Moon Sand Syllable Smash Game | Still Playing School

Moon Sand Syllable Smash Game

We've mixed up homemade moon sand before but this time we needed a literacy twist for the 12 Months of Sensory Dough series! We decided to practice syllable segmentation with a Moon Sand Syllable Smash activity!

A important step towards reading is phonological awareness. Phonological awareness includes being able to separate (segment) sounds. Children start by segmenting sentences, then words, then syllables in words, and eventually individual sounds in words (which are called phonemes).

Clapping the parts in a word (or syllables) is what my preschooler is currently working on. I noticed during her Reading Eggs lessons that she is still developing phonemic awareness needed to segment a word into the smallest units of sound (for example cat segments to /c/ /a/ /t/) so coming back to syllable segmentation was the perfect activity for her. Yet when clapping the sounds she struggled with simultaneously counting her claps so when she was finished she couldn't tell me how many syllables a word had. We needed a more concrete way to work on breaking a word into syllables. 

Our syllable smash game was just the ticket! I would build small mounds in our moon dough then say a word. She would smash the piles from left to right each time she said a syllable. When finished she could tell me how many piles were smashed which corresponded with the number of syllables in the word.

This activity didn't photograph well for several reasons: I was building with sand, then cleaning off my hands to grab the camera. As soon as I turned around to snap the picture I would often find that E already smashed the mounds of moon sand. This sensory and kinesthetic activity was just too tempting to my preschooler to wait for the camera! So you get a video instead:

Names are a great category of words to begin with when working with syllables. We practiced with family members' first, middle, and last names! Then we moved on to our favorite characters from books and movies.

Read and pin our past activities which all include literacy with our sensory dough play and exploration:

See what my co-hosts are doing with their own moon sand and discover a variety of recipes for this month's sensory dough:


  1. That's such a good idea! My eldest used to struggle with counting syllables and would get frustrated this is a much more fun way of learning this skill :)

  2. What an awesome and fun idea! Can't wait to try this with my daughter when we start working on syllables!

  3. The video is great! I think I'll use our moon sand for reading this week! Wonderful idea!