5 Finger Syllables and
Syllabication vs. Hyphenation vs. Chunking
Cutting Syllables into Chunks
Interactive Tool Overview  YouTube 

Topic Discussion YouTubeor Links
Purpose Purpose:  The purpose of this tool is to provide students with a consistent method for attacking unknown multisyllabic words.  The tool will develop a model for consistent attack skills and provide interactive practice activities based on an 8,000+ word database.

Statement of the Problem:   As illustrated in both the Problem Analysis document and video, decoding unknown multisyllabic words is complicated by consonant-vowel patterns, accent or stressed syllables, the schwa vowel and pronunciation keys that do not match syllablication patterns.

Solution:  Create a 5 finger visual mnemonic and vowel sound sequence to create a consistent method for attacking unknown multisyllabic words.

The 5 Finger mnemonic is described in detail in the Topic Section - 5 Finger Chunking Rules.  Permission is granted to copy/print the The 5 Finger Syllables/Vowel Sound Sequence study aid.

The vowel sound sequence should always be:  TRY - short - schwa - long - dipththong.  If a "r" follows the vowel, try the Bossy R vowel sound.

       Problem  Analysis 

Five Finger Syllables
Vowel Sound Sequence

Vowel Sound Sequence
Definitions Hyphenation:  Hyphenation rules are used to break a longer word into sections.  The rules are generally applied to splitting longer words at the end of a line while writing.  With the advent of word processors, this skill is becoming a lost art.  Dictionaries are the primary source of hyphenation rules.

Syllabication:  Syllabication rules are generally used to help us pronounce words.  In most cases, dictionary syllable representation matches hyphenation representation.  Most educational literature describes six syllable types.  Some advocate seven types.  A quick Google of "six syllable types" provides an extensive source of descriptions of the rules.  A sample link is provided.

Pronunciation Keys:  Most online dictionaries provide two types of pronunciation keys.  The first and most generally used is a spelling pattern with associated keys.  The second, used by many Speech and Language Pathologist, is IPA - International Phonetic Alphabet Pronunciation Key.  This tool uses the IPA format in analysis of words.

Schwa - ǝ:   Every vowel letter (a-e-i-o-u) can make the schwa sound, which is a weak short u sound, in an unaccented syllable.

How to Teach and Learn Syllabication.

Google Six Syllable Types

Example:  cat
spelling key [kat]
IPA key  /kæt/

5 Finger


How Many
Two - Split vcv pattern:  One consonant between two vowels.
Chunking pattern:  v-cv

Even though the vcv pattern looks simple, it has the most variance in determining the vowel sound in the leading syllable.

As indicated in the provided link, Rule #3 illustrates the "open" syllable type (ti-ger) with the first syllable's vowel having a long sound 55% of the time.  Rule #4 illustrates the "closed" syllable type (cab-in) with the first syllable's vowel having a short sound 45% of the time. 

In analyzing this tool's database of 2,300 two syllable words, 623 or 27% have a  vcv pattern, the same pattern of the first syllable's vowel sound, 55% long and 45% short, is strongly supported.  However, detailed analysis illustrates that the first syllable's vowel sound is long 47%, short 32%, schwa 6% and diphthong 11%.

Additional analysis of 1695 three syllable words, approximately 43% have a vcv pattern creating the first syllable and approximately 45% have a vcv pattern creating the second syllable.  Further analysis of the 1695 words illustrates that the vowel sound pattern has a significant shift, even between syllables.

Vowel Sound     1st Syllable                  2nd Syllable
short                         61%                                  29%
schwa                      11%                                  40%
long                          12%                                  11%
diphthong                   6%                                    3%
Bossy R                   10%                                   17% 

One Finger Rule and Process:
When you see one consonant between two vowels (vcv), always cut in front of the consonant.  For the leading syllable's vowel sound, try the vowel sound in this order:  short - schwa - long - diphthong.  Try each sound until the word makes sense to your listening and/or speaking vocabulary.  Note:  The Bossy R sound is addressed later.

How to Teach and Learn Syllabication.

Two - Split

Two - Split
vccv pattern:  Two consonants between two vowels.
Chunking pattern:  vc-cv

Using the two finger mnemonic, the student can quickly see that you can either cut the two fingers in half or not at all.  In analyzing the the 2,300 two syllable words, 852 or 37% have the cvvc pattern.  Of the 852 words, 758 or 89% can be cut in half.   

