While you are reading "The Cat in the Hat" for the 16th time to your preschooler, you may be wondering, "What's so special about this book?" According to Education.com, rhymes are a crucial part of kids learning to read, so it's no wonder preschoolers and emerging readers are drawn to books that have fun and silly rhymes, like those of Dr. Seuss. So get out those books again and again, and find some new ways to help your child practice rhyming. Before you know it, she'll be on her way to reading.
Fill in the Blank
Simply hearing the sound patterns in words that rhyme can help children begin to understand why some words are spelled the way they are. Begin by reading a simple Dr. Seuss book, such as "Hop on Pop" or "The Foot Book." Once your preschooler has heard the story several times, he will be able to fill in the blanks as you read aloud. Read the first part of the sentence that contains the first rhyming word, and emphasize that word as you say it aloud. Pause when you get to the second rhyming word, allowing him to say it. Use your finger to point along as you read each word, so he is able to see the rhyming words in print and notice their similarities.
Make a List
Choose a favorite Dr. Seuss book and read it together with your child. Each time you find a rhyming word pair, say them together, or write them on a piece of paper for your preschooler. Then ask your child to brainstorm other words that would rhyme with the ones you found and add them to your list. Don't be afraid to let her come up with "nonsense" words, as long as they rhyme with the others on your list. While reading "Green Eggs and Ham," you may be thinking of words that rhyme with Sam, and if your preschooler comes up with "zam," add it to your list. This shows she understands the concept of changing the first sound of the word while keeping the rest of the sounds the same.
Rhyming Word Search
Once your preschooler understands that rhyming words are often spelled similarly, you can have him search through a Dr. Seuss book to find a word that rhymes with one you have given him. Give him the book "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" and ask him to find more words in the book that rhyme with the word fish. Point out that fish is spelled with -ish at the end, so he needs to find other words that end in -ish. This will help him pay attention to the letters in each word as you read, or as he looks through a book on his own.
Rhyming Word Matching
You can even practice rhyming when you're not reading one of Dr. Seuss' books. Help your child make a matching game you can play together. As you read some of your favorite Dr. Seuss stories, write some of the rhyming words on individual index cards until you have a collection of about 20 cards. Make sure that each word rhymes with a word on another card in the set. Then place all of your word cards face down on a playing surface. Have your child turn over two cards. You can read them aloud and she will decide if the words rhyme or not. If they are rhyming words, she can keep the pair, but if they do not rhyme, turn them face down. Continue taking turns choosing two cards and determining if the words rhyme or not until all of the cards have been matched.