Similar to teaching beginning readers about rhyme, teaching children about onset and rime helps them recognize common chunks within words. This can help students decode new words when reading and spell words when writing.
The "onset" is the initial phonological unit of any word (e.g. c in cat) and the term "rime" refers to the string of letters that follow, usually a vowel and final consonants (e.g. at in cat). Not all words have onsets.
Why teach about onset and rimes?
- They help children learn about word families, which can lay the foundation for future spelling strategies
- Teaching children to attend to onset and rime will have a positive effect on their literacy skills
- Learning these components of phonological awareness is strongly predictive of reading and spelling acquisition
|When to use:||Before reading||During reading||After reading|
|How to use:||Individually||With small groups||Whole class setting|
Teachers will find several helpful activities for onset and rime on the following link including many printable downloads.
See example >
These articles offer suggestions for how to use simple onset and rime activities to help students develop phonological awareness.
Tuning In to the Sounds of Words >
How Now Brown Cow: Phoneme Awareness Activities >
The information found on the website below can be used to make simple onset and rime activities and includes a home-school connection.
See example >
Construct-a-word: "ig" in Pig. The link below outlines a strategy that can be adapted to teach different onset and rime word patterns. This activity helps teachers isolate and teach the rime "ig" using the book If you Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff. There is an instructional plan that accompanies the activity and extension ideas included to advance the learning process.
See example >
Download blank templates
Children's books to use with this strategy
Cha Cha Chimps
Picture book/counting book
Chimps from one to ten counting sneak out to dance their rhyming way around and through this very funny counting book.
Clang! Clang! Beep! Beep! Listen to the City
Picture book/concept book
Rhyming couplets describe city sounds with illustrations embedding the onomatopoeic sounds.
Fox in Socks
Tongue twisters abound in this lively and easy to read book by the famous doctor.
A Huge Hog is a Big Pig
Picture book/concept book/game book
Photographs and limited text ask and answer these very funny questions (each answer is provided within a word family); can also be used in blending/segment (see below) and rhyming.
for second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and for younger learners
- Have students create and write word sorts of the target word pattern
- Use pictures instead of words in activities for younger and lower level readers
See the research that supports this strategy
Bear, D., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (1996). Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Chard, D., & Dickson, S. (1999). Phonological Awareness: Instructional and Assessment Guidelines.
Ellis, E. (1997). How Now Brown Cow: Phoneme Awareness Activities.
Goswami, U., & Mead, F. (1992). Onset and rime awareness and analogies in reading. Reading Research Quarterly, 2, 153-162.
Wise, B. W., Olson, R. K., & Treiman, R. (1990). Subsyllabic units as aids in beginning readers word learning Onset-rime versus post-vowel segmentation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 4, 1-19.