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A Yummy Double Whammy

A Yummy Double Whammy

As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, it’s easy to allow our minds to wander to lazy summer days eating sweet treats to the tune of carnival rides and laughter. I’d like to keep this sentiment alive with our next rule: Taffy Apple.

Yummy double whammyPhoto by John Jackson on Unsplash

When it comes to sweets, it’s really difficult to have just one, so let’s have TWO. After all, this is a doubling rule!

Before we dig into this sweet, sticky rule, let’s go over some prerequisite skills your student should have before they begin to double letters in the middle of words.

Before You Begin

  • Distinguish between one-syllable and multi-syllable words.
  • Know how to divide multi-syllable words into individual syllables. For strategies on multisensory spelling, check out our video here. Our syllable division rules guide can be downloaded here.
  • Understand the differences between long vowels, short vowels, and consonants. (Note: It’s helpful for students to have previous knowledge of open vs. closed syllables and how they correlate with vowel sounds)

Getting Started

What I find challenging about doubling rules is that, although there may be two letters in a row, we can only hear one sound. One letter is voiced, while the other is silent. Therefore, it’s easy to miss a doubling rule.

Start by getting your student acclimated to doubled letters, syllable division, and syllable types. You can do this by giving your student the following list on a piece of paper with the attached guided practice instructions. I have another version of this list in my FREE reproducibles download at the end of this post with an answer key.

Biting into Doubling

Now that you’ve primed your student for this rule, pull just those words from the list that have doubled letters.

Notice that we already know why two of these words have doubled letters. “Fluff” and “Thrill” both follow an old familiar rule, Sam Loves Fried Zucchini. Of course, Sam Loves Fried Zucchini is only for 1 syllable words. The other words will follow our new doubling rule because our new doubling rule is for the middle of multi-syllable words. As your student taps out the remaining words, make note that there are short vowel sounds at the end of the first syllable in each word, so what you’ll hear is this:

What’s important to connect is that short vowels must be closed by a consonant, so spelling these words as I have them above is a bit of a conundrum. Let’s look at the word “Tafy” for example. The ă as it’s written here would be read long (ā) because it’s not closed. Do not fear! We are not without hope for closing these short vowels. All we need to do is double the next sound after the short vowel.

Taffy Apple

As you might have noticed, this is a tricky rule to explain without first taking your student on the same journey that we just took together. And where are we now? Well, we’re at the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the moment we sink our teeth into our new spelling rule. When I think of the name of this rule, I can imagine the sweet, delicious crunch of a taffy apple, and I hope you can too!

Now, it’s easy to forget that this spelling rule is really just that: a spelling rule, rather than a reading rule. Therefore, it’s important to eventually practice this rule without visual assistance, relying on syllable division and vowel sounds. I might give my student an auditory drill with a mix of examples and nonexamples. It might go something like this:

I say ‘Taffy.’ Now, you say ‘Taffy.”


“Tap out ‘Taffy’ into its syllables.”


“Will this word need the doubling rule?”

“Yes, because there is a short ‘a’ at the end of the syllable.”

“Great! Now, try writing it down to double check.”

Important Tips to Consider

  • Reinforce correct syllable division.
    Syllable division does not come naturally to many students! Practice syllable division regularly, helping your student to use multiple senses while dividing words (tactile, auditory, and visual).The Taffy Apple rule depends upon dividing words correctly. Download our syllable division resource guide here.
  • Make sure your student has mastered single syllable words with automaticity before moving on to Taffy Apple.
    If your student cannot automatically spell a single syllable, they will likely be overwhelmed by the process of applying spelling rules to multisyllable words.
  • Provide your student with a resource that already has the rule written down.
    This allows you to focus on what matters most: learning and applying the rule. I highly suggest the Silver Moon Spelling Rules cards complete with illustrations for this rule. Both student and instructor sets of cards can be found here.
  • Practice using both real words and nonsense words.
    You may find that students have learned to memorize a lot of words. This is especially common when working with older students. Therefore, it’s difficult to know for sure if your student has really learned the spelling rule to the point of generalization (note that this is the ‘good kind’ of generalization). Using a mix of real words and nonsense words helps you better understand what your student knows and eliminates the memorization variable.

Time for Dessert!

Just like our beloved sweet treats, we saved the best for last! I have some FREE reproducibles that I’d like to share as you navigate this new spelling rule. Unlike those impossible carnival games, you don’t have to do anything to win this prize. Simply click and print!

Taffy Apple Reproducibles Here

As always, if you found this blog helpful, please share it with your fellow teachers, parents, and interventionists. Interested in learning more? You can find our other spelling topics HERE, and don’t forget to check out our complete guide to spelling at . If you need help understanding syllable division rules see our video section (vlogs) HERE.

Happy Teaching!

Written by:
Kate Wagner, BSE
Reading Interventionist, Remote Learning Coach

A Division Of: