Open and Closed Syllables

Introducing Open and Closed Syllables:

A syllable is a word or part of a word with one talking vowel sound.

Closed Syllable:

  • The vowel sound is short
  • There is one or more consonants after the vowel
  • Examples: cat, hat, pen, farm

Open syllable: 

  • The vowel sound is long
  • There are no consonants after the vowel
  • Examples: no, go, hi, me, bi

Prerequisite Skills:

Students can distinguish between long and short vowels.

Students know what a syllable is. When teaching the 6 Syllable Rules: students can identify syllables in multisyllable words.


  • Cardstock cut to 81/2″ x 5 1/2″ for houses. One per student. For younger children, score the fold lines ahead of time.
  • Phoneme-grapheme spelling girds for students. Copy the following document (front and back) and laminate for ongoing use. Phoneme-Grapheme Mapping Grid
  • large erasable phoneme-grapheme chart available through the print shop
  • erasable marker for teacher
  • Sample houses
  • Word lists of open and closed syllables

Word Lists:

Open syllables

Open: try, hi, no, she, dry, go, no, so, be, we

Closed syllables

shack, not, chip, thin, cast, now, pot, fish, got, flat, grin, pen


hobo, photo, zero, veto, judo, ego


fever, reject, decline, prolong, behave, edict, erode, result, defense, bisect, hotel


tempo, cargo, torso, tango, pinto gumbo, presto, messy, happy


bandit, invest, inflict, enchant, instruct, hardship, ransack, bombard, cartoon,

Phonemic Awareness Activity:

Guess the syllable:

Have students hold their arms open wide when they hear an open syllable and hold their hands closely together (in a clapping position) when they hear a closed syllable.


     Closed  Syllable                                          Open Syllable

Read a list of open and closed words (see word lists above) and syllables and have students indicate what they hear.

Challenge Activity:

Use two syllable words (see word list above) and see if students can hear whether the syllables are open/open, open/closed and closed/open.  Students indicate their answers using the hand gestures above.

Guided Practice:

Phoneme-Grapheme Spelling

Using the word lists above, select appropriate words for students to spell using the phoneme-grapheme spelling grids.

Count the number of sounds in the word and underline the appropriate number of boxes.  Focusing on each sound, say the sound and have students write the appropriate letter or letters on the grid.  Model this activity on the board using the large phoneme-grapheme chart available at the Print Shop. Have students review their words, to see that they match what the teacher has written.

With each word, review whether it is open or closed and why.

Creating Open and Closed Syllable Houses:

  1. Place a 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″piece of card stock on a desk top in the landscape position.
  2. Fold over one third of the card to create the door.
  3. Cut the top of the roof by cutting a triangle on the top third of the card on each side.  Students may find it helpful to mark the roof with a pencil before cutting.
  4. Write the chosen word on the card with the open syllable on the  large section of card and the last letter to close the syllable on the door flap.
  5. Add windows and decorative touches

Once the house is constructed, students can write as many open and closed words as you can on the back of the house.  Students can look at other students cards to get ideas for additional words.

For example: no/not, go/got, she/shed, he/help, hi/him, we/wet

Independent Practice:

Word Sorts for closed and open syllables:

This is a placeholder, PDF version coming soon.

This is a placeholder, PDF version coming soon.

Open or Closed Highlighting activity:

This is a placeholder, PDF version coming soon.

Creating closed Syllables

Identifying open and closed syllables:

Using a multisyllabic word – divide the word into syllables – label whether teach syllable is open or closed creating a long or short vowel.


Closed Syllables text from West Virginia Phonics

West Virginia Phonics open and closed syllables


Use word lists above.

You can also use these open syllables for spelling practice: pre, fro, pro, sti, mo, co, bi , de ro, bo, mu, sli, ma, si, va, po, re, ye, yo, za, ki and pu

Creating a Classroom Visual for Open and Closed Syllables

Create a visual for students by taping word parts to the door and door frame of your classroom.  When the door is open, the syllable is open and when the door is closed, the syllable is closed.

The color coding in the example below is visually helpful when words are placed close together.

Carefully choose the words that you use for this activity.  It is most helpful for students if the open syllable is a word and follows the phonics rules. For example, the picture below shows the words to and top.  “To” is a shwa and is not pronounced with a long o. Many students will find this more confusing than helpful, therefore top should be eliminated from the list.