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four pairs of rhyming words with illustrations

Rhyming Games

Rhyme is found in poetry, songs, and many children’s books and games. Most children also love to sing and recite nursery rhymes. Words that can be grouped together by a common sound, for example the “-at” family — cat, hat, and sat — can be used to teach children about similar spellings. Children can use these rhyme families when learning to read and spell.

Key Information


Phonological awareness

Appropriate Group Size

With small groups
Whole class setting

Why teach about rhyming?

Developing a child’s phonological awareness is an important part of developing a reader. Young children’s ability to identify rhyme units is an important component of phonological awareness. Research shows that students benefit from direct instruction on rhyme recognition paired with fun activities that target this skill.

Recognizing rhymes (small group)

At Eisenhower Elementary in Enid, Oklahoma, teacher Ashley Powell uses “cat” and “fish” to help students practice recognizing rhyming words. (From our sister project, Reading Universe (opens in a new window))

What rhymes with this picture? (whole class)

Students decide if their objects rhyme with a picture, and then compare written rhyming words. (Balanced Literacy Diet: Putting Research into Practice in the Classroom)

Collect resources

Rhyme book

Students can draw pictures of objects that rhyme or cut out rhyming pictures found in magazines and place them in their books.

Rhyming activities

This printable includes objectives, directions, and materials for nine different rhyming activities developed by the Florida Center for Reading Research. Rhyming activities ›

Rhyming words: body parts game

Learn how to play this simple rhyming game, where kids think of words that rhyme with different body parts such as head or eye

Space-themed rhymes

This file folder game helps students match rhyming words. Teachers can download and print the game, including all materials and instructions. Space-themed rhyming game › (opens in a new window)

Word family chart

This Reading Rockets article describes several ideas for rhyme games and classroom activities. One example provided is how to create a word family chart from various rhyming words. Teachers can use rhyming words from a story or nursery rhyme to pull words for the chart. How Now Brown Cow: Phoneme Awareness Activities ›

Teaching rhyming

Learn more about teaching rhyming in this skill explainer from our sister site, Reading Universe. You’ll find classroom videos, lesson plans, student practice activities, and more. 

Differentiate instruction

For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners

  • Use pictures instead of words in activities for younger and lower level readers
  • Include oral rhyming activities.
  • Include a writing activity for more advance learners.
  • Use blank diagrams for more advance learners to complete (see example here (opens in a new window)).

See the research that supports this strategy

Bradley, L., & Bryant, P. (1985). Rhyme and reason in reading and spelling. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Bryant, P., MacLean, M., & Bradley, L. (1990). Rhyme, language, and children’s reading. Applied Psycholinguistics, 11, 237-252.

Moats, L. & Tolman, C. (2008). The Development of Phonological Skills.

Snow, C., Burns, M., & Griffin, P. (Eds.). (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Children’s books to use with this strategy

Topics this strategy is especially helpful for

Phonological and Phonemic Awareness