Is the wordplay of nursery rhymes lost your child? That is typical in children who have dyslexia. If your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia, or even if you think your child might have dyslexia, then rhyming is something you should add to your home reading lessons.
Fortunately, rhyming is easy to fit into your schedule. Whereas many literacy activities require sitting down at a table or with a book, rhyming is perfectly suited for learning on the go!
As you and your little ones stroll around the block, run errands, or drive to grandma’s, throw in some rhyming fun. Call out things that you see in your surroundings and work together to come up with as many rhymes as you can.
Tree? Bee! Knee! Ski! Flea! Key! Happy! My friend Everleigh!
Remember, rhymes only need to sound alike. The spelling of rhyming words is irrelevant.
My son is a teenager now, but I still remember playing with rhymes at the grocery store when he was little.
Care for some Raisin Bran, Stan? Freeze the cheese, please!
Hey Fred, would ya like some red bread? (No thank you, Stu!)
(A word of caution as you walk down the produce aisle – nothing rhymes with orange!)
So why bother working on rhyming when reading is your real concern? It’s because individuals with dyslexia struggle with phonological awareness, which is recognizing and manipulating the sounds heard in words.
Rhyming is an example of a phonological awareness skill since rhyming is about words sounding the same at the end. For instance, a child with dyslexia may not recognize that the words CAT and HAT sound alike. Furthermore, by simply manipulating the first sound in each word, that is, by swapping the first sound out for a different sound, you can make any number of new words. Cat, hat, chat, flat, format, muskrat, acrobat, and even rat-a-tat-tat! This understanding is a huge benefit when a child is learning to read!
It’s important to note, that rhyming may be tricky for children with dyslexia. So during this rhyming playtime, be sure to model lots of examples of rhyming words.
Point out to your child how you figured out these new rhyming words. In the first example above, you could explain that the word tree ends in the /ē/ sound. So that means that other words ending in the /ē/ sound will also rhyme with tree, such as the words me and cookie. And if a child offered up green pea, iced tea, or even Mr. McGee, I’d absolutely say, “Yes! That rhymes!”
If your child is still struggling to understand rhyming words, it’s helpful to break down the task of rhyming into four levels, with each levels.
At this level, we’re really just looking for a yes or no answer. Do a “think-aloud” for your child to show how you determine if 2 words rhyme.
“Hmm…dog ends with ‘og.’ Cat ends with ‘at.’ Since ‘og’ and ‘at’ are different sounds, then no, dog and cat do not rhyme.
Here the word “cat” is a distractor. The idea is to help your child hear that both dog and log end in ‘og.’
Yeah, I threw in a trick question here. The beginning reader will almost always claim that the words bat and ball rhyme. The words bat and ball do tend to go together, after all!
This is an opportunity to remind your child that rhyming words sound alike at the end, not at the beginning. Help your child recognize that the words bat and cat both end in ‘at’ and therefore rhyme. Whereas bat and ball sound alike only at the beginning.
This is the level you want your child to reach, but it’s also important to be somewhat flexible as your child learns to rhyme. For example, your child may say that “gree” or “blee,” or other made-up words rhyme with tree.
Purists would say that nonsense rhyming words don’t count. However, I say that nonsense rhymes are a great step toward rhyming success! So I do accept rhyming nonsense words from a child because it shows that rhyming skills are developing and learning is taking place. Also, nonsense rhyming words may be a good way for your child to continue playing the rhyming game when vocabulary skills are limited.
It would be fun to challenge each other to see who can make up the silliest rhyming words! Then I would continue to brainstorm more rhyming words with my child, with an emphasis on actual words, while still accepting nonsense rhyming words. As your child becomes more skillful in identifying rhyming words, they may be able to offer more real rhyming words.
Don’t forget about nursery rhymes, poems, songs, raps, and other fun ways to play with rhyming words! Also, you may wish to check out https://www.rhymezone.com as a rhyming word resource.
I’d love to hear about your rhyming activities with your child. Please email me and share your experiences!
If you have other topics you’d like to see posts on, please email me at Robin@ReadingRemedies.net. I take requests!
Have fun rhyming with your child!