Happy #phonologicalfriday everyone!


Over the last few weeks, #phonologicalfriday has been focusing on syllables. This is the fourth post in a 7 part series on syllable types written by Massey University’s Dr. Tom Nicholson. He has previously written on closed syllables and open syllables. This week he has created a sample lesson plan for teaching the vowel-consonant-e syllable.


In the vowel-consonant-e syllable pattern, the final ‘e’ in the syllable is silent and makes the vowel sound long. In some reading programs, they call the ‘e’ the ‘bossy e’ or the ‘magic e’ syllable.  

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

Prior knowledge: Need to check that the student has heard of the silent e rule. The silent e syllable pattern at the end of a word signals that the previous vowel has the long sound. The typical silent e pattern is VCe (vowel-consonant-silent e)

Opening of the lesson

Teacher: How many syllables in POLITE?

Student: Two – I can hear them – pol-ite

Teacher: But there are 3 vowels in POLITE

Student: That’s a problem

Teacher:  You can avoid this problem if you think that there is a vowel sound in every syllable. When I write POLITE on the whiteboard, notice that it has the silent e pattern at the end. Since the e is silent, it is not part of a syllable. Remember the silent e is usually at the end of the word.

Teacher: Let us put a tick on top of each vowel sound – but not the silent e.



Teacher: We can treat the word like an open syllable pattern followed by a silent e pattern




Middle of the lesson

Teacher: Let us have a look at this word here.  See if you can divide the word into syllables. What do you think it says?

Student: “bessidee”?

Teacher: Let’ us try to work it out by breaking it into syllables. Be sure to remember that we do not count the silent e. It is always at the end of the word.




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

Student: Tick all the vowels.

Teacher: Yes, 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: e and s – but not the silent e

Teacher: Great!




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

Student: be-side.

Teacher: Very good

Teacher: Let us try some more VCe words to practice.

Intake, estimate, inflate, dictate, illustrate, parasite, compute, vertebrate

Write these sentences for the student. Read the sentences together. Ask the student to break the underlined words into syllables.

  1. The pirate sailed the seas looking for gold
  2. The doctor put a bandage on her arm.
  3. We drew around the template to make a hat
  4. Adhesive tape is for sticking things together

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!

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

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