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Activity Objective:

In this activity, students will be breaking apart the syllables of words. This activity helps students learn how to sound out unfamiliar, multisyllabic words out of context.

This works towards achieving the New Jersey Department of Education Fifth Grade Reading Foundation Skills Goal 5.3: 

  • Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding and encoding words.

  • Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.


  • Word Card Printouts

  • Multiple Choice Card Printouts

  • Letter Puzzle Board Printout

  • Prize Ticket Printout

  • 2 Keep Trying Tickets Printouts

  • Three Envelope

  • Marker

  • Crayons

  • Scissors

  • Tape



  • Book: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Set-Up (for Parents and Teachers to do):

  1. Print out the word cards, multiple-choice cards, puzzle board, and prize ticket. 

  2. For the word cards, cut along the black lines. When finished, you should have eight strips, each with a word on it. 

  3. On the prize ticket, write down the prize that will be given if the student solves the puzzle. 

    1. Examples of prizes if doing this activity in the classroom:

      1. Homework Pass

      2. Sticker strip

      3. Special Pencil

    2. Examples of prizes if doing this activity at home: 

      1. No chores for a day pass

      2. Dessert before dinner

      3. Movie night

  4. Print two keep trying tickets. 

  5. On the front of one envelope, write the word “Blue.” Place the prize ticket into this envelope.

  6. On the front of a second envelope, write the word “Boat,” and on the third envelope, write the word “Bird.” Place a keep trying ticket into each of these envelopes.  

Pre-Activity Tasks: 

1. This activity uses terms from the book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, which is a science fiction book recommended for children ages 8-12. Before starting this activity, read the description of the book with students:

Kyle is a game fan—board games, word games, and especially video games! Kyle’s hero, the famous game maker Luigi Lemoncello, is the genius behind the design of the town’s new public library, which contains not only books but an IMAX theater, an electronic learning center, instructional holograms, interactive dioramas, and electromagnetic hover ladders that float patrons up to the books they want.

Lucky Kyle wins a spot as one of the first twelve kids invited to a gala, overnight library lock-in filled with lots of fun and games. But the next morning, when the lock-in is supposed to be over, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the others must follow book-related clues and unravel all sorts of secret puzzles to find the hidden escape route if they want to win Mr. Lemoncello’s most fabulous prize ever.

During this activity, students will imagine that they are playing one of Mr. Lemoncello’s famous puzzle games, Wordscape. They will have to work to solve this tricky puzzle to win a fabulous prize.  

2. Watch the following video:  


  • Students will sound out the word on the word card. To do this, students will sound out each letter of the word, while coloring in the letters with crayons as they sound them out. 

  • Students will decide how many syllables are in the word and where these syllables occur. Using the scissors, students will make a cut where they believe the syllable break occurs. 

  • Then, on the corresponding multiple-choice card, students will circle the multiple choice letter that corresponds with the number of cuts they made. 

  • The student will circle the same letter on the letter puzzle board. 

  • Students will repeat these steps with each word. 

  • The circled letters on the puzzle board will tell students which envelope they should open. Students should follow these instructions to open the corresponding envelope. 

  • If completed correctly, the circled letters on one line of the letter puzzle board should spell “O P E N” and “B L U E” on another line. 

  • If the student did not get the word on the first try, tape the word card together and encourage them to try again. 

Post-Activity Task (Optional):

  • Read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

  • Practice the Coloring Confidence affirmation below

Learning More for Parents:

What is phonological awareness?

Phonological awareness is the ability to recognize the individual sound structures of a word (International Dyslexia Association). Research has found that individuals with dyslexia across all grade levels have impaired phonological awareness (Knoop-van Campen, Segers, and Verhoeven, 2018). Consequently, students with dyslexia often struggle to sound out and read new words. 

What can you do to help your child?: 

Studies has shown that providing "explicit instruction" in phonological awareness is highly effective in enhancing students' proficiency in recognizing the sound structures of words ( One recommended approach to explicit phonological awareness instruction involves exposing students to the auditory components of words before introducing the visual aspects. This allows students to learn the sound words without getting confused or distracted by a word's letters. An example of this would be parents reading aloud a few lines from a book, allowing students to immerse themselves in the sounds of the words. Then, students can read those same lines themselves, thereby connecting the auditory experience with the visual representation of the letters. 

To gain the most benefit from this exercise, it is recommended that the book read has engaging language and diverse sounds. For instance, try a book such as Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library or another science fiction or fantasy book! The imaginative worlds of fantasy and science fiction literature offer a unique opportunity to enrich your student’s phonological awareness. Fantasy and science fiction books frequently incorporate fantastical creatures, invented languages, and unfamiliar terminology. As a result, students are exposed to a wide range of phonological patterns and sound structures that may not be encountered in everyday language. This exposure encourages active listening and improves students’ ability to distinguish and manipulate sounds within words. Moreover, the immersive nature of fantasy and science fiction narratives fosters a sense of curiosity and wonder, motivating students to actively participate in phonological awareness activities. Whether unraveling the mysteries of a magical realm or embarking on an intergalactic adventure, students are encouraged to actively engage with the sounds and words encountered in the text.

Coloring Confidence: 

Help your student color their confidence by saying this affirmation. 


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