Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rhyming Activities

When I was getting my masters degree back in the late 90's, one of the things researchers were noticing was that children who were "good" readers were very good with rhyming and had lots of exposure to nursery rhymes as young children.  I'll talk more about nursery rhymes in another post.  Since then, lots of research has been done and the term phonological awareness has become more prevalent.  Rhyming is one segment of phonological awareness.

There are two levels of rhyming skills for children.  The first level is being able to identify words that rhyme. The second is being able to produce words that rhyme with each other.

For the first skill, I like to ask children questions like, "Do cat and bat rhyme?"  "Do shirt and flower rhyme?"  Remember that they don't have to be spelled the same to rhyme, because this is all being done auditorily.

For the second skill, one of my favorite games to play with children is  our old standby, "I Spy" again.  Look around the room and find something, like a door.  What I would say to a child is, "I spy  with my little eye, something that rhymes with more."  And then the child guesses and hopefully comes up with door.

In the Montessori classroom, I have a basket of objects on the shelf for rhyming work.  For example, we might have a dog, lock, house, rock, rice, mouse, log, ice in a basket.  When we're laying them out on the rug to do the work, we'll name the objects so that the child knows what the name of each is.  Then, the child will choose an object (a mouse) and we'll play I spy again.  "I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with mouse."  Hopefully the child will choose the house.   If the child isn't able to choose the correct rhyme, we eliminate some of the objects to make it easier for him/her.

Another way we do this activity is with rhyming pictures.  It's the same as the objects, but it's a little bit more difficult since the pictures are two dimensional instead of using three dimensional objects.

Another auditory game you can play is "Can you think of a word that rhymes with ____________?"  See how many your child can come up with.

If your child needs something to anchor their thinking, look around the room you're in and do the same.  "Let's think of all of the things in this room that rhyme with ____________."

Sing songs that rhyme and play with words:

  • Down by the Bay
  • "The Elephant Song" aka Willoughby Wallaby Weth, an elephant sat on Beth.  Substitute your child's name or anything you'd like.  The sillier the better!
  • "The Banana Song" aka Beth, Beth, bo Beth, Banana, fana fo feth, me my mo meth, Beth.  Kids LOVE this one.  
Remember that no matter what you do with your child, always make it fun and exciting.  If it seems too much like work, they'll dread it and it more than likely won't improve their skills.  Have fun, keep it light, and follow your child's lead.  Let me know how these games work out for you.


  1. I like to read books like "The Cat in the Hat" to pre-readers. I read most of it out loud to them, but stop short to let them fill in the last word that rhymes. Sometimes they need to see the pictures for clues.

  2. And they probably love that too, don't they? The children in my class love it when I stop reading and let them fill in the next part of the story. It's a great way to involve them in the process of reading the story to them.!