Rhyming Activities For Preschoolers

Wondering how to teach rhyming words? Get fun rhyming activities for preschoolers to teach rhyming before beginning sounds games that focus on phonemes.

Why Teach Rhyming to Preschoolers?

The ability to rhyme falls under the umbrella of pre-reading skills called phonological awareness.

If you've tried phonemic awareness activities to prepare your preschooler for learning letter sounds and it's not yet clicking, try some rhyming activities!

Some preschoolers find it easier to identify rhyming words compared with isolating individual speech sounds (phonemes) in beginning sounds games to develop phonemic awareness.

Teaching rhyming is important because difficulty understanding rhyming during the preschool and kindergarten years is one of the possible early warning signs of dyslexia.

Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence or a desire to learn! Brain imaging studies simply indicate differences in how the brain develops and functions in people with dyslexia.

Early identification of possible dyslexia is extremely important because children with dyslexia can develop reading skills through explicit and systematic instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics.

How To Explain Rhyming Words to Preschoolers

The best way to explain rhyming words to preschoolers is model your own awareness of how two words sound the same at the end.

Simply give an example of rhyming words pairs, and then mention that you hear the same sound at the end of the words.

When you are thinking of rhyming words, it's ok to ignore how they are spelled. 

Teaching rhyming is a spoken language activity! It doesn't matter if the spelling of the rhyming part of the word is different when the words are written. 

For example, the words "tree", "pea" and "key" will work well when you are explaining rhyming to preschoolers because we are only focused on the sound, not the spelling. These words all sound the same at the end, and that's what you want your child to focus on when you are explaining rhyming words.

Stages of Understanding Rhyming

It's ok if your preschooler doesn't understand rhyming the first time you try to explain rhyming words. It's helpful to know the three stages of understanding rhyming and keep them in mind when you're doing rhyming activities with your preschooler. That way you can be sure that the rhyming activity isn't too easy or too difficult.

Hearing Words That Rhyme - Exposure to rhyming happens naturally when you read rhyming books and poems to your preschooler, or when you sing songs and do finger plays with rhyming words. It's also easy to make a point of talking about rhyming words during casual conversations. You can rhyme anytime and anywhere! For example, when you're in the car with your child you could say, "I’m thinking of words that rhyme with car... Car, star, jar, far, scar. They all sound the same at the end! They rhyme!

Recognizing Words That Rhyme - Then you can try some easy and simple rhyming activities to help your preschooler recognize and identify rhyming words. It's fun to use rhyming objects or rhyming picture cards as props for these rhyming games. For example, you might have 2 objects and you ask your preschooler whether or not they rhyme.

Producing Words That Rhyme - You'll know that your preschooler really understands rhyming when your preschooler can come up with more words that rhyme with a word you say.

How To Teach Rhyming to Preschoolers: 7 Rhyming Activities with Rhyming Pictures or Rhyming Objects

Now I'll share ideas and resources for teaching rhyming to preschoolers. Each of the following rhyming games will help your preschooler recognize the ending part of spoken words that sound the same.

It's important to play these rhyming games for only as long as your child is interested.

If your 3 or 4 year old child isn't understanding these rhyming games, then take a break and focus on rhyming books, songs and finger plays and create opportunities to model rhyming casually throughout the day.

If you will be using these ideas to buy or make rhyming words activities at home, be sure to avoid rhyming words cards with words printed on them.

The focus should be on hearing the rhyming part of the spoken words to develop phonological awareness, not the spelling of rhyming words.

Odd Word Out or What Doesn't Belong With Rhyming Objects

If you've already started to build a collection of Montessori language objects for teaching phonics, then pull out the ones that rhyme to create a rhyming game with objects.

Or, save yourself some time and buy a set of rhyming objects from my shop!

To introduce the concept of what it means for words to rhyme, gather two objects that rhyme and one that doesn't rhyme. 

Let's say you have a jug, mug and pin. You'll name each one as you set it out. Then comment on how jug and mug rhyme because they sound the same at the end, but pin sounds different at the end and that's why it doesn't rhyme. Together with your child, think of and say more words that rhyme with jug and mug such as hug, tug, rug and bug.

