Reading Skills: Show Me The Money

Counting Syllables

As well as identifying the individual sounds in words, children must be able to recognise the syllables in words – in other words, they need to be able to count the beats in a word. For example, “marsh-mel-lows” has 3 syllables/beats. We spell and read longer words by breaking them up into chunks. In early primary school, children can get away with not being able to do this and consequently it is often not identified as a problem for them – but the wheels soon fall off when they are required to deal with longer words.

It is not unusual to find students in Years 7, 8 and 9 who are severely hampered in English because they cannot recognise the logical places to break up words.

Set Up & Game Play

Play shop in a world where the price of each item depends on how many syllables are in the word.

The shop keeper must hold out their open palm and say “Show me the money!” and the customer deliberately places one token in their hand for each syllable as they say it – e.g. “pine-ap-ple”, “car-rot”, “peach”.


  • If your child finds this a little tricky, practise using compound words at first – e.g. cow-boy, rain-bow, hot-dog, milk-shake, meat-pie, meat-balls, soft-drink, gum-boots, rain-coat. If your child has become proficient at syllabification, have them add up the value of all your purchases at once (they can count on their fingers or make dashes on a page).


Also Works On: Attention; Problem Solving; Maths skills (counting and simple addition); Listening skills.


Activity Materials


You Will Need...

  1. Set up a shop with items to buy.
  2. Use tokens or Lego pieces or buttons as money to pay for your items (not play money).