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3 Ideas for How to Teach Multisyllabic Words Decoding With Limited Time

You have limited time to teach ALL the things each day. But there are ways to sneak in decoding lessons, even in 3rd-grade. In this post I’m sharing 3 ideas for how to teach multisyllabic words with limited time.

During Morning Meeting

If you have a morning meeting every day, you can make decoding multisyllabic words practice part of your routine.

Take 5 minutes at the end of the meeting to model, do guided practice, and independent practice.

First, model a multisyllabic word and how to break it apart. Then have the students guide you in breaking up a different word.

Finally, give the students a word for them to decode themselves. They can do this on a sticky note, dry erase board, or designated notebook.


It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes to go through that whole routine. Of course, at the beginning of the year, it will take more time while the kids are learning what’s expected.

Making it a part of your morning meeting is a great way to ensure you get it done every single day. 

And if you don’t have time to do it every day, find 2-3 days where you can fit it in. Even if it’s only 2 days a week, that six words they’re practicing per week makes it 24 for the month. 

Use it As Your Reading Lesson

Another idea is to do one longer session per week. Choose a day of the week that you substitute a reading comprehension or reading skill lesson for a decoding lesson.

If you do a reader’s workshop that entails a 10-15 minute whole group lesson, you can instead have students decode multisyllabic words during that time.

You’ll have more time for modeling how to decode multisyllabic words as well as more time for kids to practice on their own.

This is a great option if you want to have the time to go around and help struggling students during the independent portion.


One tip I would give you about this option is that if you have a shorter week with a day off, skip decoding practice that week. You don’t want to miss too many days of reading comprehension lessons, especially in 3rd grade. 

During shorter weeks, instead of substituting a lesson, do a 5-minute lesson a couple of times that week. 

That’s better than doing none at all and you won’t sacrifice reading comprehension.

Teach How to Decode Multisyllabic Words in Small Group

Instead of teaching students how to decode multisyllabic words in a whole group, divided the lessons up for when you meet with small groups. 

Maybe all of your students don’t need decoding practice. 

In this case, it might be beneficial to only teach the students that need the extra decoding practice during small group instruction.

Do a quick 5-minute lesson, like the one I explained for morning meeting, at the beginning or end of your small group lesson. 

Make it a part of your small group routine so that students know what to bring to the group and are ready so you can maximize those 5 minutes.


You can have students break apart a word by writing on dry-erase boards.

Another idea is to give them a puzzle of a multisyllabic word so they can put it back together. It’s engaging and should take no more than 5 minutes of your small group.

If you do independent reading conferences, these are great to add to those too. 

Reading comprehension is so important but so is decoding multisyllabic words. If kids can’t read big words, they won’t be able to comprehend what they’re reading.

Finding pockets of time to teach how to break apart big words will benefit your readers and their reading comprehension will improve.

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