Kids naturally gravitate toward rhyme; they love its sing-song nature. That’s a good thing because rhyming is so beneficial to pre-readers! Get inspired with these preschool and lower elementary rhyming activities.
Rhyming Words for Kids
Learning to rhyme isn’t automatic; it’s a learned skill. In order to rhyme, you need to be able to mentally break apart the sounds in a word.
Think about it: If I tell you to say a word that rhymes with “cool,” you would need to separate the beginning sound /k/ with the ending sound /ool/. Then your brain would shop around for other beginning sounds that can be matched with /ool/ to make a word with meaning. After some trial and error, you find /f/, pair it with /ool/, and say “fool.”
That’s a lot of steps, right? All this is basically automatic for you, but it’s not for your young language learner. She needs to learn this process, which is an essential pre-reading skill (to break apart words into their separate sounds and to connect words grouped by sound and spelling patterns) as it builds phonological awareness.
The good news is rhyming activities can train your child’s brain in a fun way. Rhyming activities focus on these steps: hearing rhyme, recognizing it, and forming your own.
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Rhyming Words for Preschool, Kindergarten and Beyond: Videos
There are a host of videos out there to expose your child to rhyme and help him recognize it. Take advantage of these playful audio-visual rhyming helps:
This video is a great formal introduction to rhyming and was created by the “Hooked on Phonics” team. It’s a fun a cappella tune with lots of rhyme!
This video pairs movement with recognizing rhyme, and it is by the kids’ songs guru Jack Hartmann. It also flashes the words themselves on the screen.
For those who want a quieter, talking lesson in rhyme, this video asks the child to recognize rhyme.
Another great rhyming track by Jack Hartman, this song is more advanced because it asks the child to provide the rhyme (step three for a child’s brain: forming their own rhymes).
Rhyming Word List
Where do you start with rhyme? Students need to recognize rhyming words from among the words they know. Use this list for the rhyming activities you play.
These words are grouped by word family (words that have the same ending sound and spelling). CVC words fall into this category as do many sight words.
Ab: cab, jab, crab, grab, slab
Ad: bad, sad, glad, mad, pad, Dad
Ag: bag, sag, wag, flag, rag
Am: Sam, Pam, ham, jam, clam
An: ban, tan, can, Dan, fan, man, pan, ran, van
Ap: cap, gap, lap, map, nap, rap, tap, zap
Ar: bar, car, far, tar, scar
At: cat, bat, fat, hat, mat, pat, sat, flat
Ed: bed, fed, red, Ted, wed
En: den, hen, men, pen, ten, then, when
Et: bet, let, met, net, pet, set, vet, wet, get
Id: bid, did, kid, lid, rid, Sid
Ig: big, dig, fig, wig, pig
In: pin, win, thin, fin, skin, tin, grin
Ip: dip, flip, grip, hip, lip, nip, rip, sip, slip, tip
It: bit, kit, sit, mitt, fit, quit
Ob: job, Bob, knob, glob, sob, rob
Og: frog, dog, fog, hog, jog, log
Op: mop, bop, top, drop, hop, pop, plop
Ot: cot, blot, hot, lot, pot, rot, dot
Ub: grub, rub, tub, sub, stub, club, scrub
Ug: bug, rug, mug, tug, shrug, jug, slug, snug
Um: glum, sum, gum, hum, plum, yum
Un: fun, run, sun, stun, spun, bun
Ut: hut, rut, nut, cut, but
When thinking of preschool and lower elementary rhyming activities, don’t forget the games! Here are some to try:
You can make your own cards using an online bingo card generator (you can choose words or pictures) or purchase a ready-made rhyming bingo game. You call out a word and your child finds a rhyming word on the card.
Turn all the cards over and flip them over two at a time. Try to find a matching rhyming pair. You can make your own cards (draw simple pictures on index cards) or use a set of rhyming cards.
Rhyming Go Fish
Use your rhyming memory cards another way–as cards for a game of go fish. “Do you have a rhyme for ‘wish’?”
Swat the Rhyme
You can use the rhyming cards in yet another way. Buy a fly swatter from the dollar store. Lay out three cards and call out a rhyme. The child swats the card that rhymes with the word you called. If he gets it right, he keeps the card. If not, you keep it in your stack to be reused.
This activity works well with beginning readers. Make a word with Bananagrams (or Scrabble tiles or letter magnets). Draw a picture of the object (e.g., hat) Then select some other beginning letters that would change the word (e.g., c, b, m, r). Let your child choose the next beginning letter and swap it out (e.g., rat). Draw a picture of the new word.
Take turns clapping twice and saying a word on the third clap (set a beat). Then your child claps twice and tries to come up with a word that rhymes to your word. See how long you can go!
Sticky Note Tower
Write a word on a sticky note and stick it to the wall. Brainstorm another word that rhymes with it and write that on another sticky note. Add it on the top of the first. How many words can you brainstorm? How tall is the tower? Can you make a taller tower with another set of rhyming words?
Nursery rhymes are time-tested, delightful ways to teach rhyming. If you add finger play and hand motions, you turn the rhyme into an activity. Nursery rhymes can be sung or spoken.
- Little Bo Peep
- Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Baa, Baa Black Sheep
- Rock-a-Bye Baby (I like to change the last lyric to “Mommy will catch baby, cradle and all.” I like a happy ending!)
- Jack and Jill
- Little Miss Muffet
- Humpty Dumpty
- Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (there are lots of verses to this–it’s from a poem)
- The Itsy-Bitsy Spider (or did you learn it as The Eensy-Weensy Spider?)
- Hey Diddle Diddle
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat
- Grand Old Duke of York
- Five Little Monkeys
- I’m a Little Teapot
- Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake
- Star Light, Star Bright
One of the best ways to introduce rhymes in small groups or in your lesson plans, in general, is to include some books about rhymes. They help to increase phonemic awareness and are a fun rhyming activity no matter how old your students are. Here are some of our favorite rhyming picture books:
Now that you have a full list of preschool rhyming activities, you can have fun with your children and get them one step closer to reading!