A reader sent us this question about rhyming:

One of my students can't rhyme at all and I would like to find out how to help. Answers to these questions would be appreciated!

Although the recognition of this skill is one of the first ways that a child demonstrates phonological awareness, some children need additional, explicit instruction in conjunction with reading and listening to nursery rhymes, songs, and poetry.

On the Phonemic Awareness Activities Page we have a “Rhyming Groups Folder Template” in which I track my students’ progression. I recommend taking a look at this progression to figure out which category your student falls. It sounds like your student is unable to PRODUCE rhymes. What you need to determine next is if your student can HEAR them. Here are some of the activities I like to do for each category:

Can't Hear/Can't Produce Rhymes

  • Use pictures of 2-3 objects that rhyme. Have the student look at the pictures while you point and say, “This is a cat. This is a hat. This is a rat. Cat, hat, rat rhyme because they have the same ending. Listen to the sounds /a/ /t/ /at/.”
  • Use silly rhymes for the children to correct. I do this with items in the classroom that children can physically see. If they cannot come up with a rhyme, then I will tell them the answer. Example, “This is a chook” (book) or “Sit on your bear” (chair).
  • At the beginning of the year, I like to teach my kids the song, “Do You Know?” (Sung to the tune of “Muffin Man”). Write the song on a large chart paper and track the print as you sing. Sing the song several times, changing the one-syllable rhyming words to replace the words king and ring.

    Do you know two rhyming words, two rhyming words, two rhyming words?
    Oh, do you know two rhyming words? They sound a lot alike!
    King and ring are two rhyming words, two rhyming words, two rhyming words.
    King and ring are two rhyming words. They sound a lot alike!

    Can Hear/Can't Produce Rhymes

  • All of the above
  • Say nursery rhymes and leave out the rhyming words. Have the child fill in the next sound. Example, “Little Bo Peep has lost her _________!” Pause for a moment and whisper (or shout) the rhyme, “SHEEP!”
  • Make up silly rhyming names for your students. Example, “Kate the Great, Ted the Bed, & Scary Larry.”

    Can Hear/Can Produce Some Rhymes

  • All of the above
  • Alter nursery rhymes. Example, “Little Bo Peep has lost her jeep!”
  • Play ‘I Spy’. Example, “I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with cook” (book).

    Can Hear/Can Produce Rhymes Consistently

  • All of the above
  • Let your student(s) know that for the next five minutes, they must answer you with a rhyme. Example, Teacher: “What is your favorite color?” Student: “My favorite color is bright!” (white)

    I also like to use the following assessment at the beginning of the school year to assess and monitor my students. It can help you determine if your student can HEAR and/or PRODUCE rhymes.

    Phonological Awareness Assessment (Page 1)
    Phonological Awareness Assessment (Page 2)

    Being able to generate rhyming words can be difficult for some children, but with explicit instruction and a rhyme-rich environment, students can quickly master rhyming.

    NOTE: Not all words have many “real” rhyming words. I encourage my students to think of silly rhyming words. Not only does it make it fun but it alleviates the stress of generating a rhyming word AND thinking of a real word at the same time!

    Hope This Helps!

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