Playing with rhyming words can be fun, but rhyming also helps children learn about sound and letter patterns. Children learn that words can sound almost the same (bat/cat) and that by simply changing an initial letter or two, they can easily transform one word into another. These word skills are essential building blocks for reading and spelling. As they recognize and use rhyming words more often, kids will begin to see that if they can read or spell “pan,” they can also read and spell “man,” “can,” and “ran.”
Try some of these fun rhyming activities with your child.
- Musical rhymes–Sing or chant rhyming songs with your child. There are classic tunes like “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” or you can just make up your own song-filled rhymes. Research shows that many children retain a concept better when it is set to a rhythm or music. Kids also love silly songs, so make up your own songs and together come up with silly rhyming lyrics.
- Make up your own rhymes–Read nursery rhymes, rhyming poems, and rhyming books like those by Dr. Seuss. You can also make up your own rhyming stories or rhyme about everyday things. The sillier the rhyme, the better. (“Take a bath, then do some math.”) Encourage your child to help you come up with rhyming words and silly poems and stories–even if they are nonsensical, made-up words–to make their own poems and stories.
- Picture rhyming–Create rhyming flashcards by cutting out pictures of two things that rhyme (or drawing them), then gluing them onto index cards. For example, pictures of a cat and a hat. Write the word under its picture and show your child how rhyming words often share some of the same letters. (e.g., cat/hat). After you have made several rhyming matches, mix up the cards and see if your child can match the rhyming words again.
- Mystery Rhyme Box–Find some objects from around your house and place them into a shoebox. Give your child a real or made-up word and have him find the object in the box that rhymes with it. For example, you might tell your child to find the object that rhymes with “ten,” and in the box place a “pen.” Make sure your child pronounces both rhyming words so that he can hear the shared sounds.