It is natural for our chiquitos to play with the sounds of language and for us to play along. If you have little ones, you probably find yourself silabeando together – pronouncing words syllable by syllable.

In Spanish, syllables define how to read, spell and accentuate words. Because syllables are so important, they are the basis for learning to read. In English, children learn to “sound out” individual letter sounds, but in Spanish children “sound out” syllables.

Being able to separate words into syllables is an important prereading skill, so activities that help children learn to divide words by syllables get them ready to read. Also, syllable games are divertidos!  Try simple ones like these:

- Clap out the syllables in a word, with one clap for each syllable.

- Chant words and phrases in time with your steps (ca-mi-na-mos).

- Recite rimas de sorteo, or counting-out rhymes, to start a game, choose between two things, or just for fun. Tin Marín is probably the best known rima de sorteo, but you might want to try these other short rhymes:

El cielo es azul.
¿Cuántos años tienes tú?

Zapatito blanco, zapatito azul.
Dime ¿cuántos años tienes tú?

Manzana, manzana
manzana podrida.
Uno, dos, tres, salida.

En la casa de Andrés
todos cuentan hasta tres.
Uno, dos y tres.

En la casa de Francisco
todos cuentan hasta cinco.
Uno, dos, tres, cuatro y cinco.

Counting the number of syllables in a word is another way to practice this important prereading skill. Try these simple games with your niños:

-Take turns choosing a number (1, 2 or 3) and finding something in the room with that number of syllables.

-Choose a number and alternate saying words with that number of syllables.

-Play Veo, veo (I Spy) and give information about the number of syllables to help your child guess: Veo algo verde con dos sílabas.

- Sort pictures by the number of syllables. Click here for a printable Cuenta sílabas game with pictures. To play, cut out the pictures. Take turns choosing one and putting it in the correct place on the game board. The number of stars indicates the number of syllables.

The structure of Spanish makes it natural to use syllables to learn to read. Parents can help prepare children for that important step jugando y silabeando juntos.

Special thanks to Spanish Playground for providing this article. Visit their site for more activities to teach Spanish to kids.

Recent Posts