Sometimes, as teachers and parents, we adults can over-complicate things for children. Oral language skills, like rhyming, can fall into that category too easily. Teaching rhyming is very important, of course, but it doesn’t take ten pages of overly detailed lesson plans to accomplish this. So one of the main things you should remember about how to teach rhyming is that it doesn’t need to be complicated!
Here are five specific things to keep in mind as you’re introducing kiddos to the concept of rhyming.
Keep It Short
You don’t need to spend a huge amount of time directly teaching rhyming to children. As with all phonemic awareness activities, it’s best to only spend a few minutes a day on direct instruction. As with teaching letters, children learn rhyming best with hands-on, engaging, and meaningful activities. That’s where the bulk of your time should be spent, rather than sitting and explaining the concept.
Have an Anchor Chart in Your “How to Teach Rhyming” Toolkit
One way to directly introduce rhyming is via an anchor chart. Basically, write out a simple definition of rhyming to share with the children/students. To me, the simplest way to phrase it for kids is to say “rhyming words sound the same at the end”.
Have the chart ready one morning and simply read it to the children. Even better, turn it into a modeled writing lesson WITH the kids. Having the kiddos decorate the chart with pictures is another good way to get them involved in this process. Ideally, these pictures would depict rhyming words — for example, have a picture of a cat next to a bat.
This process of reading the chart and adding some rhyming pictures doesn’t need to take more than 5 minutes. Then, each day have the kids read the chart with you and say the rhyming pairs together. Again, this doesn’t need to take very long.
Incorporate a Ton of Rhyming Books into Your Day
We can’t talk about how to teach rhyming without talking about books! In my opinion, introducing rhyming to children is best done by reading rhyming books. It exposes the kids to how rhymes sound in a meaningful, engaging manner. While reading such books to the kiddos, it’s easy to point out the rhyming words by saying, “I hear rhyming words! ‘Dog’ and ‘fog’ rhyme.”
A simple extension would be to have the children come up with more words that rhyme with words in the book. Have them put on their “rhyming ears” and listen for rhyming words as you read.
Don’t Forget the Songs and Finger Plays
Another wonderful way to introduce rhyming is through songs, poems, and finger plays. Most kids love to sing, listen to, and dance along to music.
With the youngest children, simple finger plays do the trick. They’re short, contain rhyming words, and involve the kids in the music. “Five Little Monkeys” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” are favorites for a reason!
As children get older (moving from toddlers to preschoolers), they still enjoy finger plays. The older children also enjoy longer songs to sing and dance to, and rhyming words are often a part of such songs.
Remember to break out the nursery rhymes and short poems, too!
Use Children’s Names
Children’s names are incredibly meaningful to kids, making names an awesome teaching resource! Simple word plays with children’s names (and the names of those important to them) is another way of introducing rhyming concepts. Here are some ways to use names when introducing rhyming:
- Call kids by rhyming versions of their names — Silly Billy, Amusin’ Susan, Super Cooper, etc.
- Insert children’s names into songs and poems — “The itsy-bitsy MARY climbed up the water spout . . .”
- Play goofy name games that involve rhymes — “If your name rhymes with Zary, jump up and down. If your name rhymes with Bohn, turn around in a circle.”
- Sing some version of “The Name Game” with your children/students. A shorter, simpler version might be the best way to start with this. Definitely watch out for inappropriate word choices though! 😉
What are some tips you could share about how to teach rhyming to young children?
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Originally published April 16, 2013