Clapping Syllables


  • To understand that words are made up of parts called syllables
  • To begin to associate spoken language with written words

Index cards, pen
Prepare for the activity by writing your name, the names of book characters, and the name of each child on the index cards


Literature Suggestion
Read The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, or any story featuring characters with names of differing lengths.

  • Get the children ready to look at words and to clap.
  • Explain that words are made up of parts, called syllables. Some words have one syllable and some have more.
  • Model clapping syllables for a couple of words.
  • Say a book character's name. Have children say the name, and clap the syllables in the name.
  • Repeat the activity for the other characters in the book.
  • Explain that you are going to play a name-clapping game.
  • Tell children that they will look at the names of the children in the group, listen to the sounds in the names, and clap the syllables.
  • Use your name to start the game. Hold up your name, say it, and clap it. Then have children say the name and clap with you. Finally, say the name and let them clap it alone.
  • Next, go through the following sequence:
    • Hold up a child's name card and say the name, enunciating the syllables clearly and pointing to each word part as you speak.
    • Have all the children say the name and clap the syllables.
    • Repeat the game with each child saying his or her own name, and clapping the syllables individually.

Ask the children to clap and count the syllables in their name. Then have them do the same for another name with the same number of syllables.

Observation Assessment

  • Proficient - Child can recognize and can clap the syllables in his or her name.
  • In Process - Child has difficulty recognizing syllables and needs help and additional modeling to hear and repeat the syllables in his or her name.
  • Not Yet Ready - Child is unable to recognize syllables and does not yet clap the syllables in his or her name.

Excerpted from School Readiness Activity Cards. The Preschool Activity Cards provide engaging and purposeful experiences that develop language, literacy, and math skills for preschool children.

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