When I speak with parents about our program, I often discuss Phonological Awareness. This is important in our program as it is such an important part of learning to read:

“The best predictor of reading difficulty in kindergarten or first grade is the inability to segment words and syllables into constituent sound units (phonemic awareness)  Lyon, (1995) Toward a definition of dyslexia. Annals of Dyslexia, 40, 51-76

This series of  blogs will explain these very important and sometimes not understood early reading skills.


The VERY first skills required to read are actually being developed well before letters are taught.

Phonological Awareness is broadly defined as being able to hear the sounds in language including words, parts of words (sounds and syllables). This skill is being learnt from the minute children are learning language and speech, however also requires explicit instruction for understanding.

Climbing the phonological ladder of success

      Climbing the phonological awareness ladder of success, shows how students progress through the learning stages of phonological awareness.  Explicit teaching in these skills assists the students’ development as a competent literacy learner.
      In this article I discuss some ideas that we implement in the ‘Ready 4 School’ school readiness program and that you can try at home to reinforce hearing rhythm and rhyme.


We start instruction by introducing sounds through RHYME. This is such a great starting point as it is very motivating for the students. Rhyme is easily introduced through literature and nursery rhymes. We make sure this literature is throughout our programs. Specifically in ‘Little ED 4 School’ and ‘Learn 4 School’ we focus strongly on nursery rhymes and their rime sounds to start to assist the students to hear those sounds clearly.

We have provided an example of how to use our Nursery Rhyme resources on our blog Teach Rhyme with Nursery Rhymes


Our nursery rhyme packages are available for purchase:

Hickory Dickory Dock

Humpty Dumpty
Hickory Dickory Dock
Little Miss Muffet
Hey Diddle Diddle
Baa Baa Black Sheep
Incy Wincy Spider
Jack and Jill
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
With instruction and repetition of the nursery rhymes, the rhyme sound should also be taught explicitly for those students who need some assistance with hearing the sound.  One way to teach these sounds is via direct instruction through the use of  the ED Specially 4U Rhyme Flashcard resource

Rhyming word flashcards

This resource can be used for direct instruction teaching the rhyme sounds.

Extension Ideas with this resource:

Show and name a sequence of cards in a rhyme sound and include a different rhyme sound – ask the students to work out the rhyme card that does not belong.  For example: wall, call, ball, fall, moon.  This activity can be repeated, changing the position of the word that does not belong,  in the sequence.



We offer a lot of  hands on learning opportunities to reinforce instruction and concepts of rhyme.  Our Nursery Rhyme Games are:

Rhyme Match

Nursery Rhyme Matchmatching the words to a baseboard (similar to a bingo board) which can be played by one or more players.  This game is great as an instructional tool – with the teacher leading the rhyme activity or as an activity for students to independently work through.

Find The Rhyme

Find The Rhyme – This is a harder activity than the Nursery Rhyme Match, as the player has to match to locate a rhyme sound that matches the picture already supplied

Rhyme Memory Match

Nursery Rhyme Memory Match This game is played in the same style as traditional memory match, with the player matching rhyme words that have the same rhyme


Reading is of course, highly important when you are introducing rhyme to students.  There is a wealth of great literature for children of this early learning age, which uses the prose of rhyme.  Books with full rhyming sentences and words are great for developing the sound of rhyme.

When you are reading a book with rhyming words, talk to your child about the words that rhyme.  Repeat sentences highlighting the rhymes and reinforce the rhyming sound in the words.  Explain that words sound the same because the ending sound is the same.  Give the rhyme words as your example.

You can assess your child’s understanding of rhyme by pausing where the rhyming word should be read and allowing the student to complete the sentence (rhyme word).  If it does not make sense, that is ok.  The important part of this skill is to hear the word:

Using simple literature as an example:    Where’s My Teddy?  Author: Jez Alborough

“Eddy’s off to find his teddy.
Eddy’s teddy’s name is ______”

(Freddy is the real word required here – however if your child said sneddy, reddy, beddy  etc.  they would be showing that they understand the rhyming pattern)

When your child is learning, it is always easier for them to select a correct answer than say it.  So this activity should not be expected until your child has had a good amount of experience with rhyming sounds.



Word families are a great way to introduce rhyme.

Word families are words that have the same ending sound, by just changing the beginning sound.  For example: cat, hat, mat, sat are all rhyming words.

We offer resources and games that assist with the word family rhyming activities.

CVC Rhyme Match

CVC Word Family Rhyme Match – Like the nursery rhyme rhyme match, this game is extremely versatile as an instructional tool or as a game

CVC Memory Match

CVC Word Family Memory Match played like a traditional memory match game.  This game is appropriate to different learning levels as it comes with pictures and words to add to the complexity of the game for older students



Preschool finger plays and songs often use rhyme to entertain, thus providing a fantastic teaching opportunity.

Songs such as :

5 Cheeky Monkeys

5 cheeky monkeys

5 Little Ducks

5 little  ducks 3

5 Little Speckled Frogs


I’m a Little Teapot

Im a teapot

10 Green Bottles

green bottles

This Old Man

P1070626 (2014_02_28 03_56_53 UTC)



Rhyming stories and poems are fun for little learners.  Make sure that all teaching of this skill includes FUN.

We enjoy using real objects to extend learning fun.  One game that we love doing with the students when they have become more experienced with their rhyming sounds is:


Feely bag

Provide a mystery feely bag with several objects which are suitable for rhyming tasks.  The teacher/tutor/parent or the student can take the objects out of the bag one by one.

  • If this game is only played with one player, they can make a guess of a word that rhymes with the object they have taken out of the bag. ie. (dolls house) chair =  …bear/pear/where/hair/stair   etc.  block = sock/lock/frock/dock
  • If there is more than one player, the students can take turns to see who can make a match with the object.  As each player correctly guesses, they can hold onto the object until the end of the game, where the rhymes can be reviewed.  The winner of the game is the student with the most objects



Using a round medium sized ball, pass the ball between your child and yourself (this game can be played with more players including whole class groups – and is actually really effective with larger groups)

Start with a CVC word family word such as cat, throw the ball – on each throw of the ball he players have to say a word that rhymes with that word family.

The teacher/parent/ or a designated student is responsible for ‘CHANGING” the rhyme.  When they feel it is a good time, or the rhyme sound has been exhausted, or just for fun – the designated person shouts CHANGE and then nominates a new word family rhyme.

This game is best played at a fast pace, and gets the students thinking.

Rhyme Time is an enjoyable experience for parents/teachers  and students alike.
Children benefit from the explicit teaching of rhyme sounds.
These can be taught through nursery rhyme, Short Vowel Rhyming words, games and of course books.

For the Love of Learning