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Home » Blog » Phonics » Multisyllabic Words » How to Teach Students to Read Multisyllabic Words

How to Teach Students to Read Multisyllabic Words

Literacy, Multisyllabic Words, Phonics

Written by: Krys Warstillo

Multisyllabic words are intimidating. Even students who’ve received great phonics instruction can fall back into ineffective habits. This is things like guessing, relying on cues from pictures, or simply skipping the word. All of this has a big impact on comprehension as our students make that slow shift to “reading to learn” in upper elementary. Explicit instruction on how to read multi-syllable words empowers your students to get over that scary big word wall. Read on to learn how to teach students how to decode multisyllabic words.                      

Step 1: Introduce the 6 Syllable Types

how to introduce the six syllable types
Click on this image to learn more about teaching the 6 syllable types.

Learning how to teach multisyllabic words begins with the 6 syllable types. Instruction on syllable types is like learning the basic components of cooking. Once you understand that dishes need salt, fat, acid, and heat then you can mix and match them to create delicious things. Once students learn the syllable types they can identify, arrange, and rearrange them to read and create multisyllabic words. 

Step 2: Teach Routines for Syllable Division

an easy routine for teaching syllable division
Click on this image to learn our super easy routine for dividing syllables.

Knowing where to break up multisyllable words can be another hurdle when decoding something new. Teaching a routine for syllable division will add another layer of word attacking confidence for your students. This routine helps prevent them from falling back into bad habits like guessing.   

Step 3: Practice a Blending Routine

a blending routine for multisyllabic words
Click the image for a multisyllabic word blending routine that works!

At this point, your students are feeling more comfortable with the first two steps. Now, they’re having some trouble blending those syllables together. Teaching a Blending Routine for Multisyllabic Words will help them take those syllables and turn them into actual words. Leaning back into the cooking analogy I used in Step 1, students at this point in the process are taking the components and cooking them into an actual dish. 

Step 4: Apply Multisyllabic Decoding In-Text

decoding multisyllabic words in 2nd grade text
Click the image above to learn an effective way to practice decoding multi-syllable words in context.

Teaching students the 6 syllables types, syllable division, and blending are all effective ways to teach students to read multi-syllable words. Words in isolation are a great place to start but explicitly teaching students how to apply what they’ve learned to words they find in-text is necessary. Back to our cooking analogy, this is where students make the leap from a single dish to a complex meal. The Decoding Multisyllabic Words in 2nd Grade Text post is going to give you a fantastic run-through on how to teach students to take what they’ve learned and actually use it while they read. 

Resources for Teaching Multisyllabic Words

At the bottom of each post in this series, you’ll find resources that are helpful to that specific step. However, here’s a quick rundown of my favorite resources for teaching multisyllabic words.

Sound Wall

Setting up a Sound Wall for your students to reference during lessons can be so helpful to many of them. A resource that builds reading, independence, and problem-solving skills? Yes, please!

classroom sound wall

Small-Group & Intervention Literacy Kit

If you’re in need of some small group intervention materials for your literacy block take a look at the Small Group & Intervention Literacy Kit. From the basics of decoding to the tricky business of encoding, it’s got you covered. It also includes printable letter tiles so you’re students have the manipulatives they’ll need for word building.

word lists, phonics posters, mini sound wall, and small group lesson plans for teaching multisyllabic word decoding in small groups

2nd Grade Phonics Centers

If independent, partner, or small group practice is what you’re after you’ll want the 2nd grade Phonics Centers. They have all kinds of activities to keep kids interested and learning about syllables! Bonus: These activities make AWESOME whole group lessons too!

upgrade your burger multisyllabic words literacy center activity

Download Phonics Centers HERE

Multisyllable Toothy

Looking for an engaging and self-correcting activity to review syllable types during centers or morning work? Our Multisyllabic Toothy is perfect. I like using this to review after group lessons or using them as warm-ups during small group work.

multisyllabic toothy pack with printable task cards and the digital version

Download Multisyllabic Toothy HERE

Phonics Day-by-Day

Breaking down multi-syllable words is a 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 phonics practice take a look at Phonics Day by Day.

review multi-syllable words with phonics day be day from lucky little learners.

Download Phonics Day by Day HERE

2nd Grade Reading Passages

Make sure you grab the 2nd Grade Reading Passages Bundle. It has 500+ differentiated, no-prep, and skills-focused passages. No need to spend a ton of time looking for reading passages. You can use these during your daily literacy block. The passages have multisyllable words throughout. This way, your students can have plenty of opportunities to read words in context.

2nd grade reading passage called, "The Life Cycle of a Peach Tree."

Download 2nd Grade Reading Passages HERE

Decoding Multisyllabic Words 

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


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