Rhyming is one of the first skills that children can practice to start understanding letter-sound-word relationships and can be a fun way to expand early vocabulary by building on familiar word patterns that children are already comfortable with.
In addition to reading rhyming stories and nursery rhymes, try these simple rhyming games to continue reinforcing rhyming word patterns and expanding vocabulary with young children preparing for the first years of school.
The Rhyming Hat
Place five household objects into a hat or bowl (for example, a pencil, a pair of scissors, a spoon, a block, and a toy car). Think of a word that rhymes with one of the items and ask the child to remove it from the hat. For example, “remove the one that rhymes with sock.” Continue until the hat is empty. Don’t worry about using real words – simply use any words that rhyme with one of the items left in the hat. As a variation, have your child choose the objects and come up with the rhyming words themselves.
Create at least 10 cards with rhyming words and pictures (our kindergarten worksheets page has free rhyming flashcards) and lay them out face-down on a table. It is important that each card have a single corresponding card that rhymes (cat / hat, sock / block, rug / bug, pig / dig, bed / red, etc.). Take turns turning over two cards looking for a rhyming match. Make sure you say the words that rhyme when you do find a match.
Rhyming On The Go
Great for riding in a car, point out something you see (street, cloud, car, etc.) and ask your child to come up with as many words that rhyme as they can. It’s not important that they come up with real words, simply that they are able to generate words that match the rhyming pattern (car, bar, har, dar, far, zar and so on). As a variation, say two things that you see and have your child tell you whether or not they rhyme.
If you have a dry-erase board or a chalkboard, draw a simple sketch with several items (for example, a tree, a flower, and the sun). Ask your child to erase the item that rhymes with “fun” and continue until the entire picture is erased. Then have your child draw a similar picture and repeat until the board is clean again.
Rhyming “Go Fish”
Create a set of rhyming cards with sets of three or four objects that rhyme within. For example, create 15 cards with the words bat, hat, cat, bug, rug, mug, street, feet, beet, mop, pop, top, duck, truck, and buck. Play a game of “Go Fish” by dealing five cards to both of you and begin asking questions like, “Do you have any cards that rhyme with bat?” If so, hand them over – otherwise, “Go Fish.” When you or your child get a “book” of three cards that rhyme, place them face down and continue until all the cards are matched.
There are many other activities that can help children reinforce core language skills through rhyming, including singing rhyming songs, and playing with rhyming puzzles and refrigerator magnets. Don’t worry about creating actual words when getting started. It’s more important that children focus on understanding the rhyming word patterns and sounds.
The KinderIQ free Kindergarten Readiness Test features dozens of online questions to help you assess your child’s readiness for school and allows you to compare your responses to thousand of other parents so you know where to focus future learning activities.