Did you realize that making time for rhyming activities in your day will actually help your preschoolers to become successful readers later on? Because rhyming is an essential pre-reading skill, spending time on rhyming activities is extremely important!
To help you keep things fun and exciting, we’ve put together some fantastic rhyming activities for preschoolers that we know will be a big hit with your little learners!
For other amazing literacy activities for your preschoolers, check out our alphabet sand tray and story stones (a kid favorite!) For other pre-reading support, check out our post about counting syllables in words.
Why Are Rhyming Activities SO Important in Preschool?
Rhyming is one of the BEST predictors of early literacy success. This invaluable pre-reading skill develops confidence, gives children insight into how our language works, and is super fun! Learning to read can feel like a daunting task, so opportunities to infuse pre-reading FUN provide ways to help little ones build the foundations of reading.
Rhyming also sets the stage for creating better writers. If a child can spell cat, then it will also be easy to spell bat, mat, rat, hat, sat, just by changing that initial letter sound. This is an incredible tool for building up a young writer and makes writing feel more manageable!
One of THE best ways to introduce rhyming is to read high-quality rhyming picture books. These books set the stage for rhyming and allow young listeners to hear an experienced reader pronounce the rhyming words. Better yet, many books encourage young children to try and name the upcoming rhyming word.
Reading rhyming stories aloud helps build imagination, improve memory, and even develop musical rhythm.
For an entire book list of rhyming stories, check out our rhyming stories for kids post!
One of our favorite rhyming books in my house is The Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas. This hilarious story follows Ed, Ned, Ted, and Bob, as they attempt to rhyme together. Poor Bob can’t focus on rhymes just yet…there are more important things to worry about!
We can never have enough books! We’ve created a handy printable of the best preschool books for you to print and have on hand. Grab it by filling out the form below!
Developmental Stages of Rhyming
Children typically go through three stages in their journey to understand, recognize, and produce rhyming words. Oftentimes, during the preschool years, young children begin their journey through rhyme development. The more opportunities that students have to listen and practice with rhyming words, the better!
Stage 1 of Rhyming Development – Exposure to Rhymes
In this first stage, children become familiar with rhymes through plenty of exposure. This could be through songs and fingerplays, classic nursery rhymes, rhyming games and activities, rhyming books, and/or everyday spoken language. These fun and engaging experiences are building the blocks to rhyming success and setting up those little learners to become proficient rhymers (and readers)!
Stage 2 of Rhyming Development – Recognizing Rhymes
In this second stage, children are beginning to notice a difference between words that rhyme and words that don’t rhyme. This will likely be oral recognition and it’s a great time to celebrate this big accomplishment! Read rhyming books together and encourage the child to find the rhymes.
Stage 3 of Rhyming Development – Producing Rhymes
In this third and last stage, children have officially mastered how rhyming works! Children are able to recognize rhyming words AND produce rhyming words too. Once simple rhymes feel successful, begin adding in words with more complex letter combinations as well. Blends and digraphs are a great start.
Rhyming Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten
Rhyming activities do not need to be complicated to set up or prepare for. There are many ways to practice rhyming and they all serve a great purpose in preparing young learners for reading and writing.
Oral Rhyming Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten
Nursery rhymes tend to be undervalued these days! There is much to be learned from these classic rhymes. They are catchy and young children enjoy and tend to remember them easily. Nursery rhymes also help break down words for children, and studies have shown that a child’s “ability to recite familiar nursery rhymes was both, directly and indirectly, related to later literacy and language abilities.”
Using nursery rhymes also helps develop other important skills like counting, creativity, expression, following directions, and building vocabulary and language. Plus it’s so fun to incorporate hands-on activities with these nursery rhymes, like this nursery rhyme sorting activity.
“Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.“Mem Fox, Reading Magic
If you’re like me and constantly have to look up the words to common nursery rhymes and songs, we have the solution! Bring your favorite songs, chants, nursery rhymes, and fingerplays to life during circle time with these song cards and song sticks. They’re printable from your own printer! You can purchase all these awesome materials in our store.
Oral Rhyming Games
- Nonsense Word Fun – Nothing seems more silly and zany than making up words! Little ones LOVE when adults use nonsense words to make rhymes – it’s so fun and silly! Invite your students to play an oral game as students line up or transition to another activity. Say, “Let’s see how many words I can rhyme with ball! If you hear a silly nonsense word, say THAT’S SILLY! Here we go! Small, tall, fall, gall, lall, wall, mall, zall, etc.” Invite students to brainstorm silly nonsense words to practice with too!
- Rhyming I Spy – Invite children to look around the room and find an object that rhymes with wall, or clock, or door, or light!
- Rhyming Quick Draw – Draw one quick illustration on the board or on paper for all students to see. For example, you could draw a frog. Then invite the children to guess what rhyme you will draw next. Log, dog, or fog? This game encourages children to continue brainstorming rhyming words!
Music and song is a great introduction to rhyming! When rhymes are set to a beat, it becomes more apparent ‘how’ the words rhyme and gives little ones exposure to rhythm.
Check out these amazing rhyming songs. They are perfect no matter what stage of rhyming your students are in! Plus, sprinkling in movement and motion is ideal for developing gross motor skills and keeping the wiggles at bay!
Or check out the beloved Jack Hartmann below with a couple of rhyming videos designed with preschoolers and kindergarteners in mind.
Rhyming Games for Preschoolers
Rhyming Picture Cards
These rhyming picture cards are one of the most versatile ways to help preschoolers and kindergarteners learn all about rhyming!
We have 100+ beautiful rhyming picture cards perfect for use in any of the games below! Check out our store for the rhyming set.
- Rhyming Memory – Use the rhyming picture cards turned upside down for this game. Start small with just 3 sets (6 cards) and go from there to help challenge their memory. The students can play in small groups or with the teacher/parent. Have the child flip over two cards. Then, invite the child to say both words aloud and then help them decide if those words rhyme. If the child is struggling to identify the rhyme, enunciate the final sound in the word and help them make that sound with you. Play until all the cards have been matched!
- Rhyme Sort – Invite students to sort the picture card sets by words that rhyme/do not rhyme. Use a pocket chart or a tabletop for ease!
- Rhyming Tag – Arrange the children in a circle and give each child a rhyming picture card. Invite the preschoolers to find the partner who has a rhyming picture. Repeat and play again!
Rhyming Scavenger Hunt
Head out on a scavenger hunt as you search for rhymes. Use real items, rhyming picture cards, or rhyming objects and scatter them inside or out. Invite your preschoolers/kindergarteners to find the items and make rhyming matches!
These rhyming dominoes are such an interactive way to learn rhymes! Use these tiles to make a rhyming track around the room!
We hope you find this rhyming post useful and full of ideas that you can take back to your classroom.