1. Carefully explain the Main Rule for decoding a multisyllable word.

2. Practice applying the rule to 2, 3, and 4 syllable words.

Pre-Class Preparation

1. Write the letters, a, e, i, o and u prominently on the board.

2. Select the words you wish to use for the demonstration of chunking after the vowel sound from the word list farther down this page, or from this PDF of the list:

Class time elapsed: 0 minutes

In-Class Procedures

1. Ask someone to recite the Main Rule, to see if anyone can do so.

2. Write on the board: Main Rule: Stop each chunk after the vowel sound and use the First Vowel Sound.

3. Underline the first occurrence of the phrase “vowel sound."

4. Briefly review the concept of a vowel sound and the fact that there are 19 vowel sounds.

Time elapsed: 3 minutes

5. Underline the phrase “First Vowel Sound.”

6. Ask who knows the First Vowel Sounds, while pointing at the letters you’ve written on the board.

7. Practice the First Vowel Sounds by pointing at the five letters in random order, using your classroom management skills to determine an appropriate procedure, e.g., chanting together, individual performance, contest between groups, etc.

Time elapsed: 8 minutes

8. Underline the word “chunk.”

9. Explain that each syllable in a word has exactly one vowel sound. Then explain that chunks are not the same as syllables because the dictionary defines syllables without using the Main Rule. However, each chunk also has one vowel sound, just like a syllable. Add that if they ever have to take a syllable test, they will flunk it if they confuse syllables with chunks.

10. Demonstrate application of the Main Rule using the word list below (or the PDF of the same list.)

Instructions: Write the first word on the list above on the board as you normally would and ask someone what the first chunk is. (All of the words on the list use only First Vowel Sounds spelled only with a single letter.) If they add a consonant sound following the vowel sound, point back to the Main Rule and say “Stop each chunk after the vowel sound.” If they use the Second Vowel Sound instead of the First Vowel Sound, again point to the Main Rule and say “Use the First Vowel Sound.” If they get a sound completely wrong in that it is an impossible option for that spelling, just say “This can’t be (insert the sound they said here.) What is the First Vowel Sound for this letter?”

Author’s Note

Instructional Note: Students might ask why they're not supposed to stop after the vowel sound in the ending chunk. If that happens, just explain that there is a consonant sound at the end of most longer words and that it must be included because every chunk must have a vowel sound. For example, chunking "limit" as "li-mi-t" results in a third chunk without a vowel sound so it must be chunked "li-mit."

2-Syllable Words

limit (li mit)
timid (ti mid)
panic (pa nic)
finish (fi nish)
pastel (pa stel)
talent (ta lent)
clinic (cli nic)
basket (ba sket)
fabric (fa bric)
habit (ha bit)
metric (me tric)
vanish (va nish)
plastic (pla stic)
credit (cre dit)
triplet (tri plet)
twisted (twi sted)
distress (di stress)

3-Syllable Words

diminish (di mi nish)
benefit (be ne fit)
javelin (ja ve lin)
establish (e sta blish)
domestic (do me stic)
kilogram (ki lo gram)
democrat (de mo crat)
apricot (a pri cot)
skeleton (ske le ton)
venison (ve ni son)
minimum (mi ni mum)
platinum (pla ti num)
element (e le ment)
telegraph (te le graph)

4-Syllable Words

epidemic (e pi de mic)
mathematics (ma the ma tics)

11. Proceed through the list until the allotted time is up.

12. Have the class recite the Main Rule: “Stop each chunk after the vowel sound and use the First Vowel Sound.”

Time elapsed: 15 minutes


The concentration so far should be on understanding what a vowel sound is, memorizing the First Vowel Sounds, realizing that the Second Vowel Sound of each is just the letter name, memorizing the Main Rule and then learning to apply it. Of course, the Main Rule doesn’t work for all words, but that will be addressed shortly in the curriculum.