Rhyming is an extremely difficult concept for Kindergarteners to comprehend. Some studies suggest that we cannot even teach children to rhyme; it might indeed be a developmental skill that just one day is supposed to click in their brains.
With that being said, we must give them a solid background knowledge of rhyming so that their brains will be open to understanding rhymes. How do we do this? We take time, often, to expose our students to rhyme. When we do this, we give them good examples of rhyming so they can begin to hear it well. Once we have trained our students' brains to hear the rhyme, they will then be more apt to start learning to create rhyme.
Throughout the year, I LOVE to talk about rhyme. I know it is hard for my students, so I really try to expose them to rhymes as much as possible. I do this in many ways, on most days. I do this because it is important that we expose our students to different ways of rhyming to get them to soak it in! When our students soak in rhyming, they don't just get better at making song lyrics or creating stories with similarly-ended words... When our kids can rhyme, they have a solid understanding of phonemic awareness skills that they can draw from when reading, writing and even speaking or singing!
When I introduce rhyming words, (with no surprise) I use a fun, engaging and entertaining video to show rhyming. Rhyme Time is a video form Hooked on Phonics that the kids really love. This video shows real-life images of rhyming words. Also, it has mini-summaries within the video that students can sing along with. The video is very cute and it shows many sets of rhyming words. At the end, the picture on the video is an orange; we (after a mini lesson) always talk about how orange is the only word without a rhyme!
When I first engage students with this lesson, I make sure to really explain everything to students. The following lesson is how I really USE this video to introduce and teach rhyming at the beginning of the school year!
I love to hang up this rhyme time poster for students to refer to as well!
I love to do rhyming throughout the year. Even when many of our students are able to HEAR rhymes all of the time, it still helps them to practice. Rhyming is fun for kids and it never gets old; I like to take advantage of that.
Here are the ways I frequently expose my students to rhymes:
I use nursery rhymes (usually in song form)!
On Mondays, I read a nursery rhyme two times. On Tuesdays, my students read the nursery rhyme chorally with me two times. On Wednesdays, my students read the nursery rhyme chorally and listen for the rhyming words. On Thursdays, my students read the nursery rhyme chorally and then find the rhymes- we make a chart of the rhyming words and hang it up (until the next week's chart is created). Here is a little bit about why I like using nursery rhymes appropriately to support learning!
I use word families when working on phonemic awareness and phonics skills.
I like to have students segment and blend words that are in the same word family. We call it "Initial sound deleting" when we change one CV ending into all different CVC words. We do this by changing at into mat, into cat, into rat, into sat, etc.
I provide rhyming puzzles.
Rhyming isn't a skill we always work on in centers, but rhyming puzzles are always available for extra practice. I leave 2-3 rhyming puzzles out all year for students to choose as a post-centers activity (if they are an early finisher).
I rhyme sometimes in my morning message.
As a follow up to my corrections during Morning Message time, sometimes, I will have students come up and find my rhyming words. They love this because they have to either really listen when we re-read the message, or they have to notice the repeated set of letters (on the endings of words).
Besides the daily practices I listed above, I also like to play a rhyming game. This game is very simple and it's short and sweet to play. It is a good brain break and can be done as often as I like. Personally, I call this game "Pass the Zebra," because, well, we pass a zebra around! However, it can be called anything! The premise is simple:
The students sit in a circle or square (around the carpet) and I lead the game. I say one word. Students will pass the zebra- when they get it, they must say a word that rhymes with the one I game them. If they cannot think of a word, then they have to sit out the next round. As the word choices dwindle, I will pick another word.
Here is an example of this game:
I will say, "Car."
A student will start with the zebra and say, "car." They will pass the zebra and the next person might say, "tar." They will pass the zebra and the next person might say, "far." They will pass the zebra and the next person might say, "star." At this point, I would pick another word, like "sat." Then, they would continue passing the zebra and the next person might say, "rat." And so on and so forth. Once we play it a couple of times, students can get the whole game finished in about 2 minutes. It is a fabulous review and it is fun. We play it all year!
There are so many things we can do to reinforce rhyming and phonological awareness skills. Whether it's a long or short process, we can do this daily without much effort; and, the kids love it!