where the line of syllable division is found.
IMPORTANT: Your students’ knowledge of open and closed syllables is going to be really important here. Here are some mini posters I created for you to display with some think aloud prompts. You can print them out here. 

Counting syllables
I’m going to put this one right out to the masses. I don’t like clapping out syllables. There, I said it. Please, for the love,  don’t have your kids clap out a word to find out how many syllables there are in a word. They can’t feel it, and they probably can’t hear it. This is a really inefficient strategy for kids, particularly for your struggling readers. If you are an old syllable clapper from way back when, today you are going to change your ways and use a new strategy.

The Chin Trick
This video shows clapping out syllables and using robot speaking to find syllables, but fast forward to about one minute into the video, and you’ll find my fav part: the chin trick. This is what I want you to start doing with your kids instead. Place a hand, flat out, palm side down, under the chin. Say a word. (Let’s try apple.) Now FEEL how many times your chin drops when you say the word. Go ahead. Try it. Did you feel your chin drop twice? That makes apple a two syllable word. This is a great kinesthetic strategy for counting syllables. We’re keeping things multi-sensory WHENEVER possible, remember? Kids can feel their chin drop as they count and hold up a finger every time their chin drops to count a syllable. It’s been a huge game changer for me. Every kid I have done this with reports it being much easier than clapping out syllables.  Please consider using the chin trick instead from now on!

Multisensory Practice
In keeping the integrity of Orton-Gillingham, I must remind everyone that one of the reasons why OG is so effective is because it is multisensory. So… please keep your activities multisensory. This means engaging at least 3 senses within an activity to build a strong connection in the brain. Aim for visual, auditory and kinesthetic. An added bonus is tactile. Tapping out sounds, sliding plastic counters into Elkonin boxes, tracing in sand, sky writing, and magnetic letters are all ways you can create a multi-sensory learning experience. Just be sure children are vocalizing sounds and letters during all of these activities. They are seeing it, hearing it, touching it and/or writing it, every time.
Wondering why multisensory instruction is SO important? Read here.

Where can I find out more?
Looking for materials to support multisensory instruction? Find them in my store here.

For teaching materials to teach the syllable types, look here

Read Helpful Strategies For Syllable Division for more syllable practice tips!

Looking for materials to support multisensory instruction? Find them in my store here. 

Before you go…
Please be sure to sign up to receive my monthly newsletter by email. You can sign up in the right sidebar of this blog. Thank you!

Read an additional article on syllables from Reading Rockets here. Do you have a fun way to teach c+le syllables? Id love to hear about it in the comments below! 

Thanks for stopping by today! 


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  1. Hi Emily, First of all: Congrats on your baby news. I hope the morning sickness goes away REALLY soon.
    I've been enjoying your summer Syllable series. So much detailed information! You should be teaching a course on it. (In your spare time -lol).
    I hope that you will be starting up Mentor Mondays again in the fall. I really enjoy the great book-related activities and used lots of them in my classroom.
    Take care.
    Always Primary

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