phonemic awareness · teaching thoughts

Why Can’t my Child Rhyme?

Rhyming is such an important step in phonemic awareness. What is phonemic awareness you ask? Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate letter sounds in spoken words. It is the hearing part of reading! When children are able to hear, manipulate and isolate letter sounds, they are able to utilize this skill in decoding and encoding words for reading and writing.

So why rhyming? Rhyming is the ability to switch out the beginning sound of a word to make a new word. That it! Ok so why is it so hard for some children?

Did you know there are actually 5 stages of learning to rhyme! Say What???? You read that correctly. Your child needs to develop through five levels before they are proficient at rhyming independently.

Step 1- rhyme exposure— this is the understanding of the word rhyme. Children need to be exposed to words that rhyme and be taught the context behind the word rhyme. So when you read books, sing songs and recite nursery rhymes with your child, state things such as “hey wall and ball rhyme” “/w/- all and /b/- all rhyme because they both end in -all”

Step 2- rhyme recognition– this is being able to determine if two words rhyme. Children need to listen to two words and be able to tell you if they rhyme or not. Provide pair of words tree/key, car/bike, blue/glue, man/money etc… Have your child give a thumbs up if they rhyme and a thumbs down if they don’t. Often times children will struggle when the two words begin with the same beginning sound, point out the ends of the words are different and that is where we focus on rhymes.

Step 3- rhyme judgement– in this step you will provide your child with 3 words and have your child pick out the pair that rhymes. This works on recall as well. Stating night/moon/light your child would need to say night and light rhyme. In class I encourage children to say night and light rhyme because they both end in -ight. This shows they understand the focus on the rime of the word.

Step 4- rhyme completion– in this step your child will complete a sentence or line from a poem or song with the correct ending rhyme. Begin with using familiar song and stories and then move onto unfamiliar materials. I want to go out and play, because it is a sunny ____. DAY play and day rhyme. Check out this activity I shared called rhyme away for another fun activity on this step.

Step 5- rhyme production– this is the step of independence! this is your child producing sets of rhyming words on their own. I often go back to step 2 and have the child be the one in charge. Have your child give you sets of words and you determine if they rhyme or not. Then move on and have your child tell you a list of three words with a pair of rhymes. Finally have him/her give you rhyme completion sentences (this step is hard and not needed to master rhyming)

Yay! Your child has now mastered rhyming. Time to move onto the next skill… but do not forget to come back and practice rhyming. When you stop working and reviewing skills it makes it harder for your child to remember the skill when needed.

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phonemic awareness · story

Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Farm

Today let’s read the story Mrs. Wishy-Washy’s Farm by Joy Cowley. When the farm animals do not want another bath, they decide to leave the farm. They travel from the farm to the city. This is a great rhyming story.

Can you find the rhymes in the story? Practice listening for rhymes (you say two words and your child says if they rhyme or not). Creating rhymes (you say a word and your child says a word that rhymes). Do these with your child leading too… when your child is able to create their own rhyming pairs and understands the difference between words that rhyme and don’t they are mastering one of the phonemic awareness skills needed for reading development. Want to read more about rhyming? Click here, here, or here.

Mrs. Wishy-Washy loved to give her animals a good scrub. Let your child rub and scrub some of their toys today. Fill up the sink or a bucket in the backyard and let your child wash their toys. This encourages sensory play which is important for development.

Sensory play is any play the stimulates the senses. Allowing children to play with textures- hard, soft, wet, dry, sticky, smooth, bumpy etc encourage and allows for acceptance of these various textures in other aspects of life. The use of sensory play is soothing for children who are anxious or frustrated. This play also helps develop and connect brain pathways that are needed in more complex learning. Want to read more? Check out this article Why Sensory Play is Important for Development by Educational Playcare

phonemic awareness · story

Nursery Rhymes

Nursery Rhymes are short poems/songs that children have learned for years and years. These are still important to learn today. They allow children to play with words. Also, by reading these simple rhymes in story book form, we encourage the connection between the text and spoken word. The goal is for children to recognize that they can tell the story. While we do not want children to believe that the way to read is to memorize all the words, we do want them to make the connection between what is said and what is written. We do want them to view themselves as readers. We do what them to gain the confidence that they can and will read books. So… provide your child with books they love. Provide your child with books they know. And read, read and read some more.

