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5 Ways to Teach Rhyming

Preschooler hugging All About Reading Pre-reading readers

Did you know that rhyming is one of the best predictors of how easily a child will learn to read? That’s because good rhymers are better equipped to notice that rhyming words often have shared letter sequences, such as all in tall, ball, and small, which in turn gives them a considerable head start in learning to read.

Most children enjoy hearing and participating in rhyming activities, and when they are exposed to rhyming, they usually pick it up naturally.

But if your child isn’t good at rhyming yet, don’t worry! There are many things you can do to help. Read on!

Does Your Child Know How to Rhyme?

Use this simple test to find out whether your child knows how to rhyme. If your child needs help in this critical area, read on to discover how to teach your child to recognize and produce rhyme.

click to download a rhyming test

Three Stages of Rhyming Ability

It’s helpful to know that children don’t just start off rhyming. In fact, they generally go through three stages. In the order of easiest to hardest, those stages are:

the 3 stages of rhyming ability chart

Recognizing rhyme is a skill your child must master before he can produce rhyme, so you’ll first want to focus on helping your child recognize rhyme. Here are some activities that can help.

5 Simple Ways to Teach Rhyming

teach rhyming with rhyming picture books

Read rhyming picture books together.

There are hundreds of great rhyming books, and this Rhyming Picture Books Library List is a good place to start. As you read, occasionally point out words that rhyme. (“Oh, goat and boat rhyme! They sound the same at the end. Goat, boat.”)

Teach rhyming with Get Out of the Wagon rhyming game

Play “Get Out of the Wagon” with your child.

“Get Out of the Wagon” is a popular Stage 2 rhyming game. In this downloadable activity, three word cards—like rake, cake, and king—are placed in a wagon. The child determines which word doesn’t rhyme and tells it to “get out of the wagon.”

teach rhyming with nursery rhymes

Share nursery rhymes with your child.

Nursery rhymes are conducive to reciting again and again. After your child knows the nursery rhymes, let him fill in the rhyming words to work on Stage 2. On this downloadable library list, you’ll find some wonderful nursery rhyme collections to enjoy together.

teach rhyming with What's in My Bag? rhyming game

Play “What’s in My Bag?” with your child.

Once your child can successfully recognize rhymes, this activity will help him learn to produce rhymes (a Stage 3 skill). Just fill a bag with several common household items (here are some ideas) and you’re ready to play “What’s in My Bag?”

teach rhyming with Dinner Time rhyming game

Play “Dinner Time” with the whole family.

For more advanced Stage 3 rhyming, download this fun “Dinner Time” game. But make sure to play “Dinner Time” with the whole family. It’s guaranteed to provide lots of giggles for kids and parents alike!


Teaching Rhyming to Preschoolers - All About Reading

The Bottom Line on Teaching Rhyming to Your Child

It may not happen overnight, but with repeated exposure, your child will learn to rhyme. Most importantly, keep your rhyming practice fun and light—it shouldn’t feel like a “lesson” to a young child.

Is there a rhyming activity that your child enjoys? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Photo credit: Rachel Neumann

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Jessica Flaharty

says:

These activities are great!! Thanks so much for sharing!

Dom

says:

hello! im trying to print the “get out of the wagon” activity. it’s only printing the first page. i’ve tried many different printer settings both on my laptop and the copier itself. if there’s any way you can help i’d greatly appreciate it! thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so sorry you are having such trouble printing the activities, Dom. Are you still not able to print? What type of computer are you using? Can you print things from other websites?

Esther

says:

Thank you! I love your clear instructions and games!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Esther!

Jenn

says:

Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jenn!

Jenn

says:

Thanks so much for all this! My almost 5 year old son, who is in speech therapy, was just diagnosed with Expressive Language Disorder and is having difficulty understanding rhymes. Any specific advice for us/him?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jenn,
Rhyming is difficult for some children. The best thing you can do is to pay attention to where he is in the stages of rhyming outlined in this blog post. Spend LOTS of time each day exposing your son to rhyming books, rhyming songs, playing with rhymes, and so on. Reread and resing the same books and songs often, so he can start to predict what comes next. Once you feel he knows a book or song well, try pausing just before a rhyming word is given and see if he can provide it. Encourage him to learn nursery rhymes and silly poems and say them with you. Make up rhymes with the names of family members and pets and use them.

Note, rhymes do not have to be real words! Feel free to use nonsense words to rhyme with, and if he tries to rhyme with nonsense words praise him up and down for it! (But don’t ask him to produce rhymes himself at this stage, just if he does it spontaneously.)

Stay in stage one as long as he needs to be very comfortable with hearing and repeating rhyming.

S.pranadhi

says:

Super 👌

Laura

says:

Great resources! Thank you :)

Barbara Rogers

says:

Your poems sounds to be terrific. Please send

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Barbara,
Here is the link for a printable library list of rhyming picture books.

Viktoria

says:

Great activities!

Getrude

says:

Thank you very much for this information. I would love to learn more on how to teach rhymes

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Getrude.

