"Mommy, do house and bouse rhyme?" chants your little one, tugging on your pant leg as you unload the dishwasher. Our kids are always bursting with questions, but this one, in particular, should be a big signal to us.
Playing with words and comparing how they sound shows that phonological awareness is blooming. Best of all, it's easy to nurture and grow.
When a child can listen for and make up rhymes, we know that she is listening to the ending sound of words and comparing those sounds with other words. This is a big developmental milestone in learning to read. Try these ideas to help your kids play with rhyme.
Have Fun with Nonsense Words
When kids are playing and experimenting with rhyme, it's not important that they generate real words. Nonsense words are perfectly acceptable. The whole point is that we want kids to listen and play with sounds. And, if a child generates an unknown word, introduce a little vocabulary practice with a chat like this:
"Yes, house and louse do rhyme. They both have the ouse sound at the end. Did you know that a louse is a type of insect?"
"Yes, house and kagouse do rhyme. Kagouse is a silly nonsense word, but it does rhyme with house. Can you think of another word that rhymes with house and kagouse?"
Read Books That Encourage Rhyme
Reading aloud is one of the reasons our kids start to notice rhyme. Here are a few favorite titles with conversation starters to help your child listen for and make up rhymes:
Book Pick: The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith — Say: "Do cranky and lanky rhyme? Do donkey and dog rhyme?"
Book Pick: Mighty Dads by Joan Holub — Say: "Listen as I read and see if you can hear the rhyming words. 'They keep them safe and bolted tight and show them how to build things right.' Which two words rhyme?"
Book Pick: Dog on a Frog? by Kes and Claire Gray — Say: "Let's make our own silly rhymes. Pigs sit on _____. Turkeys sit on ________. Daddy sits on_____."
Quick and Playful Rhyme Games
When kids are building their phonological awareness, we want all the language play to be done orally. Focus on listening and speaking. The print part comes later. Short, playful, and repetitive exercises are crucial for developing rhyming skills.
1. Can You Find
Ask your child to find an object in the room, but instead of naming the object, give him a word that rhymes with it instead. For example, "Bryce, can you find something in the room that rhymes with pouch? Yes, couch rhymes with pouch."
Your child may also find it fun to generate the question and have you find the object.
2. Fill the Bowl
Grab a small bowl and some dry cereal. Call out a word (start with simple three letter words such as rag, hen, and sun) and take turns generating rhyming words. For each rhyme, add a piece of cereal to the bowl. How full can you get the bowl? Count your bounty and enjoy a snack!
3. Two of a Kind
For this playful game, you will say three words. Two of them should rhyme. Your child will listen for the rhyming pair and call it out. For example, "Note, nail, boat — which two rhyme? Yes, 'note' and 'boat' rhyme. They both have the same sound at the end."
Try this activity on your next car ride. In no time at all, your child will be a wiz at identifying and generating rhymes.
Connect with Jodie at her site Growing Book by Book.