Note Syllables


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Start by chanting the song “Engine Engine Number Nine” with students. As you chant, clap the words. Then, play the game. All students stand in a line with one conductor. They all chant the song but only step on each syllable (similar to the clap, but put it in their feet). At the end, the conductor goes to the end and is the caboose.

Have students read the words to the song with you on the board. They clap each syllable as you point to it on the board. You can also use train images above each syllable. Create a list of 3 words in the song: Engine, Number, Nine.

Lesson Process:

Step 1:  Ask students to look at the word EN-GINE. How many sounds are in that word? (2.) How many times did we clap? (2.) Do the same with the words Number and Nine.

Step 2: Identify that we call a sound in a word a “syllable”. Then, have students clap each sound in the word Syllable. How many sounds/syllables are in the word Syllable? (3.)

Step 3:  Get into a large circle. Give each student a set of rhythms sticks, sand blocks, or hand drums (if you don’t have access to instruments, just use clapping, patting, or stomping). Have each child say their name, play their name, and then as a group determine how many syllables are in each name.

Step 4:  Working in small groups, provide students with three words they already know. Ask each group to create and perform a music sentence with either instruments or found sounds using the three words.

Step 5:  Each group performs their music sentence and the rest of the class must share how many syllables were in each sentence.

Time Required:
30-45 minutes

Materials List:

  • Engine Engine Number Nine Chant
  • Variety of instruments or found sound sources
  • Board, markers/chalk, paper, sound system
  • Train visuals to place above syllables
  • Space for movement



Did students accurately create and perform the syllables in their words?

Did students accurately identify the amount of syllables in each group’s musical sentence?