Here are links to nursery rhyme books read aloud:

family activity · story · teaching thoughts

Laundry Time

Did you know that even laundry time can be a learning opportunity? Have your child help you with the laundry, especially his/her own laundry. First let’s read Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash by Sarah Weeks. Now I’m sure you are not going to wash and hang up some of the crazy things Mrs McNosh washes and hangs up in her story, but it is a jumping off point.

Have your child draw a picture of rhyming things (s)he could hang up with Mrs. McNosh.

Have your child collect the laundry from around the house and help bring it to the washing machine (pushing a full laundry basket is great “heavy work” for young children). They can also help put the clothing into the machines.

When the laundry is done, they can help sort the clothes (put the shirts in this pile, the pants in that pile or put your clothes here and your brother’s there). Matching and rolling socks. Then help them put away their own clothes.

If you have clothes pins, these are great for fine motor practice. Your child can use them to pick up pompoms, beads, or other small items. Clip together pictures that match. Pop bubble wrap or so many other learning opportunities while working those fine motor skills.

Ok… let’s get to the laundry!

game · phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Thursday- Rhyming

I have found over the years that rhyming is a lot harder for children to understand than you would expect. I can give you a few theories I have, but remember they are just my thoughts!

First, often times children listen to the first sound of a word and then make assumptions of the word based on context or background knowledge. This is very evident when children begin reading. They will look at the first letter and then just guess a word with that beginning sound.

Also, children are typically better at picking out two words that rhyme than coming up with words on their own. Again… children see/hear words based on the first sound and with rhymes you need to hear the rime of the word not the onset. They also have to have the word sense and vocabulary to pull words out of their memory.

There are lots of ways to play with rhymes and they are all important! When working with rhyme, I usually start with poems, song and stories that have many rhymes. Songs and poems can be memorized and then adapted. This is why children enjoy nursery rhymes and songs such as Down by the Bay by Raffi.

There are many online rhyming games, such as these games on PBS Kids. But you can also make your own rhyming games at home.

Play I spy with rhymes. I spy something that rhymes with head– bed, red. something that rhymes with hair– chair, pear. etc…

Sing head shoulders knees and toes, but put in words that rhyme with the body parts instead

red, boulders, trees and rose

bed, folders, please and grows

skies and years and south and does

bread, holders, sneeze and hose

keys and snows

Make it fun! Play games with rhymes all the time. They will get it… it will click. Have fun

game · phonemic awareness

Hink Pink

Phonemic awareness is the understanding of how sounds work in words. These skills are auditory and use visual clues, but not written words. When children develop and strengthen their phonemic awareness it assist them in moving forward as readers and writers.

The first phrase of phonemic awareness typically is rhyming and syllables. Today we will work on rhyming, which I feel often is more challenging for children than syllables.

Hink Pink is pairs of rhyming words that either answer a riddle or match a silly definition.

Here are some riddles:

  • What do you call a chubby kitty? (a fat cat)
  • What do you call a crying father? (a sad dad)
  • What do you call a table that doesn’t fall down? (a stable table)
  • What do you call a rabbit who tells jokes? (a funny bunny)

Here are some silly definitions:

  • lengthy tune (long song)
  • small annoying insect that is not wet (dry fly)
  • large group of people who make a lot of noise (loud crowd)
  • stinging insect who doesn’t cost money (free bee)
  • closet to keep sweeping tool (broom room)

Invite your child to try and create their own pair of rhyming words and then create their own hink pink to go with the rhyming pair.

Have your child illustrate pictures to match their hink pink.

Share your rhyming results with me. Could your child solve the riddles? Could they create their own? Did you draw pictures to match your hink pink?