How to Teach Rhyming Words in Simple Ways

Grandparents playing with their grandchild

Teaching rhyming and learning about rhyming words can be fun for adults and kids. Rhyming is a fast way to expand your child's basic vocabulary and help them learn about blending sounds or word families. Use a variety of simple activities to make rhyming lessons exciting and engaging.

Basic Techniques for Teaching Rhyme

Teaching rhyming words is a standard part of most methods for teaching reading. As kids learn letter sounds and phonics, learning rhyming words can help them recognize letter patterns in the English language. Even kids who can't read or write yet can learn about rhyming words by speaking them. Kids learn about rhymes through three basic techniques that are best taught in order, but don't have to be.

Listen and Learn Rhyming

Kids learn a lot from listening to others speak. Try to talk in rhyme often during this phase of lessons. When you do make a rhyme, point it out to your child and have them repeat it. Activities like listening to nursery rhymes and listening to rhyming books read aloud by an adult are two of the simplest ways to start teaching rhyming words.

Read and Recognize Rhymes

As kids learn to read basic words, they can look at rhyming words to see where some letters match. Materials like flash cards and worksheets are great tools during this phase of learning. The idea is to get kids looking at words and recognizing them as rhymes because of how they're spelled and said.

Think and Talk in Rhymes

Many kids can say rhyming words before they ever know what a rhyme is. Rhyming words are often fun to say, so kids like to use them. With this technique, kids need to think of a word that rhymes with something specific, then say it out loud. Interactive rhyming games are great for learning rhymes through thinking and talking.

Simple Rhyme Activities

Rhyming word lists and activities using rhyming words should be simple and fun to help kids build confidence in this new skill. You can use basic items from around the house or just talk about rhymes to teach rhyming words.

Build Word Families

The concept of word families helps kids see how rhyming words relate to each other. Introduce one rhyming word family at a time such as those ending in -at, -eep, -in, or -un.

  • Use letter tiles to build rhyming words from the same family by placing the letters for the ending sound in a row, then stacking beginning letters to make different words.
  • Write common beginning letters and sounds on small building blocks and ending sounds on longer blocks, then let kids literally build rhyming words.
  • Use printable word family worksheets that ask kids to identify rhyming words from the same word family.
Reading homework words with mummy

Make Rhyme Word Flash Cards

Word cards provide a simple teaching tool for many educational concepts, including rhyming. You can make your own by writing words on index cards, with one word per card.

  • For kids who can't read yet, do the activity with them or create flash cards featuring pictures of rhyming words.
  • Lay down three cards, two that rhyme and one that doesn't, and ask your child to find the card that doesn't rhyme.
  • Create cards for two or more different word families and ask your child to sort them into proper rhyming word families.
  • Create sets of cards for different rhyme families and pull out one from each family deck. Hang the rest of the cards around the house and send your kid to find a rhyme for each card you hold up.

Write Your Own Rhymes

Advanced learners can put their rhyming words to good use by writing their own poems or rhyming short stories. Simple limerick poems for children are one of the most popular and easiest forms to start with, then students can progress to more unique types of poetry as part of a writing and literature unit. You can help your child write short funny rhyming poems or challenge them to write their own.

Play a Clapping Rhyme Game

Teaching the clapping sequence and cadence is a great way to engage kinesthetic learners and give emphasis to the rhyming words.

  1. Choose two or more rhyming word families to start with and assign a different sound to each one. For example, -at words might get one clap while -in words get one stomp.
  2. Say a sequence of words clapping and stomping as you say them.
  3. Kids can join in, create their own sequences, or you can ask them to remember your sequence and copy it.
    Girls clap and chant on a school bus ride

Play Musical Rhyme Tag

Many song lyrics often rhyme, particularly in popular children's songs.

  1. Play some fun children's songs you know feature rhyming words and dance around the room.
  2. Whenever your child hears a rhyme, they tag you.
  3. When you hear a rhyme, you tag them.
  4. Take turns tagging each other until the song is over.
Man playing piano from a book Baa Baa Black Sheep

Create Nursery Rhyme Mad Lib Style Stories

Mad Lib style stories are fun because they always end up sounding really funny.

  1. Write down a Mother Goose nursery rhyme in pencil.
  2. Go through the story and circle all the rhyming words.
  3. Start with the first rhyme word and ask your child to come up with a word that rhymes with it.
  4. Erase the original nursery rhyme word and write in your child's word.
  5. Complete Steps 3 and 4 for all rhyming words.
  6. Read the updated version of the nursery rhyme.

Read Rhyming Books

Picture books with rhyming patterns are common on library shelves and offer a fun way to introduce the concept of rhyming. There are several ways you can make reading rhymes a great learning experience depending on your child's reading level.

  • As you read the book to your kids, emphasize the rhyming words by changing the sound, tone, or volume of your voice.
  • If the entire book rhymes, or even just the lines on the page spread, cover up the last rhyme and ask your child to guess what word it might be.
  • Give your child a paper or toy stop sign to hold up whenever they hear a rhyming pair.
  • After identifying a rhyming pair, stop reading and brainstorm all the other rhyming words you can think of for that pair.
Father and son reading book while sitting on couch

Go On a Rhyme Scavenger Hunt

A great activity for teaching rhyming words is a rhyme scavenger hunt. You can do the hunt together or have your child do it independently. You can do scavenger hunts at home, around town, or even on trips.

  • Give children a list of words, and they have to collect objects that rhyme with each one, such as finding a book to rhyme with the word "look" on their list, or a toy truck to rhyme with "stuck."
  • Write scavenger hunt riddles for kids that rhyme and use them in a treasure hunt.
  • Before you head out on a shopping trip, give your child a word to remember, like "hum." If they can find something at the store that rhymes with that word, like gum, they get it as a prize.

Complete Rhyming Puzzles

Print out a free, printable matching game like this Rhyme Puzzle Matching game. Each mini puzzle features two pieces and the image on each piece rhymes with the image on the other. If you need help downloading the printable, check out these helpful tips.

Rhyming Puzzle Game
Rhyme Puzzle Matching Card Game

Turn School Time Into Rhyme Time

Teaching rhyming words at a young age builds pre-reading skills that help kids decode words in context. These simple rhyming activities fit easily into the day when you have a few spare minutes or as a warm-up exercise. Practice the concept periodically to keep it fresh in the minds of the kids.

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How to Teach Rhyming Words in Simple Ways