Rhyming isn't just for songs and nursery rhymes. It builds a strong base for reading. With April being designated as National Poetry Month, that's an extra reason to dive into the power of rhyme.
When children hear rhymes and begin making rhymes on their own, they are learning phonological awareness, which is the ability to hear and distinguish the sound structure of spoken words. There is a direct correlation between phonological awareness and reading ability, so rhyming is a great skill to teach and reinforce. Besides reading rhyming books, such as Duck In The Truck, and singing rhyming songs with your children, here are a few extra ways to nurture your kids' inner poet.
Rhyme During Dinner
Our little family gathers around the dinner table to visit, catch up and try not to get too much food on the floor. While it can be a messy time, I like to maximize our time at the dinner table by adding fun things to talk about while we eat, such as making rhymes. We start with a sound or a word, and then each person thinks of a rhyming word until no one can think of any more. For example at your table, you could pick a food on your plate, like a "pear." Daddy is next and says "bear"; Sister says "where"; and Brother says "hair." See how many you can come up with, and then try to beat your record with the next word that you choose.
'Finish the Sentence'
Get your preschooler thinking and listening with quick games of "Finish the Sentence." You can play it while you're getting ready in the morning; during bath time, which is our favorite; or at bedtime. You say a phrase, and then your kids need to complete the sentence with a rhyming word. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- I love carrots; I love peas; could you hand me a few ________________ (please, or any other rhyming word).
- Pirates love silver; pirates love gold. If you are young, then I am _____________ (old —but you're totally not old; we're just rhyming here!).
- School is awesome, and school is fun. I go to preschool until I am ___________ (done).
Reading Guessing Game
On your next library run, grab a few extra rhyming books that your little one hasn't read. Instead of reading the book to him verbatim, let him guess what rhyming words will end the sentences. This can be really fun when you make it a competition between your preschooler and Daddy or between siblings. This activity not only gets your little one excited about reading, but it also helps him think through the story based on pictures and words, which will help with reading readiness.
Nature Walk Rhyming
On your next walk around your neighborhood, try a rhyming walk. Pick out something that you see, say it aloud and ask your preschooler to think of a word that rhymes with it, such as tree/bee and rock/sock. Keep in mind, the words your little one says do not need to be real words. Nonsense words that rhyme still count. It is still teaching phonological awareness.
Pass the Rhyme
Walk around the house and toss some items in a basket or bucket. Sit in a circle with your family, pass the basket to the person beside you, and have him or her grab one item. The person should pick an item, name it and think of as many words, real or nonsense, that rhyme with the item's name as possible. When the person can't think of any more rhymes, he or she can pass the basket to the next player.
Try using rhyming nonsense words when you play with your preschooler. I usually try it when my son and I are playing with his toy kitchen or during bath time. I ask my son to please pass the "pizza man" while we are cooking. He thinks it is hilarious and that Mama is obviously confused, and he corrects me with "pizza pan." It's a great way to be silly, especially if one of us is in a grumpy mood because it is sure to get us laughing sooner rather than later.