Prep: None / Activity Time: 5 Minutes

This easy, fun listening game takes no prep time and can be played any place and any time you have a few minutes to spare. Your child will listen to words and label them as long or short, based on the number of syllables she hears.

  • none for basic activity
  • paper to cut in strips (Make it Easier activity)

Step 1: Tell your child that some words are short and they have only one syllable (e.g., milk, juice). Other words are long and have two or more syllables (e.g., cucumber, banana).

Step 2: Say that you are going to use just your ears to find out whether words are long or short.

Step 3: You might select a category (e.g., foods, toys, vehicles, animals) to make it easier for your child to think of words.

Step 4: Say a word in a clear voice. Ask your child to listen and to tell you if it is a short word (one syllable) or a long word (more than one syllable). You might suggest that she clap out the syllables if that makes it easier.

Step 5: Next, ask your child to think of a word and say it in a clear voice. Then you can clap the syllables and tell your child if the word is short or long.

Step 6: Continue as long as your child is interested.

To make it easier, give your child visual support. Give her two strips of paper cut into different lengths (one long and one short). Tell your child to listen as you say a word and to hold up the short paper strip for short words and the long paper strip for long words. You might say:

When you hear me say a short word with just one syllable, hold up the short paper strip. When you hear me say a long word, hold up the long paper strip. Ready? Cantaloupe – great! That’s a long word and you held up the long paper strip. Try this one – pear. That’s a short word. You held up the short paper strip!      

Give more specific instructions to your child. For example, ask your child to name a food that has one syllable, two syllables, three syllables, etc.