Do you have any specific questions about teaching rhyme that isn’t covered in this blog post? Often children that struggle with rhyming need a lot more time in stage 1, being exposed to rhyme through books, poetry, songs, and such.

Sonia Srivastava

says:

Thank you. I had created a rhyming room and children identified the rhyming words.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What an interesting idea, Sonia! I’d love to hear a description of your rhyming room.

Smita jain

says:

Very impressive

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Smita.

Fane

says:

Thank you ,Smita
👸👸

Florence Britton

says:

Wonderful source of resources to teach preschoolers about rhyming. I was happy to have these examples to use on my practice teaching. It helped me to prepare instruction to engaged the students. Thanks

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Florence! I’m glad this is helpful for your teaching.

Lisa

says:

Thank you for these wonderful resources! I appreciate how simple and effective they are. I look forward to adding these into our nursery rhyme unit at preschool.

alifiya

says:

superb ideas, thanks for sharing these types of games

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Alifiya!

Elizabeth

says:

So much fun!

sheree ann ferrer gallardo

says:

it is nice to be here!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It’s great to have you hear, Sheree!

Ofelia

says:

Excellent recommendations!! We are going through the pre reading program and didn’t realize how important rhyming is. We are enjoying these so much. Thanks so much

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are so welcome, Ofelia! I’m very pleased to hear you are enjoying these. 😊

Rajeswari

says:

Great ideas.
Will try to use them in my distance learning classes this year.
Thanks

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Rajeswari! I hope your students have a lot of fun with these. 😊

Beth Anne Witmer

says:

This is a great post with lots of good ideas! My 4.5 year old son likes to try to rhyme words but he doesn’t quite have it down yet. He thinks rhyming is making a word with the same beginning sound. So we’ll be working through some of these this year.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Beth,
Rhyming can be tricky for a lot of little ones, but they can learn it with help. I’m glad you have found this post helpful.

Lenny

says:

How do I use action rhymes to teach grade2 learners how to read in a learner centred way…please help

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lenny,
Action rhymes are a great way to teach rhyming, which is an important skill for a child to have before learning to read. Action rhymes are rhyming songs that have hand movements to go along with it and the movements reinforce the rhyme and rhythm for young learners. It would be best to use action rhymes that your children may be already familiar with, such as playground rhyming games and the sort of songs mothers or older siblings sing to toddlers. However, you can search for videos online of action rhymes to teach your students. If you keep it fun and playful, it will be learner-centered!

I hope this helps, but please let me know if you have more questions.

Stacy

says:

Can you share links to any action rhyme songs you use? I’d love to try them with my kindergarten classes!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stacy,
I sang old, familiar nursery action songs that I remembered from my own childhood with my own children. Here is a list (you can use a search engine to find videos of the songs with the actions):
Itsy-Bitsy Spider
I’m a Little Teapot
Miss Mary Mack
Wheels on the Bus
Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around
Little Bunny Foo Foo
Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

I know there are many more songs too. I’ve seen quite a few YouTube videos on this topic.

Louise - South Africa

says:

What a fabulous set of resources and teaching strategies. I am a teacher in South Africa. We are coming out of lockdown just as our pandemic is about to surge as our economy is failing dismally. We have been ordered to go back to school. Rather daunting. Trying to find exciting ideas to send home to those who will not be sending children back to school. Thank you for being so kind. So many people around the world have been exceptionally generous during this time and you cannot imagine how you have made our teaching lives a little easier. We cannot do online learning as our community is too poor. So we are designing lessons via Whatsapp and then printing packs off to be collected every second week by a parent. This is a time of making the most with what we have. So grateful

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m so pleased to hear that you have found our blog helpful for your students during this time, Louise! If you ever need anything specific, just let me know.

isabel gonzalez

says:

Thank you, wonderful activities that help develop skill in our children.

Masango Rose

says:

How to teach the rhyme of if you happy and you know it clap your hands

sujathasriram

says:

It improves child’s metacognition. wonderful ideas.

Vickie

says:

Thank You great resource for a parent.

Natalie Homer

says:

Loved this information thankyou.
Really useful in lockdown and sending activities home to nursery children.
Thankyou

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Natalie! I’m happy this has been helpful for you with your students.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Vickie. Let me know if you ever need anything.

Cherie

says:

Thank you. Great extra games!

Arseli Herrera

says:

Thank you for all the resources and tips for teaching rhyming…Definitely will use with my prek students..

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Arseli! We have so much available for preschoolers. You may want to check it out.

Michelle

says:

This is where we are! My son had started saying some of the words in our books that rhymed but struggled with some of the rhymes in lesson 2 of the prereading level. Which some were a little tricky but not bad. Hopefully we can figure out how to clarify it!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
It may be your son isn’t quite ready for stage 2 of rhyming yet. Spend lots of time in stage 1, enveloping his days with all sorts of rhyming songs, books, poetry, and games. You could go on with the Pre-reading lessons while you do it.

I’d love to hear how it goes.

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