Learning how to rhyme supports children in their phonological awareness, which is an important precursor to reading.
Rhyming helps children listen for sounds in words and begin manipulating those sounds to create new words.
Rhyming also supports children as they are learning letter-sound correlations, which supports both reading and writing skills.
Participation in rhyming activities supports children’s development of oral language skills, as they manipulate sounds and anticipate vocabulary.
Nursery Rhymes and Songs
There are many ways educators can incorporate rhyming activities into their programs. Introducing students to songs is a fun way to help them begin recognizing sound patterns in words. The patterns, repetition, and rhyming words in songs help children to memorize the words. Using songs that lend themselves to actions provides even more concrete representations that children can use to learn song lyrics. Educators can use songs to suit a variety of themes, such as seasons, holidays, tidying up, and getting dressed for outside.
Nursery rhymes are another effective way to provide children with opportunities to learn rhyming words. Similar to songs, nursery rhymes have patterns of language, may include repetition, and use rhyming words. They support children in their language development and also expose them to the concept of storytelling, which is important for budding reading skills. Educators can incorporate short nursery rhymes, like “Rain, Rain Go Away” and “Hickory Dickory Dock” into transition times like moving to the carpet, lining up, or waiting to wash their hands.
Chants and Poems
Using chants and poems helps children learn to rhyme. Educators may wish to incorporate their use into carpet times. Printing chants and poems on chart paper allows students to not only work with the words orally, but also to work with them visually. Educators can help facilitate learning by having students identify the rhyming words in a chant or poem and underline them. Further, they may highlight the particular sounds within words that are common to the rhyming words. This will help students begin to recognize patterns and how changing the initial letters in a word and maintaining the ending creates a rhyming word. Chants and poems are also a great way for children to use their knowledge of language structures to anticipate the next word in a line. Educators can try leaving a word out in a chant or poem and inviting students to guess the missing word. This is also a quick way to check in with your students and learn which children are gaining an understanding of how to rhyme and which children need more practice.
Chants and poems can be used beyond whole group activities at the carpet. Educators can also incorporate them into small group instruction, including shared reading and guided reading. During shared reading, a group of students reads along with the teacher. During guided reading, students are given a poem or chant that they can readily access and read with some support. Doing these activities in a small group allows educators to work more closely with students and delve more deeply into the deconstruction of the rhyming words.
File Folder Activities
File folder activities with a focus on rhyming can help children learn rhyming words. File folder activities are games with little or no other materials needed that students can use sitting at a table or even in a cozy spot in the room. An example of a file folder game that focuses on rhyming is pictures of various objects, like a dog, a log, and a cup. Children have to state which two objects are rhyming words. Educators may wish to have students place a chip on the two rhyming objects or, if the game is laminated, students can use a dry erase marker to cross out the object that doesn’t rhyme. Games like this are ideal for children who may have limited reading skills but can participate by identifying the pictures.
An example of a file folder game for students who are beginning readers uses words instead of pictures. Simple CVC – consonant-vowel-consonant – words are written down the left and right sides of the page. Students then draw a line or use materials like yarn or pipe cleaners to match the rhyming words. For example, educators can begin with simple words like “hat” and “bat,” “sit” and “bit,” and “mop” and “top.”
Word Family Charts
Word family charts are another way to help children learn how to rhyme. Word family charts allow students to see how rhyming words share a common ending. Educators can introduce word families using magnetic letters. A short word, like “cat” is built using magnetic letters. The educator then shows how replacing the ‘c’ with an ‘s’ creates the new word, “sat.” Modelling this change of the initial letter will help students understand how rhyming words work. Once they have gained an understanding, educators can facilitate the creation of word families on chart paper. This may begin as a whole group activity where an example is created. Using the example above, students can offer more suggestions for words that belong in the “at” family, like “hat,” “mat,” and “fat.” Writing “at” in the same color for each word will help children see how this ending is common to every rhyming word. The construction of word family charts can also move to a small group activity, with instruction tailored to the students’ particular level. For example, a group of students may be ready to take on words with beginnings like “th,” “sh,” and “br,” instead of only using CVC words.