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Blending Routine for Multisyllabic Words

Literacy, Multisyllabic Words, Phonics, Spelling & Word Work

Written by: Krys Warstillo

Multisyllabic words are a big milestone for students. Supporting them as they become more skilled and confident is an important job and I know you’re up for the task! Luckily, there are short and effective routines we can add to each of our student’s toolboxes to help them decode larger words. This is the third post in the Decoding Multi-Syllable Words series. For previous posts, scroll to the end of this page for all the links. 

an easy blending routine to teach students when they encounter multisyllabic words in text

Decoding Multisyllabic Words

If you prefer watching and listening, here’s a great video tutorial that walks you through the five steps in this blending routine.

Step 1: Explain & Model

This is the “I Do” portion of the lesson. As an example, we’re going to use the word: hopeful. 

First, underline the silent E syllable in the word and remember to think out loud the whole time you’re teaching students this routine. While underlining you can say, “I see a silent E at the end of this syllable so I know the O makes a long vowel sound here.” Next, point out that there’s still more left in the word and since guessing is not reading we need to keep going. Say something like, “I see the next syllable is ful. I know that’s a closed syllable and I can sound it out.” Finally, practice saying the syllables individually out loud again then blend them together.

the word hopeful written on a piece of paper with the silent E syllable underlined

Step 2: Guided Practice

This portion of the lesson is a lot of “We Do.” You’ll start by adding a list of words to the board that all include the silent E syllable in them. An example multisyllabic word list is: include, homework, inside, ninety. Go through your list of words and underline the silent E syllable in each word. Continue to vocalize everything you are doing and thinking while you underline. As a group, work together to sound out the syllable with silent E and long vowels. Then, sound out the second syllable and blend the two syllables together to read the whole word.

two syllable words written on paper: include, homework, inside, ninety.

Step 3: Practice Using Longer Words

Now, we’re beginning that slow release of responsibility to your students. Start by writing down two columns of words.

  1. In the first column write a few more vowel plus silent E syllables. For example pole, side, lone, pede, and line.
  2. In the second column write down multisyllabic words that contain those syllables. For example tadpole, sidewalk, alone, stampede, and feline.
  3. Ask your students to chorally read the word or syllables in the first column. You’ve been practicing this so they should feel pretty confident.
two syllable words with the silent E syllable separated from the other syllable: tadpole, sidewalk, alone, stampede, feline

If students are struggling to read the syllables in the first column then stop and take a step back. Take a look at the How to Introduce the 6 Syllable Types post. It has strategies and activities to use for specific syllable types your students may be struggling with.

  1. Once they’ve read the first column of words, ask students to find and say the silent E syllable in the words in the second column.
  2. At this point, you can underline for them on your teacher board or students can write down the words on their own boards (or notebook) to underline.
  3. Have students chorally read the entire word. You can point to each word in random order and at varying speeds. This builds fluency and helps your students pay close attention to the syllable patterns in each word.

This scaffolding allows students to readily recognize common words parts and longer unfamiliar words. It makes the reading of multi-syllable words much easier for students.

two syllable words with the silent E syllable underlined

Step 4: Building Multisyllabic Words

Help students build words containing the syllable type you’re currently practicing. For our example, students will practice building words with silent E syllables using letter cards, tiles, or magnets.

If you need letter sets for students the Small Group & Intervention Literacy Kit has printable letter cards that can be crafted into DIY student word-building tools.

printable letter cards crafted into DIY student word-building folders to help with multisyllabic word blending
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Playing with word parts and syllables is an essential part of internalizing how multi-syllable words work and understanding the function and placement of various syllables. Before releasing your students to work independently, model manipulating syllables. For example, alive turning into arrive or the word behave turning into beehive. Have your students use their own sets of letters to mimic what you’re doing. This gives them a little guided practice before asking them to try on their own.

letter magnets work well as manipulatives for building multi-syllable words

Step 5: Decoding Multisyllabic Words Independently

Now that your students have some practice with a particular syllable type (or types if you’ve gone through a few different ones) have them take out their personal anchor chart. Revisit the Easy Routine for Syllable Division post, if you want to see the chart again.

6 step routine for decoding multisyllabic words
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If they don’t have their own copies you can refer them to a class anchor chart. I like to have them hold on to individual copies so they can quietly reference them without distracting their peers whenever they’d like. Follow along with the 6 steps for How to Read Big Words to decode lists of words that contain the syllable type you just practiced.

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Additional Resources

When a student gets to a multi-syllable word it can feel like a puzzle that students don’t know how to solve. Teaching students to decode helps students solve the puzzle. Breaking down multi-syllable words is a very difficult skill to learn and takes so much repetition. Providing the kind of targeted practice that students need can be pretty labor-intensive. For daily practice take a look at Phonics Day by Day or for easy-to-implement centers take a closer look at the 2nd Grade Phonics Centers and Multisyllabic Toothy.

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Decoding MultiSyllablic Words 

This is part of the Decoding Multi-Syllable Words series. Click the links below for more posts in this series:

If your students are getting stuck on multisyllabic words when they are reading, try this easy routine for decoding larger words.


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