Rhyming and Alliteration: 7 Creative Ideas for the Classroom
By Lexia Curriculum Specialist and Speech-Language Pathologist Elizabeth Olsson, M.S., CCC-SLP
Back on the bus! Say goodbye to summertime and help your students learn to rhyme.
There’s no question that the school day can be hectic, with lots to accomplish in only a short amount of time. As you start to compile your lesson plans for the year, here are some suggestions of quick and fun ways to incorporate multiple opportunities for practice with rhyming and alliteration into the busy school day.
Understanding of rhyme and alliteration helps to develop students’ early phonological awareness skills. Phonological awareness is the ability to analyze and manipulate the sound structure of language, and students develop this awareness by engaging in activities that require them to identify, segment, blend, and manipulate syllables and sounds in words. Young children first develop an awareness of the phonological patterns that occur at the end of rhyming words before moving on to awareness of bigger chunks within words, such as identifying independent words and syllables within compound words. Most importantly for reading success, students must also develop phonemic awareness, or the ability to recognize and isolate individual sounds in words. The awareness of individual sounds (phonemes) is critical for mapping sounds onto print in an alphabetic writing system such as English, and directly impacts both reading and spelling. This is why working on rhyming and alliteration is such an important part of helping students lay the foundation for reading success.
That said, activities targeting these skills don’t need to become another to-do on your already long list. Thinking of ways to incorporate rhyming and alliteration practice into what you’re already doing in the classroom is easy with these simple and engaging activities:
Maybe you need to focus students’ attention while lining up for lunch, or you’d like a fun but quiet activity to try when walking through the halls. Have students give a thumbs up if word pairs rhyme (e.g. "pan," "man") or if they are alliterative (e.g. "pan," "pet"). Contrast with examples that do not match (e.g. "dish," "man"), making sure to emphasize the ending or beginning sounds as much as possible. Have students repeat the words to reinforce the concept.
Poems, songs, and nursery rhymes
Use poems, songs, or nursery rhymes with which students are familiar to practice rhyming words. Give them a target word and have them put their hands in the air when they hear words that rhyme with the target. For example, have students listen for words that rhyme with car as you slowly recite this song: Twinkle, twinkle, little star. How I wonder what you are.
Looking to give your students a movement break? List a series of rhyming words, and when students hear a word that does not rhyme (e.g. "rat," "hat," "bat," "cat," "jam"), have them complete an action, such as jump up, wiggle, or tap their feet. Alternatively, have students tiptoe around the room and freeze when they hear the word that does not rhyme. These activities could also be done with alliterative word lists (e.g. "pen," "pot," "pet," "pin," "cat").
Is it raining outside and there’s indoor recess? Or maybe you have some downtime as you wait for the school assembly to start. No problem! Point to different objects in the classroom with single-syllable names. For each word, have students think of as many rhyming words as they can.
Practice alliteration with silly same-sound phrases throughout the day. For example, refer to students with alliterative phrases, such as Happy Henry and Creative Caroline, when giving directions. Or, talk about daily routines using alliterative phrases, such as Magical Math or the Super Science Center.
Curriculum-related rhyming words
Try incorporating opportunities for rhyming into a lesson you’re already teaching by having students raise their hands to suggest words that rhyme with keywords you’ve selected from the lesson. Learning about frogs in your science unit? Prompt students to think of words that rhyme with frog (e.g. "log," "bog," "jog"). Similarly, if you’re reading a story to the class or giving a lesson, be sure to call students’ attention to any rhyming words. Increasing awareness of rhyming across various contexts throughout the school day will promote generalization.
Word of the Day
Pick a word of the day, and instruct students to generate a list of all words they can think of that rhyme with this word and record their answers in a journal. You can assign this activity for homework, or use it as a warm-up exercise during your writing block. The student with the longest list earns a reward!
With these straightforward and enjoyable activities, your students will be rhyming rock stars adept at alliteration in no time!
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