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Decoding Multisyllabic Words in 2nd Grade Text

Literacy, Multisyllabic Words, Phonics, Spelling & Word Work

Written by: Krys Warstillo

By now, I hope you and your students are starting to feel confident about those decoding skills! I know I’ve said it before but decoding multisyllabic words can be such a big hurdle for our 2nd grade learners and beyond.

This is the fourth post in the Decoding Multisyllabic Words series. If you haven’t read the first three blog posts, now is a great time to go back and start at the beginning by clicking the series name above. 

Decoding Multisyllabic Words in 2nd Grade (and beyond!)

The English language is influenced by so many other languages. That’s why we have words like REMEMBER that have three different pronunciations of the letter E all in the same word. Knowing and understanding the 6 syllable types help us know which pronunciation to use. For example:

  • RE is an open syllable. That means the E makes its long sound.
  • MEM is a closed syllable. That means E makes its short sound.
  • BER is an r-controlled syllable. That means it makes the r-controlled vowel sound ER. 
the word remember written on paper and cut apart at the syllable breaks

Teaching students the 6 syllables types is an effective way to teach students to read multisyllable words. We want students to be able to recognize the syllable types as easily as they recognize their own names! That takes a lot of practice, so let’s get started on how to do this with your students. 

If you prefer watching and listening, here’s the video tutorial that walks you through applying multisyllabic words in context. 

Step 1: Decoding Multisyllabic Words in 2nd Grade ~ A Preflight Checklist

I like to think of myself as the pilot on this wonderful learning-to-read adventure. Part of that means I need to make sure my plane has fuel and working engines. Students need to have those necessary foundational skills locked in before being asked to fly the multisyllabic skies.  Before starting multi-syllable fluency practice, students must:

  • Know what a syllable is
  • Identify vowels & consonants
  • Possess the ability to determine the number of syllables in a spoken word
  • Fluently recognize blends & digraphs

If you’re not sure where your students land on these skills the Small Group & Intervention Literacy Kit has assessments for foundational reading skills.

multisyllable section of the Lucky Little Learners Phonics Survey assessment tool

Step 1: Pick a Syllable Type

When students are solid with the previously listed skills they are ready to start working on syllable types. I’m going to use one of the 2nd Grade Reading Passages called Prairie Dogs as an example.

2nd grade reading passage called Prairie Dogs to practice finding and decoding multisyllable words

Today, my students will work on closed syllables. I’m going to ask students to identify words in the text that have closed syllables. They can highlight or underline the words they find. They can also write them on a separate mini-anchor chart or some index cards. (Grab the mini anchor chart free RIGHT HERE)

Then, students will blend the words in isolation. Once they’ve decoded the word they’ll reread that word in the sentence from the passage. They can do this individually or with a partner. Continue to work on one type at a time until your students have had the opportunity to master each one. 

2nd Grade text with multisyllable words highlighted

Step 2: Build Fluency Through Daily Practice

Building fluency in decoding multisyllabic words takes a lot of practice. Adding routines and drills throughout the week will help students recognize the syllable types. Keep in mind that 5-10 minutes of daily practice is more effective than a larger 30-minute chunk of time once a week.

six syllable types graphic organizer with the multisyllable words kids found in text written in the correct syllable type category

Make It Multi-Sensory

A great way to add in a multi-sensory component is to create hand signals or actions to represent each syllable type. Have your students make them up with you to increase ownership of the process and buy-in. For example, they could clap for closed syllables or put their fingers to their lips like “shhhh” for silent E syllables. You can also assign specific colors to each syllable type so students are more intentional when identifying syllable types. 

A 2nd grade reading passage called Giant Pumpkins with words highlighted with different colors by syllable type

Pseudo Syllables & Words

Next, have your students practice with real and pseudo syllables and multisyllabic words. Practicing pseudo syllables and words gives them an opportunity to practice decoding unfamiliar words, which is what happens when they read an unfamiliar word in text. 

real and pseudo syllable closed syllable words written on a piece of notebook paper

Build Some Words

Finally, use word-building cards or magnet letters to give your students a more physical way to manipulate syllables and build their own words. If you don’t have some, the Small Group Intervention Literacy Kit has printable cards you can laminate and use again and again. 

word building folder from the lucky little learners small group and intervention literacy kit

Additional Resources for Decoding Multisyllabic Words in 2nd Grade

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.

Make sure you grab the 2nd Grade Reading Passages Bundle for 500+ differentiated, no-prep, and skills-focused passages to use during your daily syllable practice!

SHOP THIS POST

Small Group Literacy Kit

2nd Grade Reading Passages

Phonics Day By Day

Decoding Multisyllabic Words 

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

decoding multisyllabic words in 2nd grade text

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Welcome, I’m Angie!

Hello there! I’m Angie Olson- a teacher, curriculum developer, educational blogger and owner of Lucky Little Learners.

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