Happy #phonologicalfriday everyone!

This is the second #phonologicalfriday post written by Dr. Tom Nicholson, an Emeritus Professor from Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand. Last week, he provided us with a good introduction into the 6 different syllable types.

This week Dr. Nicholson provides us with a sample Closed Syllable lesson plan.

Closed syllables are typically the first syllable type we teach beginning readers. Closed syllables account for approximately 43% of the syllables found in English words.  They include a single vowel followed by one or more consonants and contain a short vowel sound.

* Please note, in this context the letters ‘v’ and ‘c’ represent a single letter an not a phoneme

Teaching points

  1. Be sure that the student can read at least three letter words before trying to teach syllable breaking.
  2. The teacher may need to review with the student the five vowel sounds. Explain that there are five vowels, a, e, i, o, u. The long sounds of the vowels are – ay, ee, ie, oe, ue. The short sounds are ah, eh, ih, oh, uh. Explain that other letters that are not vowels are consonants. A short way to write “consonant” is to use the letter C. A short was to write “vowel” is to use the letter V.

Opening – Connect to the student’s language

Teacher: Today we are learning how to read longer words. Words can have one or more syllables. Short words have one syllable but longer words have two or more syllables. Like the word /rabbit/ there are two syllables – teacher claps hands …”rab…(clap)….bit..(clap)”. Yes, there are two syllables.  Listening carefully….how many syllables can you hear in “rabbit”? We can clap our hands and find out.  (rab…(clap)…bit…(clap))—- two syllables (good work!)  Every syllable has a vowel sound.  I am going to write /rabbit/ on the whiteboard and show you how to do syllable breaking. How many vowels are there?

S: Two

Teacher: Let us put a tick on top of each vowel sound.




T: Good. There is a rule for splitting a word like RABBIT.  This is a CVC/CVC pattern. A CVC pattern is a closed syllable. In a closed syllable, the vowel has its short sound. The word /rabbit/ has two CVC syllables. A trick to help us break this word into syllables is that if there are two consonants after the first vowel, then you split them in the middle: rab/bit, so that you have two CVC syllables. That means both vowels have their short sounds.




Middle of the lesson

Teacher: Let us have a look at this word here.  See if you can divide the word into syllables.




Teacher: Do you remember what do you need to do first?

Student: Tick all the vowels.

Teacher: Excellent. two vowel sounds = two syllables




Teacher: Then, what shall we do next?

Student: um…..draw a line in the middle….??

Teacher: Where in the middle?  between which two letters?

Student: b and b

Teacher: Great!






Teacher: Now, we break this word into two small chunks.  Can you say the first part?  “rub-“then “bish”, can you put them together and say it like a word?

Student: rub-bish.

Teacher: Very good

Teacher: Let us try some more CVC/CVC words to practice.

ten/nis, hap/pen, cof/fee, mag/net, cot/ton, ex/pect, sud/den, chil/dren, sul/ta/na, mus/sel, dis./gust

Close of the lesson

Teacher: Let us check what we learned today. What is a closed syllable?

Student: It contains a short vowel sound followed by a consonant.

Teacher: Good job!


Write these sentences for the student. Read the sentences together. Ask the student to break the underlined words into syllables. The sentences are from Fernando saves the day – by KE Anderson:

  1. The dragon used his table napkin properly
  2. The dragon had a big problem
  3. The dragon ate his bat wing sandwich
  4. The dragon walked into the kitchen


Dr. Tom Nicholson is a freelance writer, formerly a professor of education at Massey University in New Zealand and a member of the Reading Hall of Fame. One day, in the future, he plans to have his own website, write a children’s book on phonics and how it can help you to read, and learn how to sketch with proper perspective.

You can contact Dr. Nicholson at: t.nicholson@massey.ac.nz


Henry, M. (2010). Unlocking Literacy: Effective decoding & spelling instruction (2nded.). Baltimore, Maryland: Paul H. Brooks Publishing Co.

Stanback, M. L. (1992). Syllable and rune otters for teaching reading: Analysis of a frequency-based vocabulary of 17,602 words. Annals of Dyslexia, 42, 196-221.

Be sure to check out more graphics for these morphemes on our Facebook, InstagramPinterest, and Twitter pages.

If there is anything we can do or post to help you learn more about the importance of morphological awareness (or any other topic for that matter) please send an email to blog@garfortheducation.com

Subscribe to Garforth Education’s Blog if you would like to be notified when a new post is up.