“Pop, hop the mop,” your child giggles as she chatters away in rhymes. Likely, some of her favorite books are full of rhymes -- and some nights she recites them as you read. You might not realize it, but rhyming words can help her develop literacy skills such as recognizing letter groups and letter sounds. Plus, she has so much fun with the rhymes that it doesn’t even seem like learning.
Many books for young children use rhyming patterns to advance the story. Dr. Seuss’s “Hop on Pop” and “Green Eggs and Ham” are classics in this genre. Read a book with rhymes to your child -- and have him say the rhyming words with you. Read a phrase containing one of the rhyming words and have him guess what the next rhyming word will be. Point to an object on the page and ask, “What is this? Can you tell me what rhymes with it?” For example, if you point to a bee, he might tell you that "tree" rhymes with it.
Songs and poetry often contain rhyming words. Encourage your preschooler to sing nursery rhymes such as “Jack and Jill” or “Old King Cole,” telling her to jump up or tap on the top of an oatmeal box when she sings a rhyming word. Or, you can ask her to create her own rhyming song – the sillier the better. To give her a starting word, you might say, “Can you make up a song using words that rhyme with cat?” You can also help her make up a rhyming song by holding up the picture of an object, giving her the first line of the song, and asking her to think of a word to end the next line. For example, you might hold up a picture of a kite and say, “I have a pretty kite. I fly it in the...” -- and she might finish the line with “light” or “night.”
Your preschooler might not recognize written words, but he can probably recognize the words in pictorial form. Write a rhyming word on an index card and glue a picture of the object on the card above the word. Make more cards like this -- and be sure that some of the pictures rhyme. Have your little guy match the rhyming pictures. Create rhyming rings by linking groups of rhyming word cards on a key chain and have him flip through the cards, saying each word as it appears. Alternatively, give your preschooler an index card that has picture with the word printed beneath it -- and have him hunt through the room to find an object that rhymes with the picture on the card.
Challenge your preschooler to create rhyming art. For example, you can draw a picture of a tree and say, “Here's a picture of a tree. What can you add to the picture that rhymes with tree?” She can draw the rhyming items or glue pictures of them to the page. Allow her to create a collage of rhyming words or make rhyming dice by gluing one rhyming word to each side of a pair of oversized dice. Alternatively, she can hang pictures of rhyming items together to make a mobile.