COMPOSING AND WRITING GROUP RHYMES encourages everything from cooperation to literacy skills. And at the core of it all is the art of listening. As children work together to create rhymes, they learn to listen for rhyming sounds and develop the capacity to listen to one another.

Inspire Some Cooperation

Maybe the best place to start is with some group rhymes that will inspire children to work together. You can use these to start a group rhyming activity or at times when children need to be reminded of the joy of working together:

Sing a Song of Children (Chant: "Sing a Song of Sixpence")

Sing a song of children

All working hand in hand

Listen to each other

Such a merry band.

When we work together

It's our favorite way

To cooperate means

We have a happy day!

Counting-Off Rhyme (Chant: "Sing a Song of Sixpence")

(Chant: "Sing a Song of Sixpence") 

It can take many helpers

To get all our big jobs done.

More than six or eight

Makes the classroom fun.


The more we work together

The happier we will be.

How many does it take?

Let's count off and see

1-2-3 ... and so on.

Once children are in a cooperative state of mind, they'll be ready to participate in any number of collaborative rhyming activities. Here are just a few:

Chime in With a Rhyme

"If I say rug, you say _____. How many words can we rhyme?" Invite children to say both make-believe and real words. They will be using phonemic-awareness skills in either case! Children have to listen for the ending sound and choose a new beginning sound to go with it. There is an excitement that builds as children "chime in" with a rhyming word. They listen carefully to one another and work together to keep this game going. Enjoy this game for quite some time before writing down any of the words. Eventually, you'll want to write the words on chart paper so children can see the similarities and differences between the words. Then they can also use the words to add to their own funny sentences ("The rug rolled on the bug and gave it a hug!"). Here are a few good starter words for this game: pig, stop, cake, rice, light, run.

Poetry in Five Easy Steps!

Five-line poetry, or cinquain, offers children an easy-to-follow structure for creating poetry together. In these "five-senses poems," children suggest an image for each of the senses. Here is an example of a five-step poem one group of kindergartners created together:

Smells like snow

Icy cold

Quiet taps and wet plops

Watching the falling flakes

Tastes good!

Invent a Nursery Rhyme

What can we do with a nursery rhyme? Make it our own! Children are marvelous inventors-and that is as true with words as with anything else. Why not ask children to work together to create their own rhyming inventions with familiar nursery rhymes? Just change the character in a rhyme to someone in the class, and add words that personalize it, too. For example, children can change the character in "Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary" to someone in the class with more positive traits. Or ask children to add new names to "Jack and Jill" and change the events.

Pass It Al Around!

Fill a pillowcase or bag with objects that rhyme. Use these for creating a group pass-along rhyming story game! Choose objects with rhyming names such as cat, hat, bat, rat, and mat. To play, just pull out an object and start the sentence. "The cat was looking out the window one day when..." Pass the bag to a child and ask him to remove another object and continue the story: "...when he saw a bat fly by!" Continue passing the bag until the group has created a story using all the rhyming objects. Later, ask children to brainstorm other words that rhyme with cat that could be added to the story. Write these on chart paper and ask children to use them to keep the story going.