Repost from an article I wrote for ABC & 123, on 5/03/10:
Whether you’re taking your kids to preschool, enjoying a walk, or just lazying around in the back yard, any time is a good time to play with rhyming words. Rhyming in any shape or form is super important because it helps our little ones develop phonological awareness, or the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sound units in words.
Believe it or not, phonological awareness plays a huge role in early literacy development. If kids are not able to hear individual sounds in words, then they will not be able to read words on the page, write words, or understand what they read. So let’s start rhyming!
Here are four easy and exciting ways of sneaking in some “rhyme time” into your every day:
- Rhyme Challenge: An easy game that requires no set-up, clean-up, or materials whatsoever, you can play Rhyme Challenge just about anywhere. We often play it in the car or while we’re waiting to pick up my oldest from kindergarten.
One person chooses a word and says, I challenge you to think of as many rhymes as you can for ‘cat’ (or any word). And the next player says as many words as he can that rhyme with that word. Both players keep count. I try to model saying the given word with the rhyming word so my little ones stay on track with rhymes (Cat, bat. Cat, hat. Cat, mat. . . ), but this isn’t necessary for older kids.
We also play where one person chooses a word, and we take turns saying just one rhyming word, one right after the other. Sometimes we kick it up with ‘speed rounds’ where we yell out rhyming words as fast as we can, and other times, we just take it slow. Depends on the day.
- Rhyme Sorts: Rhyme Sorts are simply pictures of rhyming words on cards that kiddos place into proper categories.
Rhyme Sorts always begin with an ‘anchor word’ that identifies the rhyme of each category, and then together, we name each picture and determine into which column it belongs.
It’s best to begin Rhyme Sorts with only two different rhymes, after which you can introduce three- or five- rhyme sorts. The great thing about Rhyme Sorts is that little ones can see a picture, connect it with a sound, and can very clearly compare one sound to another.
Making solid comparisons like this–and isolating individual sounds this way–is a great way of developing phonological awareness for little ears.
- Rhyme Bingo: Rhyme Bingo is the next step after Rhyme Sorting, and if your kids are anything like mine, any bingo game is a huge hit. Add a little rhyme, and everyone’s happy!
Rhyme Bingo puts nine pictures on each board, with cards containing a picture of a word that may–or may not–rhyme with the pictures on a player’s board.
After each player takes a minute to say all of the pictures on her card, the game’s on and all ears are listening for rhyming words on the cards as they are flipped. As a card is turned, we say, Okay, ‘sail’. Sail, tree. Sail, can. . . ,and we go through each person’s board to see if she has a picture that rhymes with ‘sail’.
As players get comfortable with the game, more can be done individually, but initially the practice is helpful for everyone. Rhyme Bingo is an extremely simple concept that continues to emphasize simple sounds in words.
- Rhyme Go Fish!: Rhyme Go Fish! is just like the old Go Fish! game we all love, except that this version uses rhyme words on cards.
This game is great for emerging readers who already have a handful of sight words and early word families down.
To play Rhyme Go Fish!, all of the cards are placed in the ‘pond’ and each player takes five cards. After checking to see if they have any rhyming pairs, the game begins.
Player one asks the player to his left, Do you have a word that rhymes with ‘men’? Player two reads her words and determines whether she has a match or not; if she does, she hands it to the first player. If not, she says, Nope! Go Fish! Play continues until the first player has no cards in his hand.
Rhyme Go Fish! has been a hit with my oldest and many of my students. It’s a fun–and exciting–way of reinforcing rhyming and early reading skills!
Rhyming is important for all of our learners, whether they are reading or not. It’s easy, it’s muy importante, so rhyme away!