Teaching Rhyming Words

Lori Soard
Boy working on homework

For beginning readers, learning about rhyming words is an essential part of understanding how sounds blend together and words relate to one another. Rhyming is a fast way to expand your child's basic vocabulary. Using a variety of activities for teaching rhyming words makes learning entertaining and educational.

Teaching Rhymes

Building Word Families

The concept of word families helps the kids create a list of rhyming words. Start with a common ending that will produce several rhyming words, such as -eep, -at, -in or -un. On one index card, write the ending you are using. To help the kids build a word family using that particular ending, you'll need to make cards with beginning sounds on them. For example, the -eep ending works well with beginning sounds such as sh, sl, b or d so you would write each of these sounds on separate cards. You can create a set of all the letters of the alphabet, as well as blends and digraphs, to keep on hand. This makes it easy to pull out the necessary letters to correspond with each new ending for the word families. The kids add the beginning sound cards in front of the selected ending to create words. Writing down the words as they are created provides a reference for future practice.

Grouping Words

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. Laminating them makes the cards stand up to little hands. The cards work well for a rhyming game. Create three cards, two with words that rhyme and one with a word that doesn't rhyme. The child reads the cards and determines which word doesn't rhyme. Pictures of objects that rhyme offer an alternative for younger kids who cannot yet read.

Another option is a sorting game with rhyming words. For this game, you would provide 15 to 20 word cards from at least two different word families. So you might have five "at" words, five "ump" words and five "ing" words in the pile. The child sorts the cards into the word families to find the rhyming words.


Workbooks are not always ideal for younger learners because children that small often are not writing yet. However, good workbooks on rhyming will require a child to draw a simple line from one rhyming picture or word to another. This is excellent practice for both penmanship and for rhyming! Workbooks also make a great summer activity for those months when you might not be "schooling" but don't want newly budding reading skills to fall by the wayside.

Writing Poetry

Advanced learners can put their rhyming words to good use by writing their own poems. Simple limericks 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.

Clapping Games

Many children's rhymes and clapping games, similar to jump rope jingles, include rhyming words. Teaching the clapping sequence and cadence is a great way to engage kinesthetic learners and give emphasis to the rhyming words.


Many song lyrics rhyme, particularly in popular children's songs. Have children listen to their favorite tunes and pick out the rhyming words by raising their hands, clapping, or dancing along. Advanced learners may even write their own rhyming song lyrics.


Different types of coloring activities can relate to rhyming words. Pictures of three objects, for example, can include two that rhyme and one that does not, and children can color in the rhyming pictures. Matching pictures is another fun option that can include rhyming words, when children must match words that rhyme from different columns and color each pair the same.

Nursery Rhymes

A weekly nursery rhyme offers a chance to review the concept of rhyming words on a regular basis. A pocket chart works well to display the lines of the nursery rhyme for the week. Use sentence strips to write out each line, adding emphasis to the rhyming words by using a different color or writing them on a separate card. Another option is to leave the rhyming words out of the nursery rhyme. Cards with the correct words as well as other words that rhyme with them allow the kids to complete the nursery rhymes. Songs and poems offer a similar option to use in a homeschool setting.

Rhyming Games and Activities

Games in a homeschool setting provide an entertaining way to infuse educational concepts into the day. Varieties of games assist in teaching rhyming words.

Rhyming Cards

Try making your own game. Printout the interlocking puzzle pieces and with your child, try to match the rhyming pairs. If you need help downloading the printable, check out these helpful tips.

A fun extension of this activity is to play an "I spy" game. Just give your child a word and have him look around the house to try to find a word that rhymes. Intermediate age children may find this activity too easy. So for them, you can turn the puzzle pieces over. On the back, write their spelling words and a word that rhymes with it. This is a great strategy to help your children remember their spelling words.


Rhyming puzzles are a great way to practice rhyming. While they are all made slightly differently, generally, rhyming puzzles have a word on one half and a rhyming picture on the other. So for example, one side of the puzzle might say the word 'cat', while the other half has a picture of a bat. What's particularly nice about puzzles is that they are self-correcting so your child can do them on his/her own and still learn without your direct help.

Scavenger Hunt

A great activity for teaching rhyming words is a rhyme scavenger hunt. 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."

Pretend Play

Dialogue filled with rhyming words can be reinforced with a dress up activity, skit, or short play. This will allow children to get into the character role and show off their rhyming knowledge in a fun and exciting way. Another way to implement pretend time is through a puppet show. A puppet show can include rhyming words as part of the characters' dialogue. This can be a fun way to teach rhyming words to young children, and older children can create their own finger puppet stories and plays to share while they demonstrate their own mastery of rhymes.

Online Games

When you've exhausted other teaching approaches, but want to get in a little additional skill building, have your child play online games.

  • Gamequarium Jr. is an online learning site that provides easy to navigate games for kids to practice their reading skills.
  • Star Fall offers online reading games, including several rhyming games to build your child's reading ability.
  • Literactive is a free site that teaches reading using word families and intensive phonics. Combining quizzes, games and lots of fun, kids learn to read and rhyme.

Rhyming Books

Picture books with rhyming patterns are common on the shelves of the library and offer a fun way to introduce the concept of rhyming. As you read the book to your kids, emphasize the rhyming words. At the conclusion, mention that the book contains pairs of words that sound the same. After rereading the first line with rhyming words, ask your kids to identify the pair that sounds the same. Continue reading, asking them to listen for rhyming pairs. A stop sign cut from red card stock provides a fun way for them to let you know they hear a pair. When they hear two words that sound the same in the text, the stop sign goes up so you can identify the pair. Books that are full of rhyming words include:

Your local library can suggest more rhyming books that incorporate a certain topic or age level for your children.

Practice Keeps It Fresh

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.

Teaching Rhyming Words