Rhyme Activities and Tips

Reading, reciting and singing Mother Goose rhymes are an excellent way to help a preschooler get ready to read. When a child chants a rhyme repeatedly, he develops key pre-reading skills such as the ability to hear the distinct sounds that make up words, discern sound and word patterns and broaden his vocabulary. Studies have shown that the more nursery rhymes a child knows, the easier it will be for him to learn to read. So find opportunities to sing and read Mother Goose rhymes with your child and try one of our fun rhyme activities below.

Activity 1: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Ity Bitsy Spider

In this fun activity, you and your child can sing and act out the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" song, using pictures and motions.

Materials:

Paper and crayons
3 popsicle sticks or 3 paper towel/toilet paper rolls

Directions:

Getting Ready

  1. Listen to and sing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" with your child:
    The itsy bitsy spider
    Went up the water spout.
    Down came the rain and
    Washed the spider out.
    Out came the sun and
    Dried up all the rain.
    And the itsy bitsy spider
    Went up the spout again.
  2. Work with your child to create images of a small spider, rain and the sun. Once you have drawn the images, write the word "spider," "rain," or "sun" under the corresponding picture.
  3. Cut out each image and corresponding word and glue the paper to a popsicle stick or empty paper towel or toilet paper roll.

Playing the Game:

Sing the song with your child. Each time you mention one of the bolded words, lift up the corresponding image.

The itsy bitsy spider
Went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and
Washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and
Dried up all the rain.
And the itsy bitsy spider
Went up the spout again.

Other ways to have fun with the song:

  • Tape the images on the wall, a few feet away from one another. Sing the song, while your child listens for words that relate to the pictures. When you say one of the words in the pictures, your child should stand by that picture.
  • Try doing the motions that the kids do on the video and then brainstorm with your child to create your own motions to do as you sing the song.

Activity 2: Three Bags Full

Baa Baa Baa Sheep

In this activity, based on the rhyme, "Baa, Baa, Baa Sheep," you and your child place different objects in bags and create fun rhymes for them.

Materials:

3 bags (cloth bags or other bags that you cannot see through)
Items to put in the bag (boxes, blocks, toys, Lincoln Logs, etc.)

Directions:

  1. Work with your child to find an item that you have multiples of to place in each bag (toys, balls, Lincoln Logs, boxes, blocks, etc.).
  2. Select and place items from one category (for example, toys) in one bag. Place at least two items from this category into the 1st bag. Repeat this for the 2nd and 3rd bags, selecting a different category for each bag (for example, Lincoln Logs, boxes, blocks, etc.) After filling each bag, close it or fold over the top, so that the objects cannot be seen.
  3. Then sing the rhyme below, filling in the blanks with the name of your child, yourself and/or other familiar names:
    Baa, baa, black sheep,
    Have you any wool?
    Yes sir, yes sir,
    Three bags full.
    One for _______,
    One for the Dame,
    One for _______
    Who lives down the lane.
    Baa, baa, black sheep,
    Have you any wool?
    Yes sir, yes sir,
    Three bags full.
  4. After singing the rhyme with your child, open one of the bags and say:
    "Hey, that's not wool. Those are blocks, which sound like rocks." (Shake bag.)
    Rhyming Tip: Work with your child to create rhyming sentences like the one above for this activity. For example, say, "Those are blocks, which sound like _______." Pause after the phrase "sounds like" to let your child think of a rhyming word. The word doesn't need to make sense in the sentence, as long as it rhymes. For example, you could say, those are blocks, which sound like rocks, socks, smocks, locks, etc.
  5. Repeat the rhyme two more times. After each time, open another bag and say a rhyme, using the name of the object in the rhyme. Here are some possibilities:
    Hey, that's not wool. Those are toys, which make a lot of noise.
    Wait a minute, that's not wool. Those are boxes for the foxes.
    Hold on, that's not wool. Those are logs, for the frogs.
    Note: Feel free to use the sample sentences provided above or create your own rhyming sentences by inserting the name of the type of object that you have selected and a rhyming word.

Activity 3 : Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around

Teddy Bear

In this fun, rhyming version of the game "Simon Says," the leader gives instructions (in rhyme) of what the "teddy bear" should do. This activity can be played with one child or many children.

