How to Teach Rhyming in Kindergarten

Kindergarden teacher with students sitting in circle around her
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Rhyming is an important early reading skill. When kindergarten students can hear the rhyming sounds in words and produce rhyming words, they demonstrate phonemic awareness, which is essential for reading. Teachers use books, pictures, games and other activities to demonstrate and reinforce rhyming techniques. Children also learn rhyming by listening to songs that are easy and fun to remember.

Explain and demonstrate the concept. Tell your class that rhyming words sound alike at the end. The main way they will come to understand this is by hearing you give examples often. Say a word like "cat," then give several rhyming words like "rat," "hat" and "mat." It won't take long for most students to catch on and begin participating themselves.

Use a variety of texts. Read aloud to the class every day. Choose from nursery rhymes and other poems as well as children's books that are written in rhyme, such as the books of Dr. Seuss. Children enjoy hearing these stories and learn to hear predictable rhyming patterns as you read them.

Incorporate rhyming into other academic subjects. Kindergarten instruction focuses on reading and math. Use rhyming when teaching concepts like number writing. Make up rhymes associated with each number. For example, say, "Down and around getting ready to mix, that's the way we write a six".

Practice rhyming often with whole and small groups. Lead the class in brief rhyming activities every day. Make up nonsense words and have kids think of another word that rhymes, like "zake" and "yake." Five-year-olds enjoy being silly. Use similar games to work with small groups of students who are struggling to hear or produce rhyming sounds.

Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.