Identifying rhyming words is an important component of phonological awareness. It helps young children hear, identify, and manipulate sounds in words. Developing a student’s phonological awareness is important to developing a good reader.
A simple way to explain rhyming words to students is they are words that have the same sound at the end.
Young students need a lot of practice with rhyming and it is a skill that I feel should be taught and reviewed through out the school year. For this reason, I like to have a variety of ideas and activities for practicing rhymes. Here are a few favorites:
Pass the Rhyme Game
For this game you will need a bean bag, ball, or any object that can be easily passed or thrown to another person. Students sit in a circle. Say a word and then pass or toss the bean bag to a student. That student then has to say a word that rhymes with your word and then passes or tosses the bean bag to another students. Play continues until students can not think of any more rhyming words. The student holding the bean bag at that point says another word and starts the game over.
Rhyming Relay Race
Divide students into teams. Give each student a rhyming picture card.
Line up each team on one end of the room or playing area and place a pile of picture cards that rhyme with the students’ picture cards on the other end of the room or playing area.
On your signal, the first person from each team runs to the other side of the room, finds their matching rhyming picture, and runs back to tag the next person in line. Play continues until one team has all their matching rhyming pictures.
Rhyming Partner Race
Give each student a rhyming picture card. On your signal, students must find another student that has a picture card that rhymes with their card. First pair wins.
Rhyming Scavenger Hunt
Hide rhyming picture cards around the room. Give students a picture checklist and have them hunt for rhyming words.
Rhyming Hide and Seek
Hide rhyming picture cards around the room. Give each student a picture card and have them hunt for the picture card that rhymes with theirs.
Lay the rhyming picture cards face down. Students take turns turning over 2 cards. If they rhyme, they keep the match and go again. If they do not match, they turn the cards back over and it is the next student’s turn. The winner is the student with the most matches.
Rhyming Freeze Tag
Play like traditional freeze tag but the “unfreezer” must say a word and in order to get unfrozen the frozen student must say a word that rhymes.
Digital Rhyming Game & Assessment
This is an interactive and engaging way for students to practice rhymes and it can also be used for assessment. Students help a rock band find rhyming words for their song. It is self-checking and no prep and BONUS it can be played on iPads, laptops, whiteboards, smartphones, or any device with an internet connection! It is called Rockin’ Rhymes and you can find it here. You can watch a short video demo below.
Reading rhyming books is one of the best ways to introduce and reinforce rhymes to students because they get to hear rhymes in a meaningful, engaging context.
While reading you can point out the rhymes, have students come up with additional words that rhyme with the ones in the text, pause and see if students can guess the upcoming rhyming word, or have students do a motion (put their hands on their heads) when they hear a rhyme.
Green Eggs and Ham is a favorite for introducing rhyming words to students because of the easy rhymes and limited wording.
There’s a Wocket in My Pocket! (Dr. Seuss’s Book of Ridiculous Rhymes) is a great book for using nonsense words to teach rhyming. There are some students who learn rhyming better using nonsense words.
Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend.
Rhyming Dust Bunnies gives students fun practice picking out the word that doesn’t rhyme with the others. These dust bunnies love to rhyme. Well, except for Bob. Much to the other bunnies’ frustration, Bob can never get the rhythm right. Then he saves everyone from a big, scary monster wielding—gasp!—a broom, and they all breathe a sigh of relief. But can Bob save them from the big, scary monster’s next attack? Vrrrrrroooommm . . .
Over in the Meadow is a classic book that I have loved reading for many years. Not only is the text good for reviewing/practicing rhyming words, but counting as well.
My Granny Went to Market will not only help young learners with rhyming words but counting and geography as well! Granny takes a magic carpet ride around the world, collecting a steadily increasing number of souvenirs from each exotic location! This rhyming story will take young readers on an adventure to different countries while teaching them to count along the way.
Goodnight Moon is a personal favorite of mine. I love sharing this book with young children and reviewing the rhymes as little bunny says goodnight to everything in the room.
Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site will become a favorite of students who love big trucks and machines! This rhyming book tells about all the hardworking trucks finishing up their work for the day and getting ready to say goodnight.
Firefighters!: Speeding! Spraying! Saving! (Things That Go) has simple rhyming text about firefighters, their equipment, and the work they do. The simple text allows students to guess the rhyming words in the story.
Flashing Fire Engines (Amazing Machines) is another book about fire fighters, their fire engines, and equipment that has wonderful rhyming text.
My Truck Is Stuck! is a fun book full of rhymes about a truck that gets stuck and all the vehicles that come and help.
Bear Snores On (The Bear Books) is a favorite to read during the winter months or when talking about hibernation. You can use the fun text to review rhymes as children hear about all the animals that visit bear’s cave while he is sleeping.
Old Tracks, New Tricks is a new book that any Thomas the Tank Engine fan or train enthusiast will love! The rhyming text tells about wooden train tracks Trixie, Tracky, and Tinker who are thrilled to finally join a train set of their own. Unfortunately, their excitement derails when they discover things at their new home are not what they expected.
It’s Hard to Be Five: Learning How to Work My Control Panel is a wonderful and funny rhyming book by Jamie Lee Curtis about the struggles of self-control. Great for the beginning of the year!
My Very First Mother Goose has a wonderful collection of nursery rhymes that are perfect to use when teaching about rhymes.
A fun and engaging way to teach rhymes is through silly songs. There are so many fun rhyming songs for young students that I couldn’t possibly list them all! I’ve decided to list some favorites that are also books because of the strong connection between music and literacy.
If you would like to view the book, click the book picture. If you would like to hear the tune of the song, click the song title link (YouTube link).
Down by the Bay by Raffi is one of my all-time favorites! It is so fun and silly and every class I have introduced it to instantly loves it!
On Top of Spaghetti – I remember singing this fun camp song as a kid and loving it! Students today are no different!
Free Rhyming Words Picture Cards
CLICK HERE to download this set of free rhyming word picture cards.