Directions:

  1. Start off as the leader and tell your child:
    Teddy bear, Teddy Bear, turn around
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground.
    Instruct your child to act out the motions, as you say them (if there are several children, they can all play the role of "Teddy Bear").
  2. Continue with other rhyming pairs. For example:
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, jump up high.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the sky.

    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, bend down low.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch your toes.

    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn off the light.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say "good night."
  3. Create new rhymes and actions. Work with your child to come up with new "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear" rhyming pairs. Here are some examples:
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say "hello."
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the snow.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch your toes.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, wiggle your nose.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, wave goodbye.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, don't you cry.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch a tree.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say "yippee."
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, play with toys.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, make some noise.
  4. Continue saying the different rhyming pairs in random order.
    For example, say: "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground."
    Then say: "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn off the light.
    Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say "good night."
  5. Pause before each rhyming word to encourage your child to say the rhyming words with you. For example, "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, wave goodbye, Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, don't you _______. Note: If your child doesn't know the word, say the rhyming word after pausing.

Follow up activity:

  • Brainstorm new Teddy Bear rhymes to do with your child.
    • For children just learning to rhyme, help lead them to the word. For example, Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, wave goodbye, Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Don't you _______. Note: Accept any word that rhymes (cry, try, buy, sigh, etc.) even if it is not the word you were thinking of. If your child is having trouble coming up with a rhyming word, provide some motions (for example, pretend crying) to prompt them to say a particular word.
    • For advanced rhymers: Provide one sentence, for example, "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch a tree" and then ask your child to come up with a rhyming sentence. Then switch roles and ask your child to say a line that starts with "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear" and then you respond by creating a rhyming line for it that also begins with "Teddy, Bear, Teddy Bear."
      Note: It is fine if some of the lines are nonsensical, as long as they rhyme with their paired line. For example, Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, go to the zoo. Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Diddly-Doo

Activity 4 : The Mouse Ran Up the Clock

Hickory Dickory Dock

In this fun game, based on the rhyme, "Hickory Dickory Dock," children act out the rhyme by playing the part of the mouse. Children also have fun thinking of additional verses for the rhyme.

Materials:

Materials to create the shape of a clock (See Creating a Clock for suggestions.)
Mouse ears or tail (optional)

Directions:

Getting ready:

  1. Create an image of a big clock. (See Creating a Clock for suggestions.)
  2. Create mouse ears and a tail (optional). Here are some easy ways to do this:
    • Mouse ears: Cut out two pieces of gray felt. Attach each piece to a thick piece of yarn. Tie the yarn to a hairband, spacing the pieces of felt apart, so that they look like ears.
    • Mouse tail: Stuff a sock with paper or other socks. Tie a small piece of yarn around the open end of the sock to close it. Take a long piece of yarn and tie it around the sock and then around your child's waist, like a belt. If your child is wearing clothing with belt buckles, tie the tail to the belt buckles.

Playing the game:

  1. Ask your child and other players to become "mice," by putting on mouse ears and tails. Begin singing the first verse of "Hickory Dickory Dock" together:
    Hickory Dickory Dock.
    The mouse ran up the clock.
    The clock struck one,
    The mouse ran down.
    Hickory Dickory Dock.
  2. When you sing "The mouse ran up the clock," instruct the "mice" to run up the clock (from 6 to 12). When you sing "The clock struck one," "the mice" should run over to the number 1 on the clock and when you say, "The mouse ran down," all the mice should run down (toward 6) and then off the clock.
  3. Begin singing the 2nd verse with your child:
    Hickory Dickory Dock.
    The mouse ran up the clock.
    The clock struck two,
    And down he flew.
    Hickory Dickory Dock.
    As you sing this verse, ask the "mice" to run "up the clock" when you say "ran up the clock," and to run to the number 2 when you say "The clock struck two." Ask the "mice" to pretend to "fly" off the clock when you say, "and down he flew." Repeat verses 1 and 2 a few times.
  4. Brainstorm with your children words for more verses. If possible, make the verses rhyme. Here is an example:
    Hickory Dickory Dock.
    The mouse ran up the clock.
    The clock struck three,
    And he ran to a tree.
    Hickory Dickory Dock.

