Syllable Clapping

 Aim of the game:

Understanding word structure and identifying syllables in words is a phonological awareness skill. Phonological awareness is the ability to recognise, distinguish and manipulate sounds that make up words. It is a vital skill for both speech sound development and is key for literacy development. This fun syllable clapping game helps children to understand more about the structure of words and can help on the road to correcting sounds in words. 



 What you will need:

  A bag, pillowcase or box. This is to put all of the toys, pictures or items in.

  A collection of toys, pictures or objects which have one, two, three and four syllables in their name. We’ve given some suggestions below:


1 Syllable Words
2 Syllable Words
3 Syllable Words
4 Syllable Words


If you can’t find the real objects we have created one, two, three and four syllable picture cards available to download from our Therapy Centre


 How to play:

  • Introduce the game to your child by telling them you’re going to play a word game.
  • Tell them that you’re going to clap out some words to see how many parts they have. You can tell them that we call these parts syllables and some have just one but some words have lots.
  • Fill the bag with items that have a range of syllables in. You may want to just focus on 1-3 syllable words for the first few times and no more than 6 items (so maybe two of each). Once your child has got the hang of the game you can add in 4 syllable words.
  • Let your child take an item out the bag and see if they can guess or label what they’ve found. Then tell them you’re going to clap out the word together, you will need to lead this. For example. “Let’s clap out the word apple. Ready…/a/ (clap) /pple/ (clap)”.  You may need to repeat this a few times and you may need to do a gentle hand over hand with them to help them clap out the number of syllables correctly. If they can’t count and clap at the same time (some children do struggle with this), once they’ve had a go tell them that they can listen and count how many times you clap. Don’t worry if they take a while to get this skill, it’s a tricky concept to learn.
  • Pick another item out of the bag and clap this one out together until the bag is empty.


 How to extend:

  • You can use visual supports to help your child with identifying the number of syllables in words. We use blobs of play dough or circles on paper and call them ‘syllablobs’! If they don’t manage to count the syllables with clapping you can use the syllablobs to help. You can download syllablobs in our Therapy Centre.
  • See if your child can clap out the syllables in friends and family member names.
  • Remove the clapping element and the amount of support you offer when your child gets really practiced and see if they can identify the number of syllables just by saying the word.
  • Play this game with friends or other family members so your child learns to wait and take turns and pretend to get some wrong to see if they notice your errors.




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