Vowel sound patterns:  short - 74%   schwa - 13%   long - 4%  diphthong - 9%.

11% of the vccv  pattern words should not be cut in half because the two consonants form a blend (br, cl, tr ck) or digraph (ch sh th).   Rule:  cut in front of the two consonants, except for ck.

Vowel sound patterns:  short - 45%   schwa - 21%   long - 28%  diphthong - 6%.
Two - Split vcccv patternThree consonants between two vowels.  In most cases, it creates one two letter blend or digraph pattern.  The grouping of consonants rarely creates a three letter blend or digraph (str or tch).  

Of the 2,300 two syllable words, 646 or 36% have the vcccv pattern.   70% the 646 words are compound words.

Chunking patterns: 
Most frequent:  vc-ccv   vcc-cv            
Less Frequent vccc-v   v-cccv

Vowel sound patterns:  short - 57%   schwa - 2%   long - 14% 
                                        diphthong - 19%                  Bossy R - 8%.

Two - Split vccccv pattern:  Four consonants between two vowels.  Creates one or two blends or digraphs. 

Of the 2,300 two syllable words, 155 or 9% have the vccccv pattern.   70% the 646 words are compound words.
Chunking pattern :  vcc-ccv    vccc-cv     vc-cccv

Vowel sound patterns:  short - 45%   schwa - 1%   long - 16% 
                                        diphthong - 21%                  Bossy R - 17%.
Two - Split vcccccv pattern:  Five consonants between two vowels.  Creates two blends and/or digraphs. 

Of the 2,300 two syllable words, 21 or 1% have the vcccccv pattern.  
99% the 21 words are compound words.

Chunking patterns: 
vcc-cccv   vccc-ccv  






Strategy for Chunking Unknow Words
S = Suffix   
P = Prefix   OR = Orange   G = Grapefruit   LE = Maple Syrup
Suffix Recognize common suffixes and cut in front of the suffix.

The interactive activity includes 445 words with suffixes.
tion        sion  
ance      ence
Prefix Recognize common prefixes and cut behind the prefix.

The interactive activity includes 534 words with prefixes.
de   dis   ex   il   im
in     ir     re   un
Two - Split Orange pattern:  Find an "r" in the middle of a word.  Cut behind the "r". 
95% of the vr pattern have a "bossy R" vowel sound.

The interactive activity includes 259 "orange" words.
door-way       sher-bert
fur-nish           air-port
pur-pose        for-five
Two - Split Grapefruit pattern:  Find an "e" in the middle of a word.  Cut behind the "e". 

95% of words are compound words or a base word with a suffix.

The interactive activity includes 327 "grapefruit" words.
grape-fruit        love-ly
a-muse-ment   fore-head
note-book        mile-age
Two - Split Maple Syrup pattern:  Since maple syrup is so sticky, if you see an "le" at the end of a word, the consonant next to the "le" sticks to the "le", except for "ck".

Note that many of the chunking rules discussed above could be the primary rule for "le" words.

The interactive activity includes 161 "maple syrup" words.
an-gle               pick-le
tan-gle              cou-ple
bee-tle              trou-ble
gog-gle             peb-ble
de-sir-a-ble        bu-gle
  mis-sle             waf-fle   

3 - 5

Use All

 The interactive activity includes
522 compound words with 3 - 4 syllables.
pot-hol-der    sky-scra-per
shoe-ma-ker straw-ber-ry
fresh-wa-ter   for-e-ver
ta-ble-cloth    but-ter-milk
   The interactive activity includes 1695 words with 3 syllables. Use All
    The interactive activity includes 703 words with 4 syllables.
     The interactive activity includes 166 words with 5 syllables.
     The interactive activity includes 771 Tier II words.
Text to Speech The use of Text to Speech tools could be very beneficial to students using 5 Finger Syllables.  When the student is not sure of the word in focus, they can highlight the word and copy it to the clipboard, allowing the Text to Speech tool to read the information.  

You will need to research which Text to Speech tool best works with your computer device and/or operating system.   When researching tools, some are free or minimal cost.   Look for a tool that monitors the clipboard.  This function will automatically read any text information copied to the clipboard.  Other tools require that you paste the text into their tool and then press play.

Windows based tool - XP - 8.   Works with IE and Chrome.  TTS Reader  Does not run on Windows Surface nor in Windows 10

Window 10 TTS Download.

Shop iStore, Play Store and Windows Store for text to speech tools for tablets and phones.