Orton Gillingham Coaching: Teaching Open Syllables, Tools and Strategies

Video on Strategies and Teaching, with 7 activities, Open Syllables

Teaching Open Syllables, Tools & Strategies

Open Syllable is the third syllable pattern you teach in Orton Gillingham in the REVLOC system of syllable patterns.

Open Syllable Pattern

The Open Syllable pattern is CV or V Consonant, Vowel (or just Vowel). The open vowel at the end of the syllable makes the vowel long, or “makes the vowel say its name.”

Initial Terms

A student must know what a vowel and consonant are to be able to grasp the concept of syllables.

By this point, you will already have taught Closed and Magic E patterns.* You will have started with VCCV syllable division.* So, now your student should have a pretty good grasp on the definition of a syllable. 

Open syllable is a great time for a student to see that a syllable can be made of one vowel, but never one consonant. This is just adding another layer to grasping all that a syllable really is.

*This is using the OGforAll Scope & Sequence. Other Scope & Sequences my vary.


Activity #1

First, use your reading vowel deck to teach long vowel sounds with a key word.

Do this before you ever mention the open syllable. Get the student automatic with long vowel sounds and key words. Then mix in the short vowel cards and go through it that way. Mix in magic E pattern cards. You are looking for automaticity and recall, as quickly as possible.

*This is using the OGforAll Scope & Sequence. Other Scope & Sequences my vary.

Activity #2

A great activity is comparison with Closed. You can do this with cards that have a flap, or worksheets. If you do use a worksheet, make sure students read out loud.

Activity #3

Read and dictate open syllables. Get a student used to seeing what that looks like and equating syllables like va, di, lo, meaning that vowel says its name because it is open. Once they are used to seeing simple open syllables, you can add blends and digraphs, like pro, gru, whi, chi, qui.

Activity #4

We mark a long vowel with a Macron. Have students go through and mark each long vowel with a macron and pronounce the syllable. Then do some dictation. Make sure they are hearing what they are reading.

You can also have a combined worksheet of open and closed. Have a student mark closed with a breve and the long with a macron and pronounce each syllable.

Have the student mark consonants and vowels on the sheet.

Ask questions of the student, why is that vowel long? What does a vowel being long make the vowel do? (say its name). What letter says “?,” they can write the letter e, if I put a “b” in front of the “?” what is does it say? It says “be.”

Activity #5

Once students understand the concept that the vowel is long because it open, you can put two syllables next to one another that are words and have them put those together.

You can have the students mark these syllables with a breve or macron before pronouncing to be sure they see the difference in closed and open.

For example, at first you might use words like.

o pen    e  ven,     o mit,      pi lot,    hu mid

Then you can add harder words.

a pron,     pho to,    ba by,    can dy,    ve to,  sup ply, ze ro

Activity #6

Have students label, according to REVLOC, syllables C, E or O.

Worksheet labeling C, E or O according to Syllable Types from Scope & Sequence Workbook 2
Activity #7

Give students a list of real words that are open vowels and see them light up now that they know why those vowels are long. It will be much easier for them to read these words now.

Try words like: hi,   so,  fly,   I,  be,  why,  go,  she,   he,  we,  spry, 

Final Word

A student now has three syllable types to compare to one another, closed Magic E syllable and open. They have been dividing VCCV words. They already know Y says three vowel sounds. And they already know a vowel can “say its name” from magic-e.*

OPEN syllables should drive home that a syllable can be made of one vowel but not just one consonant. Now students should really be understanding exactly what a syllable is.

Students should also be reading short passages by now, or a short story.

You are looking for automaticity in the recall. You want a student to not have to think about what they are reading.


Scope & Sequence Workbooks (Bundle)

Scope & Sequence Workbook 2

Workbook Store

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