Today I am sharing my thoughts on preschool rhyme activities as a pre-literacy tool. My youngest son is now 4 (time flies) and beginning to show signs of understanding how reading works. One way I can help him with reading readiness is to add rhyming games to our daily life. Plus, it's fun!
Why Add Rhyme Activities to Your Day?
Rhymes and rhyming games are a great pre-literacy activity because they help kids understand the phonetic parts of words. Think about those early readers in which a "cat sat on a mat". Children learn to read using basic phonological spelling patterns. If they already understand through listening how those patterns work, so much the better!
I'm not a literacy professional, just a disorganized, yet enthusiastic parent. It's a well-worn phrase, but parents truly are their kids' first teachers and biggest influences on literacy development. It's really easy to incorporate rhyming into your day with the kids and you don't need any special skills. An excellent side benefit of rhyming is that kids love it and it's a great way to chase the crankies away.
Think of rhymes as brain games for toddlers and preschoolers.
(This post contains affiliate links.)
6 Ideas for Rhyming Games:
Make Rhyming Simple and Random
Adding rhyming fun to everyday life is easy-peasy! And if my 4 year old was writing this he would add, "lemon-squeezy!" I like to add silly nonsense rhyming to my conversations with the kids. If it's time for dinner, I say we're having "pasta-basta!" If it's time to get dressed I say, "Let's put on your socksy-wocksy!" Almost always, he will chime in with his own version.
Spontaneously Recite Nursery Rhymes
Learn a few nursery rhymes by heart and recite them when performing mundane tasks. When I'm cooking at the stove, I love to say "Sausage in a pan, Sausage in a pan, Frizzle-Frazzle, Frizzle-Frazzle, Sausage in a Pan". When putting on shoes, the old standby "1, 2, Buckle My Shoe" is perfect. You can be silly with them, too. When my son is counting something and says, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5," I might call out, "I thought I caught a fish alive!" He will them finish the rhyme, "6, 7, 8, 9, 10, but I threw it back again!"
Fill in the Rhyme Blank
If you've read a rhyming picture book so many times that your child knows it my heart, read it aloud, leaving the last word unsaid so your child can fill in the blank. If this is too advanced for them, then you can emphasize rhyming words by using an extra-dramatic voice on the relevant rhyming words.
Turn a Rhyme Upside Down
You can subvert rhymes. The picture book, Rhyming Dust Bunnies is a perfect example of how this works. Start a string of rhyming words and include a mistake. For example, "red, ted, bed, grass." When I do this, my 4 year old usually shouts, "no, not "grass!" and then provides his own word to round it out.
Issue Rhyming Instructions
Include simple, 2 sentence rhymes when you need to take action with the kids. For example, if you are trying to get out the door, say "it's time to go, don't be slow!" Not only does this sneak in some literacy learning, but your kids might just listen to your instructions. (Always a bonus!) In fact, this morning when I did this, both kids made up rhymes during the entire walk to school.
Have a Rhyming Contest
Start out with any word and see how many rhyming words you can come up with. For extra giggles, allow invented words.
If you want to add in rhymes more formally into your curriculum, I love this rhyming pack from The Measured Mom.
I hope these ideas have inspired you to put a little rhyme in your preschooler's everyday life. Since I can not resist sharing books I love, here are three suggestions for some of my favorite rhyming books. (affiliate links below)
To take rhyming literacy a step further, read poetry with the kids. To make it simple for beginners, I put together a month long poetry reading challenge that is low stress and full of giggles.