Rhyming is an important early literacy skill and an engaging, playful concept that can be introduced to kids early and often (check out these 7 ways poetry builds a strong foundation for reading!). Rhyme play is a fun and easy way to introduce the concept of rhyming to young minds. This type of play directs children’s attention to the sound-structure of words and increases awareness that language has meaning and form.
When engaging in rhyme play, resist the temptation to direct attention to complex rhymes or to point out that spelling patterns are not compatible—these games and activities are all about simply hearing the rhyme (i.e. word – bird).
Remember, the goal is to help kids develop stronger auditory discrimination and awareness and—above all else—have fun! Here are some simple games and activities that can help teach the young learners in your life about rhyming.
Listening to Rhyme
Think of some of your favorite poetry, songs, nursery rhymes, and jingles. Then for each, try the following:
Recite them exactly as they are written.
Recite them in a whisper, saying only the rhyming words louder.
Recite them in a loud voice, whispering only the rhyming words.
Recite them in round or canon forms.
Provides a word and let children create a rhyme (nonsensical words are great, as long as they rhyme!).
Provide a sentence, and have children fill in the blank with a rhyme (for example, "I see a cat wearing a _____.").
For a more complex skill, add the -ing suffix to word stems and have kids try to rhyme (i.e. barking - parking; cutting - shutting).
Pause & Ponder
Read a few pages of a book (or one of our poetry titles). Whenever it feels appropriate, pause so that kids can fill in with the rhyme. This is also a great time to discuss what's happening in the story to build comprehension skills!
Give each child a blank piece of paper on which they will draw the monster they hear about in the below story. Read the story and have them follow the instructions for what to draw as they are read orally (this is also a great listening activity!). It is best to read and pause at the end of the sentence so children have time to react to what they have heard. Once everyone has drawn, it's time to share! Each monster will be different, which is half the fun.
When you draw a monster, it is said, You always begin with hishead. He’ll be able to see when he flies, If we draw two bigeyes. To tell which way the cold wind blows, Our monster will need a great bignose. Look to the north and look to the south, Now we can give our monster amouth. Some up above and some beneath, Our monster has lots ofteeth. Now, under his chin, let’s just check, That’s where we should put hisneck. So he won’t be tipsy-toddy, Let’s give him a polka-dotbody. If he really, really begs, I guess we could give himlegs. To make our monster nice and neat, We’ll have to teach him to wipe hisfeet. A notice sent by air mail! We can’t forget the monster’stail. He isn’t fierce, he isn’t hairy. But don’t you think he’s a little scary?