In this activity, you will help your child identify rhyming words in familiar nursery rhymes and produce additional words that rhyme.
Begin by teaching your child a nursery rhyme, such as “Jack and Jill,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” “Humpty Dumpty,” or “Little Bo Peep”. Read or recite the nursery rhyme for your child using a rhythmic voice that emphasizes the rhyming words.
Here is an example using the “Jack and Jill” nursery rhyme:
Jack and Jill
Went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down
And broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after!
Then say, “Let’s act out this nursery rhyme by pretending to be Jack and Jill. Do you want to be Jack or Jill? Let’s pretend we are climbing up a hill to get a pail of water. Then we’ll fall down the hill. Let’s play!” Show your child what to do and encourage her to act it out with you. This will help your child gain a better understanding of the meaning of key words in the nursery rhyme; for example, you can pretend that it’s hard work to climb up a steep hill which makes you out of breath, that the pail of water is very heavy to carry, that it hurts when you hit your head or crown, and what tumbling looks like.
After you have acted it out, repeat the nursery rhyme, pointing out the rhyming words. You can emphasize the rhyming words by saying them differently or using a different voice than the other words in the rhyme. As you recite the rhyme, pause to encourage your child to “fill in” the rhyming words.
After your child is able to fill in the rhyming word pairs, invite her to come up with other words that rhyme with the word pairs (Jill-hill, down-crown). Remember to point out that words that rhyme don’t have to be real words; they can be nonsense words. You can say something like, “I heard some rhyming words in “Jack and Jill.” Jill and hill are rhyming words. They have the same ending sound. Say those words with me…Jill…hill. I can think of another word that rhymes with Jill and hill. It is Bill. Will you tell me another word that rhymes with Jill, hill, and Bill? (Hint: I just said the word in my last sentence.) Yes… will rhymes with Jill, Bill and hill. Let’s try another one. In our nursery rhyme, the words down and crown rhyme. Jack fell down and broke his crown. They have the same ending sound. Tell me another word that rhymes with down and crown.” If child struggles, provide two choices, one correct (town, gown, or nonsense word zown) and one incorrect (pail or broke). You can act out your silly new rhyme together, for example:
Jack and Jill
went up the hill
along with Bill
who forgot his pill.
They have a bucket to fill,
I know they will!
But Jack fell down
and broke his crown.
He yelled “oooh”, “ouch”, and “zown!”
Then they went into town
where Jill bought a gown,
and they lived happily ever after!