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What are Closed Syllables & How to Teach Them

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A solid understanding of closed syllables will unlock the magic of reading longer words for students, so it’s so important to teach them right! Now you might be wondering, “What are closed syllables?” Well, we’re here to explain all about what closed syllables are and how to teach them, plus give you 3 free printable worksheets!

Graphic that reads, "What are closed syllables and how to teach them."

✍️ Closed Syllables Definition

Closed syllables are syllables that contain one vowel, and that vowel is ‘closed in’ by a consonant, causing the vowel to say its short sound. That’s why they are called “closed” syllables.

  • Most CVC words (consonant, vowel, consonant) are examples of closed syllables – e.g. cat.
  • Closed syllables can also begin with a vowel and end with a consonant – e.g. it.
  • Digraphs can also be used to ‘close’ in a vowel and make it say its short sound – e.g. ash.


  • hat
  • pen
  • up
  • jam
  • lip
  • in
  • fish

See how all of these words have a consonant closing in the vowel, making the vowel say its short sound? That means it’s a closed syllable!

Open & Closed syllable house posters on a bulletin board.
We keep these Open & Closed Syllable House posters on display to help students as they work!

πŸ§‘β€πŸ« Why Teach Syllables?

Teaching syllables types to children provides them with the ability to accurately decode and spell words. It gives children a valuable tool in their toolbox as they apply rules to unknown words, which is especially helpful as words become longer and include multiple syllables.

Because how are kids expected to read and spell these longer, unknown words? Knowing the six syllable types is a key strategy. All children need this valuable ‘tool’ so that they can chunk words into smaller, more manageable parts.

They can then put those syllables back together to read unknown words. Of the six syllable types, closed syllables are the first syllable type to teach to children.

Just wait until you see the look on their faces when they begin to realize the value of knowing syllable types as they unlock this tool in their tool box and can now read bigger, longer words! Nothing is more exciting than seeing those lightbulbs go off!

Graphic showing three of the closed syllables worksheets beside pencils and a pair of scissors.

How to Teach Closed Syllables

1. Background Vocabulary

First, children need to know these words and their meanings: vowel, consonant, short vowel, long vowel, and syllable.

If you’re still teaching letters and sounds to your pre-k and kindergarten students, introduce these academic terms.

If your children already know their letters and sounds, then quickly teach and review these terms and their meanings and provide examples, using anchor charts as well. They should catch on quickly!

2. Definition

Next, teach what a closed syllable is: A vowel closed in by the consonant, making the vowel say its short sound. Teach and model using closed syllable words.

Remember to point out that every syllable must have a vowel. Use our list of CVC words for teaching closed syllables.

Using Real and Nonsense Words

When teaching closed syllables, be sure to use real and nonsense words. Children will need to be familiar with nonsense closed syllables, because they will see many of them in multisyllable words.

Think about the word ‘volcanic.’ This is a word that adults would easily recognize and read automatically, but children will need a strategy for decoding or spelling this word. The word ‘volcanic‘ is made up of three closed syllables:

vol – can – ic

This word is made up of three closed syllables, two of which are nonsense syllables. Knowing the rule (that a consonant closes in a vowel and makes it say its short sound) enables children to break the word apart into syllables, reading each syllable type correctly.

They can practice building real and nonsense words on their own, to help get comfortable with this.

Three printed and completed closed syllables worksheets.

3. Practice

Then, use our free Syllable vs. Not a Syllable Sorting worksheet (download the pdf for free below!) This activity will help students locate vowels within words, and then practice reading both real words and nonsense words as they apply the rule of closed syllables.

πŸ‘‰ Be sure the child is saying the short sound of the vowel for the closed syllable words. This will tell you whether or not he or she understands the concept of closed syllables or whether additional teaching and modeling is needed.

Now, have your children use this new knowledge to read longer, multi-syllable words (like the ones in our Divide the Syllables and Closed Syllables matching worksheets that you can download below!). They help children see that most words are made up of smaller word parts, called syllables!

Once they have demonstrated an understanding of closed syllables, you can move on to the next syllable type – Open syllables.

You’ll want to teach Open Syllables quickly after teaching closed syllables, so that children can learn to flex between open/closed and short/long vowels.

Three worksheets on a green background with the text, "Free Printables Closed Syllable Worksheets."

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Questions, concerns or feedback? Drop a comment below or tag us on Instagram @literacylearn!


Closed Syllables Worksheets 1.66 MB 5350 downloads

A solid understanding of closed syllables will unlock the magic of reading longer...

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  1. Thank so much for your worksheets and the steps guideline on the literacy. Honestly, I taught the CVC words to my kids but did not no what to introduce next. My kids enjoy going through the worksheets.

    1. Michelle,
      We are so happy you are building on CVC words and now introducing closed syllables to your kids. Let us know how it goes!
      Katie & Laura

  2. Your worksheets look great! I love the spelling game, especially for red/learned words! Looking at your closed syllable worksheets, I noticed you have some r-controlled syllables mixed in. Most kids learn r-controlled separately from simple closed syllables. It may be more useful for teachers and tutors to keep syllable types separated. Just a thought. Your ideas are creative. I like them, otherwise.

    1. Amy,
      Thank you! Your positive feedback is so encouraging. We hope you keep coming back as we are adding new resources weekly! We just updated the worksheets based on this feedback about r-controlled syllables!
      -Katie and Laura

  3. First of all, I love your resources! Thank you!
    I am having difficulty opening the closed syllable pdf.
    Thanks, Jessica

  4. Absolutely love your materials with all the color!! I have been trained in Orton-Gillingham and love your worksheets for both Closed Syllables as well as Silent Jumping E! Have you put your materials on Teachers Pay Teachers? I found you by Googling β€œsilent e worksheets.”

    Thanks again for such great doable worksheets!! Have a great rest of your week!
    Susan Kydd πŸ˜Šβ˜€οΈπŸ“š

    1. Hi Susan! Thank you so much for your kind words and feedback about our resources. We aren’t planning to charge for our resources, so we’re keeping all of everything on our site instead of TPT. We’re constantly adding new freebies here, so I hope you’ll subscribe for updates! πŸ™‚ -Katie & Laura

      1. Hi Maryann,
        All of our resources are free. Just scroll to the section called “Download & Print” and you can download the printable from there. If you have specific questions, please send us an email at literacylearnblog@gmail.com We hope this helps!
        Katie and Laura

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