In this blog post, I am going to share some quick and easy rhyming activities to do with kindergarten and first-grade students to help promote their phonological awareness.
First, I should mention that rhyming is a phonological awareness skill. Phonological awareness is a meta-cognitive skill and in this case, students are listening to different words to see if they can identify if the words rhyme. When practicing rhyming, we want students to be able to identify (yes or no) if two words rhyme and we also want students to be able to generate their own rhyming words.
I also want to mention that there is no downside when it comes to teaching rhyming to our students. It will benefit students greatly in their readiness to read and it will develop their phonological awareness. That being said, if a student struggles with rhyming, that is not an indicator that they will struggle with reading. So there shouldn’t be an over-emphasis on having students master rhyming before teaching students other phonological and phonemic awareness skills!
Before I dive into the rhyming activities, I want to let you know that if you want to watch/listen to all this same content, you can do so by watching my YouTube video below:
To continue reading about the activities instead, just keep scrolling!
Activity 1: Use Rhyming Picture Cards
The first easy easy way to have students practice identifying rhymes is by using some rhyming picture cards like the ones below.
With these cards, there are a few ways I like to use them. First, is a game called Mix and Match. To play this game, students would simply each receive one picture card and they need to first identify what word is being shown with the clip art. Then, everyone stands up and mixes around the room trying to find their match. In this case, their match would be the word that rhymes with their card!
Secondly, I like to have students play Memory! I am pretty sure everyone knows how to play memory, but if you happen to be teaching virtually, I actually shared a free digital memory game that makes it easy to plug in different words and pictures into a template. You can grab that below:
If you’re playing in person, simply have students cut out and flip over each card. Then, they would take turns flipping two cards at a time, saying the word aloud and identifying if it rhymes! If it does, they keep the pair of cards and pick again. If they don’t rhyme, students put the cards back in the same spot and the other player takes a turn. Continue playing until all cards are removed. Whoever collected the most pairs, wins!
Lastly, I also use the cards by cutting them up and putting them in a bag, and mix them all up. In a small group, I like to either have students go around and take turns pulling out two cards, saying them aloud, and identifying if the two words rhyme. Or, I will have one student be “the picker” and they would choose 2 cards from the bag, say them aloud, and then the other students in the group would have to give either a thumbs up (yes, the words rhyme) or a thumbs down (no, they don’t rhyme). I like that last option because it involves everyone in the small group at one time!
Activity 2: Read poems and nursery rhymes often
It is important for students to hear rhymes within text often and repeatedly in your kindergarten and first grade classroom! Not only would I read rhyming texts aloud often, but in my classroom, we also had poetry folders. Whenever we would introduce a new poem, students would listen to me read it aloud, they would echo read it, they would choral read it, they would partner read it, they would whisper read it. You get it. By the end of the week, students would’ve read the rhyming poem 5-6 different times and would get to hear and read the rhymes.
I would always use my phonics poems and while the main skill of them poems were to identify the phonics patterns, my poems always rhymed. And more often than not, the rhyming words were the ones with the phonics pattern in them. Here is an example of a phonics poem you can grab for FREE in the preview of the product:
You can incorporate any poems or rhyming books you enjoy in your classroom so students get used to listening to and reading rhymes! One of my favorite rhyming books is Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andrae. I like to choose one or two pages from the book and copy it over onto chart paper for us to read, re-read, and identify the rhyming words in the story! As students listen to the passage being read aloud, they can clap or jump or snap when they hear the rhyming words. I also like to cover up some of the rhyming words when we’ve read the passage at least once already. This way, when we read it aloud students can generate that missing rhyming word. Some will be doing it from memory, but others will also recognize that it needs to rhyme with the previous word so it gets them thinking about what words could fit that description! You could also photo-copy the pages from the book for your students to highlight the rhyming words on their own.
Activity 3: Discrimination activities
With this type of activity, students won’t just listen to 2 words. Instead, they will listen to 3 different words and they will need to identify which 2 rhyme. This can be trickier for your students. I like to do this because often teachers will say “two words rhyme if they have the same ending” which can be confusing. To help students with this, I would choose 2 words with the same ending letter and write them on the board.
For example, cat, mat, part
When students look at the words, they can notice that all 3 words end in /t/, but only two of them rhyme and have that same ending sound of /at/. You can do this with any three words (top, mop, clap). Once students go ahead and find which word doesn’t belong, I like to have students then generate a new word that rhymes with the “misfit.”
So there are 3 fun rhyming activities you can do with your students to help them with their phonological awareness! I also went ahead and made a video with some phonemic awareness and phonics activities that you may enjoy. You can find that here: Phonemic Awareness Activities for a K-2 Classroom
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