If you play this rhyming game with pictures instead of objects, then set out groups of 3 pictures (a rhyming pair and one picture that doesn’t rhyme). Then invite your child to turn over the picture that doesn’t rhyme.

Rhyming Objects Word Matching Game

Which One Rhymes?

Lay out 2 pictures or objects that don't rhyme. Say a word that rhymes with one of the pictures or objects. Invite your child to touch the picture or object that rhymes with the word you said.   

Rhyming Pairs Matching Game With Rhyming Pictures

Gather about 5 rhyming pairs of pictures. Add a sticker dot to the front of one picture from each set of rhyming pairs so you can easily set up the game.

Rhyming Word Pictures Matching Game

One at a time, name and place the image cards with the sticker dots along the top of the table or mat. Leave some space between each picture.

Select one picture from those that remain and say its name. “This is a coat. I’m going to find the picture that rhymes.” [Point to the object on the left of the row.] "Coat, boat ... they sound the same at the end! They rhyme! Coat, boat." Place the rhyming pair together.

Take out the next card, name it and try to find its rhyming pair. Point to the next object in the row. “This is a bat. Bat, car. Hmm. That sounds different at the end.” Continue: “Bat, pear. They don't rhyme." Try again: "Bat, hat. That sounds the same at the end! It rhymes! Bat, hat. Place the rhyming pair together.

Then invite your child to find the remaining rhyming pairs. Continue for as long as your child is interested. You can repeat this rhyming activity with the same cards or choose a different set of 5 rhyming pairs of pictures.

At the end of the activity, you can also invite your child to choose one picture and then, together with your child, say all the words you can think of that rhyme with that word.

 Rhyming Words Matching Game Printable for Pre-K

Memory Game with Rhyming Pairs of Words

Shuffle a set of rhyming pairs of pictures and lay them face down on a floor mat or table. Invite your child to turn over two cards. If they rhyme, your child keeps the cards and has another turn. If they are not a rhyming pair, then your child turns the cards face down. Take turns until all rhyming pairs are found.

Rhyming Words Clip Cards

Name the objects on one of the cards. Together with your child, figure out which of the smaller pictures represents a word that rhymes with the larger picture. Once your child knows what to do, you can put the cards in a basket along with some clothespins and your child can do this work independently.

Rhyming Bingo Game

Each player has a base card. Mix up the individual picture cards in a pile and take turns drawing from the pile to see who has the picture of a rhyming word on their base card. For example, if your child picks the mug, your child will see jug on the bingo card and can put a glass pebble or something else to mark it. Continue for as long as your child is interested or until everyone has filled in their bingo card.

Rhyming Words with Objects in a Bag

Once your child understands rhyming, you can try this fun, hands-on activity to offer your child practice with thinking of rhyming words. Gather a few common household objects such as a spoon, pen, sock, book, cup, ball, key and a toy car, and put them in a bag. Invite your child to take out one object from the bag, name it and think of a word that rhymes with that object. For example, if your child pulls out the key, he or she might come up with the words bee, tree and see.

BONUS: Rhyming Pairs of Words Activities with Parts of the Body

Here's a rhyming words activity that requires no materials! You'll say a word while pointing to a part on your body that rhymes with that word. Then say the rhyming pairs of words. For example, say "rips" and then point and say "lips" and comment on how those words rhyme. After you offer a few examples, then PAUSE after you say the first word so that your child can fill in the blank with the rhyming word.

  • rips, lips
  • rose, nose
  • deer, ear
  • bear, hair
  • sand, hand
  • pie, eye
  • crumb, thumb
  • peek, cheek
  • tree, knee
  • ship, hip

Quick Summary: Teaching Rhyming To Preschoolers

It's important to teach rhyming to preschoolers because it develops phonological awareness and can help with the early identification of children who may need additional support with learning to read.

To begin teaching rhyming to preschoolers, you'll first just want to exposure them to rhyming through conversation as well as songs, books, poems, and finger plays with rhyming words.

You can explain rhyming to preschoolers by saying two words that rhyme and then mention that you hear the same sound at the end of the words.

Then you can try some rhyming activities with pictures or objects to help preschoolers recognize and identify the rhyming words.

You'll know that a preschooler really understands rhyming when they can think of and say more words that rhyme with a word you say.

Related Article: Best Rhyming Words List For Fun Kindergarten Activities


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