I know you have explained what syllables are to your first grader. So what are they? According to Dictionary.com, a syllable is an uninterrupted segment of speech consisting of a vowel sound, a diphthong, or a syllabic consonant, with or without preceding or following consonant sounds: “Eye,” “sty,” “act,” and “should” are English words of one syllable. “Eyelet,” “stifle,” “enact,” and “shouldn't” are two-syllable words.
Breaking words into syllables helps kids decode words. It is one component of phonological awareness. Students gain the ability to hear phonemes that comprise words and to explore speech sounds as syllables. Students who have well-developed phonological skills generally learn to read with more success. Kids can “clap” syllables, put their hand over their mouth and see how many times their mouth opens, or play other syllable games.