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.
|How to use:||Individually||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.
In this skill tutorial video from Heggerty, the instructor discusses and models rhyme repetition, rhyme recognition, and rhyme production. (Heggerty)
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)
Match the rhyming objects (small group)
In small groups, students match images of objects that rhyme to develop phonological awareness. (Balanced Literacy Diet)
Students can draw pictures of objects that rhyme or cut out rhyming pictures found in magazines and place them in their books.
This PDF includes objectives, directions, and materials for nine different rhyming activities developed by the Florida Center for Reading Research.
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."
The file folder game found on the link below helps students match rhyming words. Teachers can download and print the game, including all materials and instructions.
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.
for Second Language Learners, students of varying reading skill, and for 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).
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
Sheep in a Jeep
Silly rhymes about silly activities make the words jump off the page, complemented by humorous illustrations.
Jaunty rhymes (that just may be 'sing-able') are likely to lead to wordplay (literally) as one follows the animal cast play with berries of all kinds.
Giraffes Can't Dance
Gerald, the giraffe, is told by the other jungle animals that he can't dance. Of course, they're proven wrong as Gerald does his thing in this rhyming tale. This book may also inspire alliterative use of language.
I Can’t Said the Ant
An improbable cumulative tale with lots of interesting rhymes that uses illustrations as clues for meaning.
Hamsters, Shells, and Spelling Bees: School Poems
Familiar subjects are presented in short poems by a range of writers. These easier-to read works are just right to encourage careful listening.
Llama Llama Red Pajama
Even the bedtime rituals don’t subdue the dramatic baby llama and the nighttime fears that descend when Mama Llama leaves his room. Young readers (and their parents) will see their own behavior in the rhyming text and expressive and winning illustrations.