    Try these verses too or create your own:
    The clock struck four, and he rolled on the floor.
    The clock struck five, and he went for a drive.
    The clock struck six, and he did some leg kicks.
    The clock struck seven, and he counted to eleven.
    The clock struck nine, and he walked along a line.
    The clock struck ten, and he clucked like a hen.
    The clock struck eleven, and he reached up to heaven.
    The clock struck twelve, and he pointed to the shelves.
  5. After you have created several verses, sing them, while the "mice" run up the clock, run over to the designated times and then run off the clock. Ask your children to vary how they come off the clock, based on the words in the verse. For example, after the clock strikes ten, they should run off clucking like hens.
  6. Optional: After your have acted out the verses in order (from 1 to 12) a few times, say the verses in random order. For example, start with one, then 5, then 2, then 7, etc. while the "mice" run to the corresponding times on the clock and do the corresponding actions.

Creating a Clock:

Here are some suggestions of how to create a clock for this game:

  1. Draw a big clock on a large sheet of paper. Put numbers for the hours 1-12 along the clock face, along with corresponding tick marks.
  2. Use a circular mat or rug. Place pieces of paper numbered 1-12 along the outside of the circle in clockwise order.
  3. Place 12 small chairs in a circle to form a clock. Tape numbers in clockwise order on each chair.
  4. Take a large piece of yarn and tape it to the ground in the shape of a circle. Tape sheets of paper with numbers on them from 1-12 to create the hours on the clock.
  5. If playing with 13 or more children, have 12 children form a circle. Give each a number (in clockwise order) from 1-1Have the remaining children play the parts of mice.
  6. If playing outside, draw a big clock on the ground with chalk. Mark off each hour with a tick mark and a corresponding number.

Activity 5 : One, Two, Buckle My Shoe

One, two, buckle my shoe

In this game, children have fun acting out the rhyme "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe" and creating additional verses.

Materials:

Pencil and paper to write down ideas for new words

Directions:

  1. Say the rhyme "One, two, buckle my shoe" with your children:
    One, two, buckle my shoe.
    Three, four, open the door.
    Five, six, pick up sticks.
    Seven, eight, lay them straight.
    Nine, ten, do it again!

    One, two, buckle my shoe.
    Three, four, open the door.
    Five, six, pick up sticks.
    Seven, eight, lay them straight.
    Nine, ten, a big fat hen.
  2. Brainstorm with your children actions you can do for each sentence (buckle my shoe, open the door, etc.).
  3. Practice doing the rhyme several times with the actions for each line.
    Tip: If you have a lot of children, assign one line to each child or small group and ask them to make up the motions for their line. Ask each group to teach their motion to the rest of the children. Repeat the rhyme a few times, using everyone's actions.

Optional follow-up activity:

  1. Work with your children to come up with words that rhyme with the numbers two, four, six, eight and ten. Here are some examples:
    One, two, let's say "Boo."
    Three, four, sit on the floor.
    Five, six, start to mix.
    Seven, eight, don't be late.
    Nine, ten, cluck like a hen.
  2. Brainstorm actions to do for the new phrases. Repeat the rhyme several times with the new words and actions.

Ten Easy Tips for Rhyming with Preschoolers

Young children enjoy exploring language and learning new words. They often like to listen to and make up rhymes. In addition to being a fun activity, rhyming can help reinforce and expand upon children's existing vocabulary and strengthen their general literacy skills. Here are 10 easy tips to encourage rhyme in your daily activities:

1. Point out rhymes that you or your children say during the day.

If you or your child accidentally makes a rhyme, repeat the rhyme (for example, it's almost eight, it's getting late) and celebrate the fact that you or your child has made a rhyme. Repeat the rhyming words (eight and late) and tell your child that these words rhyme. If your child made the rhyme, congratulate him/her for making a rhyme.

2. Create rhymes with common words.

Look for opportunities to make rhymes with words that your child knows. For example, if you are sweeping with a broom when your child is in the room, say, "I am sweeping the room with a broom." Then say, "Hey, that rhymes - sweeping the ROOM with a BROOM," making sure to emphasize the rhyming words.

3. Point out rhymes in books and songs.

Read rhyming books and sing rhyming songs with your child. Emphasize the rhyming words that you find along the way.

