What can you do if you've tried a beginning sounds activity to prepare your preschooler for learning letter sounds, and it's just not clicking yet?
Try some rhyming activities!
The ability to rhyme falls under the umbrella of pre-reading skills called phonological awareness.
Some children find it easier to identify rhyming words compared with isolating individual speech sounds (phonemes) as in beginning sounds games to develop phonemic awareness.
The focus of rhyming games is to help your child recognize the ending part of spoken words that sound the same, even if the spelling is different when the words are written.
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.
Hearing Words That Rhyme - Exposure to rhyming happens naturally when you read rhyming books and poems to your child, 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 child 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 child whether or not they rhyme.
Producing Words That Rhyme - You'll know that your child really understands rhyming when he or she can come up with more words that rhyme with a word you say.
Now I'll share lots of ideas and resources for teaching rhyming to preschoolers! It's important to play these rhyming games for only as long as your child is interested.
If you find that your child isn't understanding these rhyming games, then simply back up a bit and focus on rhyming books, songs and finger plays and create opportunities to model rhyming casually throughout the day.
If you've already started 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. 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.
You also can play "odd word out" or "what doesn't belong" rhyming games with rhyming pairs pictures.
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.
Which One Rhymes?
Lay out two 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.
Find the Rhyming Pairs Matching Game
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.
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.
This rhyming pairs matching activity is even easier if you have a base card along with individual pictures to make each rhyming word pair. You can use velcro dots if you want to make the pictures stick to the base card.
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.
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.
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.