How to Teach Rhyming Words to Kids in Preschool and Kindergarten

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Are you looking for an engaging way to teach rhyming words to kids? I’ve got ya covered! Rhyming is an important part of phonological awareness, an important stepping stone to learning to read. We’ve rounded up some creative (and even silly!) rhyming activities that will help make teaching rhyming words a breeze.

kids laughing - how to teach rhyming words

Why is It Important to teach rhyming?

Understanding the concept of rhyme is an important component of phonological awareness. When kids develop phonological awareness, they have the ability to break down and manipulate the parts of spoken language.  That ability to notice and manipulate the different parts of language and words is a fundamental component of learning to read.  

I’m always looking for ways to help children learn and grow. One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to do that is by introducing kids to rhyme.

So, let me show you how to teach rhyming words to kids.

rhyming awareness exercises and activities
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Exercises to Develop rhyming awareness skills

Just like teaching syllable awareness, it doesn’t take a lot of time to help your kids develop phonological awareness skills. In fact, you can fit phonological awareness activities into your daily routine by spending just a few minutes per day playing with words. Let me show you a series of fun and easy rhyme awareness exercises that you can do.

The cards pictured below are part of my Rhyming Awareness Exercises set. The set includes rhyming picture cards plus a sequence for six different exercises (22 weeks) to help you build rhyming awareness skills. If you don’t have the cards, you can do these activities on your own.

How do you explain rhyming words to young kids?

Before we get to the exercises, I know explaining the concept of rhyme to young kids can seem daunting. It can be tough to find the right words, but I have some great tips for you.

First of all, it’s important to start by defining what rhyming words are. The simplest way to explain it to kids is that word that rhyme sound the same at the end.

Repeat Rhyming Words Exercise

Now that you know how to explain this simple definition to your kids, you can start working on some rhyming awareness exercises. In the first exercise, ask your kids to repeat a group of rhyming words. As you say each word, isolate the onset and rime of each word, and then blend them together to say the complete word. For example:

  • h-at, hat
  • c-at, cat
  • m-at, mat
  • b-at, bat
how to teach rhyming words with rhyming awareness exercises.  Repeat a set of 4 rhyming words on cards.  The cards say hat, cat, mat, bat.

After you say each word, ask your kids to repeat it. If you have the printable rhyming picture cards, you can use the cards for multi-sensory support.

Remind them to listen to and notice that the ending sound (rime) is the same in each of the words.

Repeat this activity with different groups of words that rhyme. The Rhyming Awareness Exercises Set provides you with word sets and picture cards you can use with your kids.

Rhyme Matching Exercise

The next exercise will help them discriminate between words that rhyme and words that do not rhyme.

Begin by saying a word and segmenting the word to emphasize its onset and rime. For example cat, c-at. Ask your kids to repeat the word, and segment it just as you did.

Explain that the word cat can be broken down into a beginning sound (/k/) and an ending sound (-at). When you blend the beginning sound and the ending together, they make the word cat.

Ask them to close their eyes so that they can concentrate and really listen to the word.

Now, tell your kids that you will say two more words. They will need to listen closely and will repeat them. Ask them to listen to see if either word sounds the same as “van” at the end.

Present your kids with one word that rhymes with van and one that does not. For example:

  • top, t-op
  • can, c-an
how to teach rhyming words with phonological awareness activities and rhyming cards.  Kids see 3 cards van, top, and can so that they can see that van rhymes with can

You may have to repeat the words in pairs with the first word so they can hear the difference between words that rhyme and those that do not.

“Which word rhymes with van?”

Rhyming Pairs Exercise

In the next phonological awareness activity, you will present two sets of words to your kids. One set will rhyme, while the other does not.

For example:

  • 1st Pair – bat, ram
  • 2nd Pair – mop, hop

Which set rhymes? You can help your kids check their answers by segmenting each of the words to see if they have the same rime.

how to teach rhyming words to kids in preschool with this rhyming pairs exercise.  2 pairs of rhyming picture cards are shown to kids (bat, sheep and mop, hop).  Kids will choose the pair that rhymes.

m-op, and h-op have the same rime (or ending), so that means that they rhyme.

Eliminate the Word That Does Not Rhyme Exercise

Present your kids with a group of 4 word cards in which three rhyme and one does not. Say the word on each card, and ask your kids to repeat them. Then, say each word a second time and ask your kids to touch their nose when they hear the word that does not rhyme. For example, you can use this set of words:

  • dip
  • rip
  • hat
  • zip
Kid eliminate the word that does not rhyme in this rhyming exercise.  The cards illustrate the words dip, rip, zip, and hat.

