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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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Vanesia D

says:

My 12 year old struggles with rhyming. These are great tips.

Crystal

says:

Great information!

Shanna

says:

Love all the ideas for games.

Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Shanna! I’m glad you like these.

Stephanie

says:

Very interesting!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Stephanie.

Jhk

says:

Still working on this with my pre-reader!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have questions or need additional suggestions.

Brittany

says:

I’ve been wondering if I’m teaching rhyming right, so this was helpful! My daughter is learning to read at 4 but hasn’t gotten the hang of rhyming yet. All in time I suppose.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Brittany,
Yes, some children just need more time and more focused attention on rhyming to master this skill. I hope you find the stages and tips in this blog post helpful. However, if you have concerns or questions, please let me know.

Aly

says:

This is one of my favorite programs. Even years later.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Aly!

Stephanie Rasmussen

says:

‘Get out of the wagon’ is a simple yet fun way to practice identifying rhymes.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad you like this activity, Stephanie!

Brooke

says:

This is so interesting! I had no idea but will start with some of these ideas with my 3yo.

Michaela

says:

Love all these ideas! My 3.5 year old makes up silly songs and she will naturally create her own rhymes and make up words that rhyme. She seems to do it naturally without thinking about it but if I ask her directly for a word that rhymes with cat, for example, it takes her some time to think of something.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It sounds like your child is doing very well considering her age, Michaela! She may need more practice with stage 3 of rhyming, but it sounds like it won’t take much. Keep up the great work!

Amy Ludwig

says:

We love playing rhyming games, and even singing rhyming words! Glad to know this is going to help my son succeed at spelling!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Rhyming is important for reading too. Plus, as you have found, it’s fun!

Julie Herd

says:

I love all the fun games that reinforce the skills taught. These are great ideas for rhyming!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Julie! Glad you like these ideas.

Jordan Shepherd

says:

Thank you! So excited to start this program.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Jordan! Let us know if you have any questions or need help with anything.

Rebecca

says:

We love playing “Get Out of the Wagon” thank you for the tips!

Laurie Bradshaw

says:

Thank you for such good reading materials!

Brittany N

says:

Love all the free resources on top of these wonderful programs from All About Learning Press 😃

Jennifer

says:

Nursery Rhymes were our favorite way to learn rhyming!

Angela

says:

My son loves to just pick a random word, and then make up silly, nonsensical words that go with it!

Marleigh

says:

How fun! Never thought of playing a rhyme game.

Marleigh

says:

How fun! Never thought of playing a game.

Nicole

says:

My daughter LOVES rhyming! In fact, she makes up words just so they can rhyme with a real word. Looking forward to some hands-on rhyming activities with your pre-reading program!

rebecca

says:

a lot of parents don’t relize how important this is!!

Jenny

says:

I wish I had had this information when my son didn’t pick up rhyming easily and naturally as his older siblings did.

Wendy

says:

Nursery Rhymes has always been gone off my favorite ways to introduce rhyming. We also try to rhyme during everyday conversation. All printable and games we have tried have been truly amazing.

Kristin

says:

Great suggestions! Dr. Seuss is a great author to read for rhyming

Holly

says:

I always thought rhyming would just come natural for kids, but there certainly is a need to spend time teaching it.

Brittni

says:

Great Program! We just started and I am already noticing a difference in my kids learning.

Catherine

says:

Thank you for the great tips and resources.

Amanda Raemer

says:

Love these rhyming activity ideas!

Heather Harrison

says:

Great program for large families!