Rhyming is a great way to build foundational literacy skills. A child’s ability to recognize and produce words that rhyme is one of the predictors for later reading success. As preschoolers hear and say rhymes, they are beginning to hear sounds within words and identify when those sounds are the same. Here is a fun, hands-on rhyming activity all kids can do, even if they are in the beginning stages of learning to rhyme!
Down by the Bay Hands on Rhyming Activity
- Small figurines, stuffed animals, or pictures of goose, moose, whale, tail, fly, tie, bear, hair, llama, pajamas
- 5 permanent markers
- Sing or play the song Down by the Bay
- Whiteboard and dry erase marker (optional)
- Container to hold items
Put a different colored dot on each pair of rhyming items. For example, goose and moose could have a silver dot on the top of them; fly and tie could be green, etc.
Put all objects in a container.
Note: Children should already be familiar with the song “Down by the Bay” before doing this activity. Introduce and sing this song with children for a few days before adding this hands-on activity with the song.
Introduce Concept of Rhyming
Explain words rhyme when the end of the words sound the same. Provide examples (bat, cat). To reinforce it is the end of the word, have 4 to 5 kids stand in a line all facing the same direction. Have the remaining children point to the person who is at the front of the line. Then tell them to point to the child at the end of the line. Reiterate that rhyming focuses on the end of the word. One common mistake kids make is they will listen for words that sound the same at the beginning of the word.
For older pre-kindergartners: Print “cat” and “bat” on white board. Point out how they look and sound the same at the end of the word. Showing the written words will be too advanced for some kids, but others may be ready to have the concept introduced.
Show children the items in the container. Name each item. You don’t want someone thinking a moose is a caribou or a goose is a swan. We want the words to rhyme.
Play the Rhyming Activity
- Put container full of items in front of you.
- Sing the “Down by the Bay” song.
- As you sing, pick up the items in the song that rhyme as they are mentioned. Put them on the floor as a pair.
- Each pair should be visually separated to keep the rhyme together.
- Remind children rhyming items have a same color dot on them. This allows kids who are just beginning to rhyme to still be a part of the activity.
- Hold each pair as you repeat the two words. Stress the end of the words as you say them.
- Mix the items. Sing the song again and invite the kids pair up the items, taking turns.
Give an item to a child. When it is mentioned in the song, that child puts it in the center of the circle.
Once you have done the activity many times, place the items in a center and let the kids sing and rhyme independently.
Expert Tip: Throughout the day when you encounter rhyming words, pause and exclaim something like “Wow! ‘log’ and ‘dog’ rhyme!” Express yourself like you never realized it before. This will make kids want to do it also. Your excitement in contagious! (Plus it’s fun to find rhyming words “out in the wild.”)
Contributed by Carla Goldberg