When kids indicate that hat does not rhyme with the other words, you can blend and segment each of the words to check their answer.

Manipulate Rhyming Words Exercise

Present a word to your kids. For this example, let’s use the word “dip”. Next, tell them that you are thinking of a word that rhymes with dip, but it starts with a different letter. For example, “I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with dip and it starts with the /l/ sound. What is the new word?” In this case, the new word is lip.

manipulate the onset in CVC words to create a new rhyming word.  The rhyming picture cards show the words dip and lip.

Produce Rhyming Words Exercise

Once your kids understand how to recognize rhyming words, segment & blend rhyming words, discriminate words that do not rhyme, and manipulate onsets in rhyming words, they should be able to start producing rhyming words.

In this exercise, begin by giving kids a word and asking them to think of words that rhyme with it. You can encourage them to produce actual words or they can get sill and create nonsense words.

A set of rhyming word picture cards spread on the table.  The cards are used in a rhyming and phonological awareness activity.  The directions for the activity are outlined in his article about how to teach rhyming words to kids in preschool

For example, if you start them with the word “hen” they might tell you some of these rhyming words:

  • Ben
  • ten
  • pen
  • wren
  • sen
  • wen
  • len
  • etc.

Additional opportunities to Identify Rhymes

As you introduce the concept of rhyme to your kids, you can bring words that rhyme to their attention. Soon, they will be able to recognize rhymes independently, and eventually, you will be able to challenge them to produce words that rhyme.

Pointing out rhyming words in stories, introducing classic nursery rhymes, and making up silly rhymes will help your kids become proficient at recognizing words that rhyme.

How to Teach Rhyming Words to Kids with Fun Activities

Now that you know how to teach rhyming words to kids, you will want to introduce some fun literacy activities to reinforce and practice the concept. Here are some fun and easy activities and ideas that will help your kids learn to recognize and produce rhymes.

Fun songs With Rhymes

Classics like This Old Man and Hickory Dickory Dock are great songs with rhyme to share with kids. You can also find lots of ideas in my article about the best rhyming songs for kids.

how to teach rhyming words with rhyming songs

Rhyming Games

You can use games to give kids hands-on practice when teaching words that rhyme to preschool and kindergarten children. Rhyming games are a great way to teach kids new words and help them better identify words that rhyme.

You can change up an existing game where kids have to recite the rhyme in order to get a point or advance. Check out my article about rhyming games for kids for lots of ideas.

how to teach rhyming words with rhyming bingo game

Rhyming Books

One of the best ways to teach rhyming words to kids is through books. Check out my list of the Best Rhyming Books for Kids. My favorite is the Rhyming Dust Bunnies.

20 of the best rhyming books for kids

Silly DIY rhyming books are lots of fun too. My favorite are these Lift-the-Flap Name Books featuring silly animals. They feature the names and pictures of kids in your class and teach how to produce rhymes in a fun and silly way.

how to teach rhyming words with rhyming animal lift the flap name books

how to teach rhyming words with rhyming animal name books

Teach Rhyme with Clip Cards

All you need to do is print out the cards, cut them out and grab a set of clothespins. Have your learners look at the picture at the top of each card and then clip the clothespin on the picture at the bottom that rhymes with it. These hands-on rhyming activity clip cards will help your kids develop their phonological awareness skills as they match up word pairs that rhyme. Plus, it’s a great way to practice fine motor skills too!

Rhyming clip cards featuring the rhyming words cat and bat in an article about how to teach rhyming words

Rhyming Puzzles

Rhyming puzzles are a great way to practice phonological awarentess with your students! You can print out the puzzles, cut them, and laminate them for longevity. Then, you can have your students match the words that rhyme together.

how to teach rhyming words with printable rhyming puzzles for kids

Purchase Rhyming Awareness Skills Exercises Printables In the Store Today

Are you ready to get started with the rhyming exercises? This set includes daily activities to help your kids develop rhyming awareness. Purchase the rhyming awareness printables in my store today.

rhyming awareness exercises and activities

Purchase the Printables on TPT

Do you prefer to shop on TPT? You can also get the rhyming awareness program printables in my TPT store.

Printable Additional Rhyming Activities in the Store

Now that you know how to teach rhyming words to kids, I bet you are ready to work on rhyme in your classroom today. Check out these hands-on rhyme activities in the store:

rhyming name class book bundle
cvc rhyming clip card activity
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