From an early age, children are attracted to the rhythmic sounds of poems, songs, chants, and stories that rhyme.
But rhyming for preschoolers is much more than just delightful fun and is an essential part of their development.
Why is Rhyming Important for Preschoolers?
Rhyming is a key pre-reading skill leading into kindergarten and first grade.
The ability to detect rhyming sounds within words and being able to manipulate them are both aspects of phonemic awareness, which is a building block of reading development.
One important aspect of learning to read is the recognition of word families or those words that end in the same sounds.
For example, if children know that “school,” “cool,” and “tool” all rhyme, they often have an easier time learning to read other words that end with that same “-ool” pattern.
How Do You Teach Rhyming to Preschoolers?
Rhyming activities for early years incorporate two important features: listening for the rhymes in the ending sounds (also called “rimes”) and producing new rhyming words (real or pretend).
Exposure to rhyming sounds on a regular basis is an essential part of learning the skills. Kids must play with rhyme, talk about rhyming sounds, sing rhyming songs, and make up new rhyming words!
15 Rhyming Activities for Preschoolers
Activities that reinforce the ability to rhyme are built upon literature, songs and games.
Here are some rhyming activities for preschoolers to do at home or at school. Have fun with the concept!
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1. Rhyming Books
Many authors are known specifically for their rhyming books. Other authors sometimes surprise us and write an occasional story in a rhyming format. Here are several popular choices:
- Giles Andreae – Giraffes Can’t Dance, Down by the Cool of the Pool, and others
- Nick Bland – “Bear” series of rhyming books
- Anna Dewdney – “Llama Llama” series
- Julia Donaldson – “The Gruffalo” series and many other titles
- Dr. Seuss – The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, and so many more
- Nancy Shaw – Sheep in a Jeep and others in the “Sheep” series
2. Nursery Rhymes
For generations, parents and teachers have used nursery rhymes as a way to entertain and teach rhyme.
Although these are often sung to a tune, nursery rhymes can also be chanted, as well. These are some favourites:
- 1, 2, Buckle My Shoe
- Hickory, Dickory, Dock
- Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Jack and Jill
- Little Jack Horner
- Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Here are the lyrics of 40 classic preschool songs.
3. Rhyming Songs
Singing fun songs is another good way to listen to and enjoy rhyming. Some favourites include:
- Five Green Speckled Frogs
- Down by the Bay
- Five Little Ducks
- The Ants Go Marching
4. I Spy With My Little Eye
Play a game of I Spy With My Little Eye to teach rhyming.
Share an example to show the kids how this works.
- Decide on something in the room, like “clock,” as the target word.
- The task of the person who is “it” is to think of a word in their minds that rhymes with that as the clue: I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with “rock”.
- The other players then look around the area for objects that rhyme with “rock,” (block, crock, flock, lock, sock) until they guess the correct word, “clock.”
Another way to play this game is for a child to say, I spy with my little eye something that ends with “-ock”. And the other players then guess objects accordingly.
5. Telephone Game
Play the Telephone Game, also called Broken Telephone.
Discuss with kids what a “full sentence” is – someone or something does a type of action (subject, verb, object). For example, “The cat sat on the mat” is a full sentence, while “Cat mat” is not.
Also, talk about which words rhyme in the example.
To play the game:
- Children sit in a line or circle.
- The first person whispers a rhyming sentence, “The cat sat on the mat,” in the next person’s ear, and so on, down the line or around the circle.
- The last person says the sentence out loud, and giggles could follow when the ending sentence is much different than it began.
For a group that is just beginning to learn about rhyme, the adult could be the first to whisper the rhyming sentences.
6. From My Window Game
Practise rhyming skills with a fun travel game.
When kids see something out the window of the vehicle, they state its name and then words (real or pretend) that rhyme.
For example, “cow” followed by “how, now, jow, bow, gow, zow.” Remember that pretend rhyming words have as much value.
7. Clean-Up Rhyming Challenge
During clean-up time kids are challenged to name a rhyming word for each item they pick up to put away: book/look, block/frock, car/tar, and so forth.
8. Body Parts Rhyming
The leader points to a body part, such as “nose.” Instead of calling out what that is, the other players try to come up with words that rhyme, such as “rose.”
9. Colours Rhyming
A person who is “it” points to a coloured object or holds up a colour card, such as “red.” Instead of naming the colour, the other players are challenged to name rhyming words, such as “bed.”
10. Rhyming Names
Kids are challenged to think of names that rhyme with their own. These could be real names or just random words.
For the day, their name is then a combination of the two: Ken-Ben, Terri-Mary, Doug-Pug, Jan-Tan.
11. Numbers Rhyme
The leader writes or holds up a number card, such as a 2. Instead of calling out the number, the other players must name words that rhyme, such as “boo.”
12. Jump Rope Rhymes
Playing jump rope games with rhymes is another favourite childhood activity. These include “Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack,” “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,” and “Down in the Valley Where the Green Grass Grows.”
13. Make it 3
Call out two words that rhyme and then the children name the third. For example, the teacher/parent says “dive-alive” and kids add “hive.”
14. Odd Word Out
Turn the previous activity around. Name a group of three words, in which just two of them rhyme.
Kids must name the one word that does NOT rhyme with the others.
15. Good Night, Sleep Tight
At home, join your child in a rhyming goodnight ritual. As they say “Goodnight” to the various objects in their room, they try to name a rhyming word (real or pretend).
For example, “Goodnight bear-share” or “Goodnight drum-tum.”
As children progress from activities that are fully verbal to those in written form, they eventually notice that many rhyming words end with the same letters but some of them do not!
For example “boo” and “true” rhyme but vary in the spelling pattern. Assure them that those are still rhyming words but that in the English language, combinations of different letters can make the same sounds.
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