4. Read and recite traditional rhymes together.

Read different Mother Goose nursery rhymes and other rhyming poems together. If there are rhymes that your child enjoys, reread them and then recite them. Once your child is familiar with a particular rhyme, prompt your child to say some of the rhyming words by pausing before making a rhyme. For example, if you are reciting the "Itsy Bitsy Spider," say, "The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider _____." Pause before you say the word "out" to prompt your child to say it.

Eventually, as your child becomes more familiar with the rhyme, you can pause before all the rhyming words and get your child to say them. For example, "The itsy bitsy spider went up the _____. Down came the rain and washed the spider _____."

Tip: As you prompt your child to say the rhymes, make sure to avoid making it feel like a quiz. If your child is having trouble remembering the rhyming words, emphasize the main rhyming words as you say them. After each rhyming pair, repeat the two main rhyming words, such as spout and out.

5. Come up with new rhyming words for common rhymes.

Once your child has become familiar with some traditional rhymes, have fun with the rhymes, by trying to come up with new rhyming words. For example, instead of "one, two, buckle my shoe," say "one, two, let's say moo."

6. Play verbal ping pong.

Whenever possible, try to play rhyming games with your child. One easy way to do this is to play verbal "ping pong," which involves taking turns with your child to think of rhyming words. For example, start with a word like "cat." Then ask your child to think of a word that rhymes (such as hat, bat, mat, pat, rat, or sat). Then you come up with another word. Keep going back and forth for a few times. Then think of another word to rhyme with. Here are some ideas for words to start with:

  • Sit (bit, fit, hit, kit, lit, mit)
  • Top (mop, hop, flop, bop, cop)
  • Lap (map, cap, tap, rap)
  • Man (can, tan, ran, fan)

Tips for children learning to rhyme:

  • Play the game with your child and work together (rather than taking turns) to come up with the rhyming words.
  • You can help your child come up with the rhyming words, by giving clues. For example, if you start with cat and want to help your child think of the word hat say "I'm thinking of something you wear on your head that sounds like cat." If your child can't think of the word then say, "It starts with the /h/ sound - h---at." Repeat that a few times saying the sounds separately "h---at," to see if your child can get the word. If not, then say the word "hat." Then repeat the words "cat" and "hat," emphasizing the "at" sounds to point out the rhyme.
  • Congratulate your child when he or she thinks of rhyming words. It is fine if the words are not real words, as long as they rhyme. For example, when thinking of rhyming words for "sit," if your child says "yit," that is great. For this game, the important thing is to listen for and create words that sound alike.

7. Pass a ball and say a rhyme.

Say a word, like "fish." Then pass the ball to your child. Your child then says a word that rhymes with fish (dish, wish) and then passes the ball back to you. You then say another rhyming word. After passing the ball back and forth a few times, brainstorm with your child to think of another word (for example, sit) and then pass the ball back and forth saying a rhyme before each pass.

8. Go on a rhyming scavenger hunt.

Pick a word with which your child is familiar (for example, "book"). Write the word down on a piece of paper, with a picture or drawing of that object. Carry the word with you when you and your child go out (to the park, store, library, etc.) and see how many words you see or hear during the day that rhyme with your word. As you find words that rhyme, point to them and say the word with your child. For example, "cook," "look," "took."

9. Make silly rhyming sentences.

Have fun rhyming with your child. Brainstorm with your child rhyming words that you can combine in a silly way to make a funny nonsensical sentence. Work together to create silly sentences. Then take turns trying to come up with the silliest sentence. Here are some examples:

The pie in the sky did fly with a tie.
The shoe in the stew started to Moo in blue.
The bat with the hat, sat on the fat rat.

10. Make a rhyme-time book.

Pick a familiar word, like "hat" and work with your child to think of several words that rhyme with it (cat, mat, rat, etc.). Say each word out loud with your child and write each word on a separate piece of paper. Work with your child to paste or draw a picture for each word. Attach the pages together to make a rhyming book. You can also take rhyming words and put them and corresponding pictures onto a poster board or construction paper to make a "rhyming poster." Hang some rhyming words and pictures from a hanger with string to create a "rhyme mobile" to hang in your home.



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