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Rhyming for Young Readers

Guest Author - Heidi Shelton Jenck

Learning to identify and produce words that rhyme is an important skill for young children. Researchers say providing direct instruction and learning activities with rhyming words can help children learn to read. Rhyming games, poems, and songs are also a lot of fun!

Words that rhyme sound the same at the end. Rhyming words donít need to be spelled the same. For example, toad, glowed, and code are rhyming words that are spelled differently, but sound the same at the end.

Early readers typically learn short vowel words quickly, such as pen, Ben, men, ten or cat, fat, mat, sat when they have strong phonemic awareness skills, including rhyming. Children benefit from direct instruction on rhyme recognition and production when they also have opportunities to practice.

Rhyming skill building can be done using songs, poems, and books. Nursery rhymes are a simple way to introduce rhyming.

There are many entertaining rhyming picture books that can also be used to introduce and practice identifying and producing rhyming words. As you read a rhyming book, leave off the second rhyming word and ask the children to provide the missing word. For example, you can read aloud Down to the Sea With Mr. Magee listed below. As you read passages, such as: A big box of raisins, some sweet pickled beets, chocolate chip cookies and crunch dog __________________, pause, and let children fill in the rhyming word. The word listed in the story is treats. Many children will quickly say the expected word during a read-aloud. However, rhyming practice can include coming up with a variety of words, even silly ones, to fill in the blanks.

Dr. Seuss books are a treasure trove of rhyming words. Some other picture books with many rhyming words are:

  • The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman

  • Down to the Sea With Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen

  • Jamberry by Bruce Degen

  • Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood

  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback


Songs and poems can be used in the same way as books to build phonological awareness. As you sing a song with rhyming words, leave off the second rhyming word, and gesture to the children to fill in the blank.

Once students are comfortable identifying and generating rhymes in stories, poems, and songs, they can be given practice activities such as matching and drawing rhyming pictures, playing rhyming memory games and board games, and worksheets that encourage identifying and matching rhyming words. Try word family activities, such as forming simple consonant-vowel-consonant words with plastic letters and replacing the initial consonant to create rhyming words.

Scholastic Teacherís Friend Rhyming Learning Puzzles are a fun way for younger children to practice rhyming skills. This game gives children a chance to match several rhyming words. To view it on Amazon.com, click the picture below:



Rhyming Word Puzzles by Didax are simpler, but also a fun practice activity. Children match rhyming pairs. To view it on Amazon.com, click the picture below:




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Phonemic Awareness Basics
Blending and Segmenting Words in Reading
10 Fun Early Reading Activities
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Content copyright © 2014 by Heidi Shelton Jenck. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Heidi Shelton Jenck. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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