Time to Rhyme


By Rachel Wells

If you have ever read your young child a nursery rhyme, congratulations- you may not know this, but you have already begun to lay a solid foundation for your child learning how to read! These seemingly silly passages give children an introduction to rhyming words, and can strengthen their ability to hear the sounds of our language – a skill that will benefit them when they learn how to connect sounds to letters in kindergarten.

Solid phonemic awareness (the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sounds in words) is essential to becoming a successful reader. Rhyming is one of the basic phonemic awareness skills taught in early childhood.

Research shows that children who are familiar with nursery rhymes have an easier time learning to read, so what is the connection?

1. Rhyming helps children discover common word patters, and the more familiar they are with these patterns in oral language, the easier it will be for them when they start to decode them in print.

2. A child’s ability to hear rhymes is essential for learning to read because it means they can hear the differences between individual sounds and how words sound.

3. Rhyming adds some fun to the often difficult task of learning to read.

4. A solid foundation of being able to rhyme leads to improved writing abilities.

How you can help teach rhyming skills to your child?

1. Use music and songs to teach rhymes. Do finger plays with young preschool aged children and invite them to participate.

2. Read storybooks that use rhyme and rhythm, and encourage your child to listen for rhyming words on each page. Pause throughout the story to ask your child which rhyming words they heard. (Nursery rhymes are great for this!)

3. Repetition is key. Rhyming is not an easy skill to learn. Give your child lots of opportunities to practice.

4. Ask your child to name things that rhyme with objects in your house. “Can you tell me something that rhymes with the word mittens?”

5. Play I-spy with rhyming words at home. “I spy something that rhymes with label…”

6. Challenge your child to see how many words they can think of that rhyme with a word you give them.

7. Make a game of rhyming memory – but instead of just matching pictures, have your child match rhyming words. You can make your own cards by drawing pairs of rhyming words on index cards, laying them face down, and taking turns flipping over two cards at a time in order to make a rhyming word match.

8. Remember that it’s okay to let you child rhyme with you using nonsense words instead of real words (i.e. apple, bapple). This allows children to focus on the sounds rather than the meaning. Through practice, children will begin to use more real words than nonsense words.

Childrens books to add to your personal library:

These engaging storybooks are filled with rhyme and rhythm.

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw

Moose on the Loose by Kathy-jo Wargin

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas

Snowman at Night by Caralyn Buehner

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson

There’s a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! By Karen Beaumont

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