Home Speech-Language Pathology Encouraging Rhyming Skills

Encouraging Rhyming Skills

by Stephanie Sigal
written by

Purple and gold trees a la Dr. Seuss

Photo by twoblueday

(This post originally appeared on Say and Play)

Rhyming is an early phonological awareness (listening) skill children use to distinguish units of speech. Recognizing rhymes is crucial to reading development.

Understanding how we have syllables within words and the ability to discern phonemes (sounds) in syllables are also phonological awareness skills that facilitate literacy.

If you would like to encourage your child’s rhyming skills, here are some fun activities to practice:

Read rhyming books – Once your child is familiar with one of the books listed below (or similar level rhyming book), have her try to fill-in the rhyming word. For example, Dr. Seuss’ The Foot Book begins: Left foot, Left foot, Right foot, Right – Feet in the morning, Feet at _____ (child should say “night”). For a rhyming challenge, read an unfamiliar rhyming book with your child in the same manner.

I Love Trucks

Train Song



Silly Sally

Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb


Barnyard Dance

The Belly Book

Dr. Seuss
Begin with:
In a People House

Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!

The Foot Book

Hop On Pop

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Later, try:
The Cat in the Hat

Green Eggs and Ham

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street

I Am Not Going To Get Up Today

I Can Read With My Eyes Shut

The Pop-Up Mice of Mr. Brice

Song-themed rhyming books:

Down By the Bay

Five Little Ducks

The Lady with the Alligator Purse

Songs and Nursery Rhymes – Use the same technique – leave off the rhyming word to encourage your child to fill it in.  As a challenge, alter the rhymes (e.g., Twinkle Twinkle Little Car).

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
This Old Man
There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly
Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Itsy Bitsy Spider
I’m A Little Teapot
Open, Shut Them
We’re going to Kentucky (We’re going to the Fair…)

Sing popular children’s music together using the same technique:

Laurie Berkner

Dan Zanes


Share your favorite rhyming adult songs:

Beatles – Help, Love Me Do, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Can’t Buy Me Love, All My Loving, A Hard Day’s Night

The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me, Every Breath You Take, So Lonely, Can’t Stand Losing You, King of Pain

Motown – I Heard It Through The Grapevine, My Girl, Good Lovin’, Joy To The World, The Tracks Of My Tears, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, I Want You Back, ABC

Barenaked Ladies and James Taylor have many songs with rhyming lyrics.

60’s – Ruby Tuesday (Rolling Stones), If You Wanna Be Happy (Jimmy Soul)

70’s – Celebration (Kool & The Gang), We Are Family (Sister Sledge), I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor), Y.M.C.A. (VIllage People), Takin’ Care of Business (Bachman-Turner Overdrive),  50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (Paul Simon)

80’s –  Who Can It Be Now (Men At Work), 867-5309 / Jenny (Tommy Tutone), Mr. Roboto (STYX), Walking on Sunshine (Katrina and The Waves), Manic Monday (The Bangles)

90’s – Good Riddance / Time of Your Life (Green Day), Hairspray Soundtrack

Hip Hop is great for rhyming, but the lyrics are not always appropriate, try: Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It (Will Smith).

Play “I Spy” with rhymes – For example, “I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with bear!”

Try a rhyming puzzle.

Try a rhyming game with objects.

Most importantly, have fun with rhyming!!

What are some of your favorite rhyming activities?

Stephanie Sigal, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a speech language therapist practicing on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NYC. She works with babies, toddlers and school age children with expressive language delay and articulation disorders. Stephanie provides home based speech therapy and encourages parents to facilitate their children’s speech and language skills. To learn more about Stephanie, please visit http://www.sayandplayfamily.com.

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Lisa February 8, 2011 - 1:53 pm

We need to hear more about this strategy! It works great, however so often is overlooked by young therapists just starting out. Thanks for blogging about it and please continue to push it to the top of peoples minds.

trawicks February 9, 2011 - 1:31 pm

Rhyming is such an important part of any kind of language learning. Even something as seemingly complex as historical linguistics: many great discoveries of how people pronounced words in the past were made by analyzing rhyme schemes. And yet people still think of rhymes as something “childish!”

Linda February 15, 2011 - 1:56 pm

Thank you so much – I do alot of teaching toward developing an awareness of rhyming in my preschool phonology classes & encourage parents to do so as well. Your info will be a fantastic handout for my students’ parents !

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