Open and Closed Syllables

A closed syllable is a one syllable word or word part with a short vowel followed by at least one consonant; ramp, struct, tract

An open syllable is a one syllable word or word part ending in one long vowel; he, my, tri, re

Knowledge of Open and Closed Syllables will help students break down and decode multisyllable words.

Prerequisite skills

Long and short vowel sounds


Word Lists


try, hi, no, she, dry, go, no, so, be, we, he, my, tri, re , fro,


cam, next, duct, kin, rapt, gust, mesh, vent,  op, cul, stamp, start, end, gob,

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

prefixes: ad, en, non

vowel-consonant-e (VCe) is considered a closed syllable


frozen, erupt, silent, fever, reject, decline, prolong, behave, edict, erode, result, defense, bisect, hotel, omit, protract, vacant, decal, focus, haven, humid, matron, robot, repel, student, total, bonus, totem, tulip, virus, minus, began, basin, apron, propel


cargo, menu, echo, hello, tempo, tango, pinto, presto, torso, messy, happy, pesto


dentist, instruct, ransack, construct, catnap, goblet, enlist, trumpet, contest, muffin, pencil, problem, invent, sunset, selfish, babit, cabin, falcon, submit, visit, tonsil, cobweb, napkin, sudden, velvet, mental magnet, enlist


lady, photo, hobo, polo, tiny, navy, tidy, veto, zero, ego, silo,

3 or more syllables:

vitamin (OCC), museum (OOC), rodeo (OOO), oasis (OOC), stimulus (COC), marigold (OCC),  Mexican (CCC), dependent (OCC), reprimand (CCC), performer (CCC), stimulus (COC)

Phonemic Awareness Activity:

Phonemic Awareness Activity Part 1

Students sit with hands palm down on their desk top (hands are shoulder width apart).  Students slide hands further apart when they hear an open syllable and slide hands together when they hear a closed syllable.

Word list:

stamp                   he                         start                     my              end

gob                      mitt                      tri                         tract           go

re                          ramp                    struct                   non             my

rupt                     hi                          fro                        first             grand        

Refer to Word Lists for additional words

Phonemic Awareness Activity Part 2

Students say whether the word they hear is closed-open, open-closed, open-open or closed-closed

frozen – OC                   hobo – OO                    instruct – CC

erupt – OC                    zero – OO                     construct – CC

goblet – CC                   silent – OC                    pesto – CO

ransack – CC                 omit – OC                     catnap – CC

tempo – CO                    protract – OC               cargo – CO

Refer to Word Lists for additional words, including three syllable words for additional challenge.

Classroom Spelling Activities

Speed Drawing

Directions for Speed Drawing can be found under Phonics Activities which is here: Speed Drawing Instructions

Open and closed syllable words are not necessarily difficult to spell, but it is important that students understand this concept. This activity focuses on the meaning of these words, which have been taken from the spelling lists below:

Protract – to lengthen or extend

Goblet – a drinking glass with a stem

Hobo – homeward bound

Erupt – eject lava, ash or gases

Omit – to leave out or exclude

Torso – trunk of the body

Erode – to gradually wear away

Cargo – goods carried on a ship, plane or vehicle

Veto – the right to reject a decision or proposal

Stimulus – something that arouses activity or energy

Agree or Disagree

Write two spellings on the board.  Have students write the correct spelling in their notebooks.  Erase the incorrect answer.

Extension activity: Divide the class into two groups and have a contest to see how many each team gets correct.

One of These Things is Not Like the Others

Show three spelling words, one of which is spelled incorrectly.  Can students identify which one is correct?

Synonym Challenge

Write each spelling word and then three words with a similar meaning. For example:

goblet: glass, cup, chalice, wine glass, tumbler, stemware

Spelling Lists:

Phoneme/Grapheme Spelling: Continue to reinforce the concept that there needs to be a letter or letters for each sound (phoneme) in a word. Many poor spellers will miss letters in a word because they are not hearing each sound.

This work can be done using graph paper when practicing spelling.  Ask students how many sounds are in the word, and then have them write the work making sure that each sound is represented. Check the spelling by highlighting each phoneme and asking students if they have something for that sound.  For example, “erode” has 4 sounds.  It can not be spelled as “erod” as the “d” closes the syllable, making the “o” short.  Students will need to add a silent “e” after the “d” to make the “o” long.  The “de” go in the same graph box as they represent one sound.

List 1: try, chip, open, stamp, brand, ego, hobo, cargo, veto, misfit, catnap, judo, thin, torso, fever, omit, robot

List 2: protract, goblet, hobo, erupt, omit, torso, erode, cargo, veto, stimulus, camera, frozen, bonus, robot, misfit, construct, elect

List 3: vitamin, marigold, Mexican, dependent, reprimand, performer, protract, goblet, hobo, erupt, omit, torso, erode, cargo, veto, stimulus

Two tiered list where the first 10 words are for students working below grade level. The whole class does one list but students working below grade level stop after 6-8 words.

veto, omit,  hobo, fever, cargo, robot, misfit, judo, erupt, protract, goblet, torso, erode, stimulus, camera, frozen, bonus, misfit, construct, elect

Three tiered list where students working below grade level stop after 6 words and the last 6 words on the list are challenge words.

veto, omit,  hobo, fever, cargo, robot, protract, goblet, torso, erode, stimulus, camera, frozen, bonus, construct, elect, vitamin, Mexican, dependent, reprimand, performer

Refer to Word Lists for additional words