When we think of reading, we think of someone holding a book or a newspaper or these days an iPad or even a phone, but the foundations for reading, the crucial skills that are required for readers to be successful don’t actually contain any actual ‘print’ (visual words or letters).

Early/foundation skills for reading actually start with ‘hearing’ or a term you may have heard a before, phonological awareness. This is the ability to hear and identify various sounds in spoken words. Children who have strong phonological awareness can do things like rhyme, identify beginning/initial sounds in words, count syllables and blend the individual sounds in words to make the full word. Strong phonological awareness helps children learn to read much more easily.

The absolute best way to introduce rhyming to your child is by reading lots of fun rhyming books, poems, and songs. Young children love to listen to rhyming stories and learning to rhyme is an important step in the language-learning process. Rhyming picture books are an excellent way to introduce rhyming to children of all ages.

Rhyming Picture Book Suggestions:

  • Goodnight Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinkler & Tom Lichtenheld (ages 3-6)
  • Noni the Pony by Alison Lester (ages 1-4)
  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson (ages 2+)
  • Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort (ages 2+)
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, By Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle (ages 2-5)
  • Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (ages 1+)

Five simple rhyming activities and games to play at home:

1. Rhyming Scavenger Hunt
Hide objects or pictures in the home or outside. Give your child picture checklists and have them go hunting for rhyming words!

2. Rhyming Body Game
Give your child a word that you know rhymes with a body part and they need to figure out what body part your word rhymes with. For example, you say ‘what rhymes with bed?’ And point to your head, hopefully they will say head. If that is too easy, do not point to the body part when you give your rhyming clue. Other examples; pies point to eyes, boulder point to shoulder, etc.

3. Rhyming Name Strings
Come up with silly ‘nonsense’ words that rhyme with names you know. Start with your child’s name and then try Mum and Dad. Note, ‘Mum’ does rhyme with bum, so you can expect quite a few giggles with that one!

4. I Spy
Instead of ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with ___.’ Change the wording to ‘I spy with my little eye, something that rhymes with mat,’ and the answer might be hat. Take turns once your child has got the hang of rhyming and can come up with rhyming words themselves.

5. Nursery Rhymes
These are just loaded with rhyming words! There is a very good reason they have been round for centuries. Nursery rhymes have so much value for our young ‘readers’. We just can’t get enough of them and they are so good for teaching your little ones to rhyme!

Kirsty Gibbs

Kirsty Gibbs  

Kirsty began her career as a teacher in 2006. Since then she has worked in all areas of education from the early years to high school. She lives on the Gold Coast with her husband and two young daughters. Kirsty is the founder of Learning Blocks, the learning hub for parents and children. She specialises in early childhood education and runs classes and workshops for both parents and children aged 3-13. Kirsty has most recently developed educational resources and guides for parents to use at home with their children // www.learningblockscentre.com.au